Bush condemns Trump's treatment of 'indispensable' media

Former US President George W. Bush has taken a thinly veiled swipe at Donald Trump, saying his approach to the media is similar that of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Appearing on NBC's Today show, Mr Bush spoke on a range of topics relating to President Trump, including his assessment on his first month in charge, his contentious immigration policy, and the election hacking scandal.

Mr Bush remained coy on all those topics - but when asked about Mr Trump's relationship with the media, he spoke passionately about the need for a "free press".

"I consider media to be indispensable to democracy. We need an independent media to hold people like me to account," Mr Bush told host Matt Lauer.

"Power can be very addictive, and it can be corrosive - and it's important for the media to call to account those who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere."

Mr Trump has caused controversy with his administration's continued criticism of US media. Last week, his press secretary Sean Spicer escalated the tension between the administration and a number of news outlets by banning the likes of CNN, The New York Times, Politico, The Los Angeles Times and BuzzFeed from a White House briefing.

Mr Bush made it clear in his interview that controlling the media is something he attempted to stop other foreign leaders from doing while in office.

"One of the things I spent a lot of my time doing was convincing people like Vladimir Putin, for example, to accept the notion of an independent press," he said.

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

Mr Bush refused to comment on whether a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate Russia's involvement in the election, but said the US does need answers on whether they had an influence on the result one way or another.