Bush calls press "indispensable" to democracy

In several notably-pointed takes on Trump and his policies, the former President voiced his support for the fourth estate

Bush calls press "indispensable" to democracy

Image: LM Otero AP/Press Association Images

Former president of the United States George W Bush holds opposing views to President Trump on the media, saying it is "indispensable to democracy".

On a recent media tour promoting his new paintings, featuring the faces of wounded soldiers, Bush was asked by NBC's Today Matt Lauer if he considered the media to be "the enemy of the American people" during his presidency.

Bush chuckled and then answered: "I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We need an independent media to hold people like me to account. Power can be very addictive. And it can be corrosive. And it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere."

The former president noted that he spent a lot of time trying to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to accept the notion of an independent press.

It's the first time Bush has been drawn on his views of Trump, however slight.

Travel ban

Asked point blank if he supports the ban on travel from the seven predominantly Muslim countries that were included in Trump's executive order, which is now being challenged in the courts, Bush said he is "for an immigration policy that is welcoming and that upholds the law."

Bush responded that the right to worship freely, or to not worship at all, is a bedrock of freedom in the US.

"You see, I understood right off the bat, Matt, that this is an ideological conflict, and people who murder the innocent are not religious people," Bush said. "They want to advance an ideology, and we have faced those kinds of ideologues in the past."

Russian hacking

During an exchange about the controversies involving Russia's alleged attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election, including reports of contacts between top Trump campaign officials and the Russians, Bush said: "First of all, I think we all need answers — whether or not the special prosecutor is the way to go or not, you're talking to the wrong guy."