Billy Bush Exits ‘Today’ After Leaked Donald Trump Recording
Billy Bush is officially no longer a TODAY show host as of Monday (October 18), following an October 7 Washington Post story that featured video of Bush exchanging flagrantly sexist comments with GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump in 2005.
"Billy Bush will be leaving the Today show’s 9 a.m. hour, effective today," Noah Oppenheim, a senior VP at NBC News, wrote in a memo to staffers on Monday. "While he was a new member of the TODAY team, he was a valued colleague and longtime member of the broader NBC family. We wish him success as he goes forward."
TODAY's Savannah Guthrie first announced Bush's temporary suspension on the air on October 10, "pending further review of the matter." Bush had only arrived as a new addition to the show's 9 A.M. broadcast in August (full disclosure: Bush briefly hosted a syndicated PopCrush radio show in 2013). In the recording in question, Bush can be heard calling Days of Our Lives actress Arianne Zucker "hot as s---" on a bus with Trump, before exiting the bus and asking Zucker to give Trump, and himself, "a little hug" on camera.
Bush released a statement of apology for his poor behavior, and deleted his Twitter account, after the tape's release. "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." Bush was 34 at the time of the recording.
Variety reports that Billy Bush is now a "free agent," per his attorney Marshall Grossman, who declined to comment on the amount of money NBC gave Bush in his exit package (though he did dispute a previously reported figure of $10 million).
And Bush is not off the hook for his participation in the scandal, as Donald Trump's wife Melania Trump attempted to shift more blame onto the former Access Hollywood personality in an October 17 interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper.
"I wonder if they even knew the mic was on, because they were kind of, ah, boy talk," Melania told Anderson Cooper, possibly intimating the fact that it was recorded was the actual problem, rather than Trump's comments that he kisses women without their permission and feels allowed to "grab them by the p---y."
"He was led on. Like egg on [sic] from the host to say, uh, dirty and bad stuff," Melania continued. As of now, it seems unlikely that Bush will be asked to join the Trump TV network Donald is reportedly trying to get off the ground.
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