Billy Bush going bye bye? Host reported to be negotiating NBC Today Show exit
Embattled Today show host Billy Bush, who engaged in, er, “locker room banter” with Donald Trump during his time at Access Hollywood, is reportedly negotiating his exit from the show, after being suspended.
The lascivious conversation, about sexually assaulting women, was caught on a hot mic in 2005, 11 years ago. The tape has further battered Donald Trump and his floundering presidential bid, and was a big topic of conversation in the most recent debate (or, “yellings”) in St. Louis.
“There is simply no excuse for Billy's language and behavior on that tape,” Today show producer Noah Oppenheim said in a statement announcing the suspension. Al Roker (who rightly called out Bush for his sympathetic opinion of disgraced US swimmer Ryan Lochte at the Olympic Games in Rio) and Carson Daly have pinch hit for Bush, cousin to former US president George W Bush and former GOP nominee Jeb Bush.
According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR), NBC and Bush are negotiating an exit plan — and this isn’t the first time Bush has veered into smarmy territory.
"He was rude and lewd to a few female clients of mine. Boycotting the 9AM hour of the Today show,” wrote Marcel Pariseau, partner at True Public Relations, on his Facebook page, according to THR.
THR also quoted an unnamed celebrity publicist who said, "People who were already booked on the Today show were saying, ‘Maybe we should look at Good Morning America (GMA on ABC) or make sure it’s not him doing the interview.' There are people who wouldn’t talk to him before the news. At Access, he was always ‘that guy.’ There were people who were anxious about him before he started [on Today]."
Making matters worse, Bush allegedly bragged about the video to NBC staffers at the Rio Olympics, according to a report in Page Six. That indiscretion appears to have triggered the search for the tape by Access Hollywood. The site further notes that NBC could investigate Bush for more signs of workplace sexual harassment, due to comments made during a disgusting video chat with Trump about his former co-host Nancy O’Dell, who is currently host of Entertainment Tonight.
The third hour of Today, which Bush was co-host, is a heavily female audience — and a number of the staff are women, further putting pressure on the network to make a bold move to send the right signal to staffers and the audience. For its part, Today addressed the issue, with host Savannah Guthrie saying that, "Pending further review of the matter, NBC News has suspended Billy Bush, who now hosts Today's third hour, for his role in the conversation with Donald Trump.”