Multiple news outlets, including The New York Times, ran stories suggesting that Bush's comments were a criticism of Trump. The NYT said:
Former President George W. Bush implicitly criticized President Trump on Monday, taking issue with his approach to immigration and the news media, and suggested that any ties between the new president’s team and Russia should be investigated.
But on Wednesday, Bush pushed back.
During a question-and-answer session at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, a stop on his book tour, Bush said that his comments on “Today” have been misconstrued:
“I’m asked the question, ‘Do I believe in free press?’ and the answer is absolutely, I believe in free press … because the press holds people to account.
Power is very addictive and it's corrosive if it becomes central to your life and therefore there needs to be an independent group of people who hold you to account.
And so I answered that question and of course the headlines were, ‘Bush criticizes Trump.’ And so therefore I needed to say, ‘There should be a free and independent press, but it ought to be accurate.’”