Former Vice President Joe Biden described attacks on the press and the judicial branch as corrosive and dangerous, without mentioning President Donald Trump who has made incendiary comments about both institutions, ABC News reported.
"What worries me the most," Biden said late on Wednesday, is the "almost drumbeat of denigration of the institutional structures that govern us."
"When you delegitimize the courts, you delegitimize the legislative body. It's corrosive. and it makes it impossible to reach compromise," he said in Washington, where he was receiving the Patriot Award for political courage and leadership from the Bipartistan Policy Center, ABC reported.
Biden did not mention Trump, who has called U.S. Judge James Robart a "so-called judge" whose "ridiculous" opinion "takes law enforcement away from our country." Trump's remarks came after the judge ordered a temporary lifting of the president's travel and immigration ban in February.
Biden, who served two terms as vice president under Democratic President Barack Obama, received the award at the Newseum, a museum dedicated to journalism and First Amendment freedoms.
Trump has called the media an "enemy of the American people" and often refers to negative coverage of his administration as "fake news."
"To question the actual legitimacy of a free press is one of the most dangerous things out there. The degree that we depart and denigrate our institutions and the fourth estate, I think we really, honest to God, honest to God, weaken our ability for self-government," Biden said. "We undermine it and become weaker and not stronger."
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Bernadette Baum)