“Today” show host Billy Bush has been suspended indefinitely by NBC over his lewd comments on women in a 2005 hot-mic discussion videotaped with Donald Trump, the television network said Sunday. Bush, then “Access Hollywood” host, made the remarks along with Trump who was on a Hollywood set to appear on a soap opera.
“I know we've all been deeply troubled by the revelations of the past 48 hours. Let me be clear — there is simply no excuse for Billy’s language and behavior on that tape,” NBC executive Noah Oppenheim said in a memo to staff members. “NBC has decided to suspend Billy, pending further review of this matter.”
The video was released by the Washington Post on Friday. On the tape, 44-year-old Bush is heard laughing and joking along with Trump who boasts about his failed attempt to seduce a married woman. The “Today” host then made crude comments about actress Arianne Zucker who was waiting to take the two men on the set. Trump chimed in, talking about how he would kiss and grope women without their consent and said, “When you’re a star, they let you do it.”
After the video was made public, Bush apologized Friday saying he was “younger, less mature” at the time when the incident was videotaped.
“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 said in a statement.
Republican presidential nominee Trump, on the other hand, called the conversation “locker-room banter” and apologized.
“This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close,” Trump reportedly said. “I apologize if anyone was offended.”
Zucker also took to Twitter to comment on Trump and Bush.
“How we treat one another, whether behind closed doors, locker rooms or face to face, should be done with kindness, dignity and respect. Unfortunately, there are too many people in power who abuse their position and disregard these simple principles and are rewarded for it. In understanding the magnitude of this situation, I choose to stand tall with self respect and use my voice to enrich, inspire and elevate the best of who we are as people,” the 42-year-old said.
Since he began his presidential race, Trump has made several degrading comments on women drawing condemnation from political figures and celebrities. However, after the latest development, several high-profile Republicans, including senators John McCain and Kelly Ayotte, withdrew their support for the 70-year-old.