Donald Trump’s attacks on broadcaster CNN are an “an outrageous assault” on freedom of speech, according to former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Michael Hayden.
“If this is who we are or who we are becoming, I have wasted 40 years of my life,” the former spy chief, who now works as a national security analyst for the broadcaster, said in a Twitter post.
General Hayden, who is also a former director of the National Security Agency (NSA), added: “Until now it was not possible for me to conceive of an American President capable of such an outrageous assault on truth, a free press or the first amendment.”
Mr Trump has repeatedly criticised CNN and has accused it of spreading “fake news”, a claim the network has denied.
On the other hand, the US leader regularly praised Fox News and has appeared on the channel a number of times.
“FoxNews is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the US, CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly,” the US President said in a twitter post over the weekend.
“The outside world does not see the truth from them.”
In response, the broadcaster said it was not responsible for representing the US internationally.
“That’s yours”, it replied to the president. “Our job is to report the news.”
It is not the first time General Hayden has criticised the President for attacking free speech.
Earlier this year, he condemned Mr Trump’s comments about NFL players, who protested racism by kneeling during the national anthem.
Mr Trump had told a crowd at a rally: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag to say, `Get that son of a bitch off the field right now!”
Responding shortly after the President’s remarks, General Hayden said: “As a 39-year military veteran, I think I know something about the flag, the anthem, patriotism, and I think I know why we fight.
“It’s not to allow the president to divide us by wrapping himself in the national banner.”
Minutes after Mr Trump attacked CNN, former FBI director James Comey took to Twitter to defend the press, posting a quotation from a letter by former US President Thomas Jefferson.
Alongside a picture of the Capitol building, the home of the US Congress, he shared the words: “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”