“I love the media!” exclaimed GOP Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, when BuzzFeed News finally managed to extract him from the gaggle of reporters that follows him almost everywhere he goes.

“I mean, y’all are real people, and I’m a real person and you’ve got a job to do and my thing is, provide you access, provide clarity, be direct, be honest, and trust in the integrity of the reporters that are covering you,” Meadows, who speaks often of his close relationship with Trump, went on. “And I’ve not been disappointed by 98% of the reporters that I get to work with.”

In a series of interviews on the topic over the last two weeks, Republicans were careful to note that their support for the press goes beyond mere collegiality to a recognition of the news media’s constitutional role.