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George W. Bush emphasizes the importance of an 'independent media' because 'power can be very addictive'

As President Trump's relationship with the media grows increasingly combative, former President George W. Bush on Monday highlighted just how important media is to democracy. When asked during an interview on NBC's Today whether he ever considered the media the enemy of the American people — a label Trump recently assigned it — Bush was quick to point out the media's merits. "We need an independent media to hold people like me to account," Bush said. "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."

In Trump's first month in office, he has repeatedly attacked the media, tweeting criticisms of the "failing" New York Times, deeming CNN "fake news," and accusing news outlets of making up sources. On Friday, several major media outlets were barred from entering an informal briefing with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and on Saturday, Trump announced he would not attend the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner, becoming the first president to miss the dinner since former President Ronald Reagan was sidelined by an assassination attempt in 1981.

Bush, after recalling the time he tried to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin of the importance of a free press, noted the U.S. needs to take the advice it doles out. "It's kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we're not willing to have one ourselves," Bush said.

Catch the interview below. Becca Stanek