Tags: George W. Bush | Press | Indispensable | Democracy

George W. Bush: Press 'Indispensable to Democracy'

("Today"/NBC)

By    |   Monday, 27 Feb 2017 09:23 AM

Former President George W. Bush faced his share of criticism from the media during his time in office, but he said Monday that unlike President Donald Trump, he considered the media "to be indispensable to democracy" and not an enemy of the American people.

"We need an independent media to hold people like me to account," Bush said during an interview with NBC's "Today" anchor Matt Lauer.

"I mean, 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."

Bush said he spent a great amount of time trying to convince people like Russian President Vladimir Putin to accept the notion of an independent press, but Trump's adversarial relationship is making the message a difficult one for the United States to deliver.

"It's kind of hard to tell others to have an independent, free press and we're not willing to have one ourselves," said Bush.

Bush took office in 2001 after a controversial election that ended up being decided by the Supreme Court, and during a time when the nation was also divided, but on Monday he said it is hard to compare what was going on then with what's happening now.

"One thing is for certain, the job is a tough job," said Bush. "Everybody looks at the presidency when they campaign one way, then, they get in office and find out there's a reality to the job."

Bush said when he got out of college, the nation was "really divided," and it "requires a lot of people coming together to try to make us united."

Meanwhile, Trump has only been in office shortly over a month, and Bush said he thinks Americans need to take Trump at his word when he says he wants to unify the nation.

"We'll see if he's able to do so," said Bush. "It's hard to unify the country with the news media being so split up. When I was president, you mattered a lot more because there were three of you. And now, there's all kinds of information being bombarded out, and people can say things anonymously. And it's just a different world."

Bush also commented about the ongoing Trump/Russia scandal, and said Americans all need answers, but "you're talking to the wrong guy" about whether a special prosecutor is needed to investigate questions about contacts between Trump's associates and Russian agents.

He said, though, that he does have "great faith" in Sen. Richard Burr, R-S.C., who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, as he believes him to be an "independent thinker."

"If he recommended a special prosecutor, it would have credibility with me," said Bush. "But I've never been a lawyer. I'm not sure [about] the right avenue to take. I am sure, though, that that question needs to be answered."

Bush also spoke out about Trump's travel ban from seven Middle Eastern countries, saying that he does believe it's important for people to be able to worship freely.

However, it's "hard to fight the war on terrorism if we're in retreat, and I think we learned that lesson," said Bush.

"If the United States decides to pull out before a free society emerges, it's going to be hard to defeat them," said Bush. "The enemy is very good about exploiting weakness. It's going to be important. If that's the goal, to defeat ISIS, which I believe it should be, that we project strength."

But Bush wouldn't say specifically if he's for or against the travel ban.

"I'm for an immigration policy that's welcoming and upholds the law," said the former president.

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Former President George W. Bush faced his share of criticism from the media during his time in office, but he said Monday that unlike President Donald Trump, he considered the media "to be indispensable to democracy" and not an enemy of the American people.
George W. Bush, Press, Indispensable, Democracy
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2017-23-27
Monday, 27 Feb 2017 09:23 AM
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