Billy Bush has been suspended from his co-hosting position at the Today Show in the fallout of the leaked 2005 audio of him and Donald Trump demeaning women and Trump boasting about his sexual assault technique. As NBC executives contemplate what his future on the show may or may not entail, Page Six reports that Bush remembered the awful tape so well that he "bragged to NBC staff... while covering the Olympics in Rio."
The tape is a 2005 video that captures Bush accompanying Trump for a segment on Access Hollywood (the entertainment news program Bush worked on before Today). Trump was promoting his reality show, The Apprentice, and taping a cameo on the soap opera Days of Our Lives (Access Hollywood, The Apprentice, Today and Days of Our Lives are owned by NBC), and both men were wired with microphones. After filming an interview, Trump and Bush started to chat with the microphones still recording, because that's what microphones do during interviews, even when the cameras aren't focused on them.
During that exchange, Trump brags about trying to "fuck" Bush's colleague Nancy O'Dell ("I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married... Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look") to which Bush gushes, "That's huge news!" When Bush notices the Days actress, Arianne Zucker, waiting for Trump outside the bus, he exclaims that she's "hot as s--t. In the purple. Whoa, the Donald is good! Whoa, my man!... The Donald scores!"
Trump is pleased, and declares, "I’ve gotta use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything." Bush, says, "Whatever you want," to which Trump agrees, "Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything." Bush laughs heartily.
"All I can see is the legs," Bush admires, and Trump agrees, "Oh, it looks good."
Then, when they finally greet Zucker, Bush tells her, "How about a little hug for the Donald? He just got off the bus" and then says, "How about a little hug for the Bushy?"
According to Page Six, Bush "boasted at a party in August that he had a 'tape of Trump being a real dog,' prompting staffers at 'Access Hollywood' to track it down."
Bush never told NBC News brass about the tape when he joined “Today,” and they’re not happy about it. “Billy was bragging about the tape to other NBC staff while in Rio. If he knew about the tape, and remembered the full extent of such an explosive conversation with a presidential candidate and didn’t disclose that to NBC News, that is a very, very serious problem,” the insider said, adding it could violate the “morality clause” in his contract.
Another insider added, “It is not clear if Billy remembered the exact level of vulgarity in the conversation with Trump, or if he instead realized its news value and didn’t declare it to protect himself.”
Meanwhile, Bush could also be investigated by NBC for any signs of possible workplace sexual harassment because of the comments made during his vile video chat with Trump about his ex-“Access” co-host Nancy O’Dell.
Bush apologized after the tape's release on Friday afternoon: "Obviously I'm embarrassed and ashamed. It's no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago — I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I'm very sorry."
Women at the Today show are apparently extremely upset by Bush's behavior; a source told the Hollywood Reporter, "How are any of the women going to be expected to work with him?" There have been questions about whether actresses would even want to be interviewed by him. And Page Six adds, "An NBC insider said that female staff at 'Today' revolted following the leak of the tape. A review of Bush’s actions is under way, and staff are being urged to come forward 'with any concerns about Bush, his inappropriate behavior or frat-boy mentality.' Staff, particularly women, were polled about how they feel about Bush at a meeting at 30 Rock on Monday."
His former co-anchor at Access Hollywood Shaun Robinson spoke with the Washington Post:
She described the atmosphere of the show and workplaces like it as having “boys’ club” cultures where women “look the other way because they’re just so happy to be at the party.” So when Bush made the comments he did in the presence of an “Access Hollywood” producer, he wasn’t reprimanded. He was seen as doing his job.
“There were people on that bus who were in management positions, and if they considered that language to be offensive, they would have said ‘don’t say that,'” Robinson said. “And I don’t think that was said.”
She also said, "He shouldn’t lose his job for being the type of person that got him the job."
Bush was reportedly "crying" at the tape's leak, saying it would ruin his career. A source is telling People that someone at a "high-level" in NBC leaked it and had an agenda against Bush, "They could have released the tape and edited him out. That was the plan — they were trying to approve it and then someone leaked it. That’s what Access Hollywood eventually did and they played it … but it was already out... If they wanted to protect him, they could have edited it out which they did on the final Access piece that aired on Friday, but they left it in when it was leaked."
That sounds like a lot of excuse-making for a guy who, as the NY Times' Susan Dominus put it, acted as a "two-bit pimp" for Trump. Bush's audio is critical to showing how Trump felt privileged enough to share his unforgivable attitudes towards women.