The Today Show’s Billy Bush was handed the pink slip after an Access Hollywood video showing him laughing at the sexist remarks made by Donald Trump during an interview in 2005 was leaked.
Showrunner Noah Oppenheim confirmed the firing in a memo issued to the staff. The statement read:
“Billy Bush will be leaving the TODAY show’s 9am hour, effective today. 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.”
NBC initially stood by Bush after the tape was first leaked, as reports had filtered in that the studio would not punish the anchor after he was heard cracking up at Trump’s lewd comments about women. At the time of the firing, Bush had just been promoted to third-hour co-anchor. He reportedly signed a contract for $3 million annually.
Meanwhile, Bush released his own statement after being fired.
“I am deeply grateful for the conversations I’ve had with my daughters, and for all of the support from family, friends, and colleagues. I look forward to what lies ahead,” the statement he released to Entertainment Tonight said.
Bush immediately posted an apology after the controversial hot-mic tape was leaked on Oct. 7.
— PopCrush (@PopCrush) October 8, 2016
“Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed,” he said then. “It’s no excuse, but this happened 11 years ago — I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”
At that time, he was the co-host of Access Hollywood and was already into his early 30s. NBC reportedly tried to report Trump’s lewd comments towards women while protecting the role of Bush egging on the presidential candidate, but the tape was released by the Washington Post instead.
One of the remarks made by Trump in the video includes this gem:
“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. Grab ’em by the p—y. You can do anything.”
But Bush was in no way an innocent bystander as he can be heard telling Trump while looking at Days of our Lives star Arianne Zucker, “Sheesh, your girl’s hot as shit. In the purple.”
“Yeah, those legs, all I can see is the legs.”
At one point, when Zucker joined them, Bush even asked her to choose who between him and Trump she would take out on a date. The soap actress refused to be baited by replying that she would plead the Fifth Amendment on the question.
Billy Bush fired from NBC after Trump tape about groping women leaked https://t.co/IswK3FJiXd— Guardian news (@guardiannews) October 18, 2016
Meanwhile, Melania Trump is standing by her husband as she accused Bush of setting up the trap by engaging Trump in “boy talk.” She said this is part of the overall agenda by the opposition to put the billionaire in a bad light.
But she confessed to being shocked by the gutter talk between her husband and the TV host.
“No. No, that’s why I was surprised, because I said like I don’t know that person that would talk that way, and that he would say that kind of stuff in private,” Mrs. Trump said.
“I heard many different stuff — boys talk,” she told CNN. “The boys, the way they talk when they grow up and they want to sometimes show each other, ‘Oh, this and that’ and talking about the girls. But yes, I was surprised, of course.”
[Featured Image by Craig Barritt/Getty Images]