Embroiled in a scandal over sexual assault, it’s quite possible NBC “Today Show” host Billy Bush may never hit the radio or television airwaves again as the network reportedly works on severing their relationship with him.
Video and audio taken in 2005 and released last week showed Bush’s lewd conversation with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump about his then “Access Hollywood” co-host Nancy O’Dell, actress Arianna Zucker and other women, during which Trump is heard saying because he’s a celebrity he can “grab [women] by the p‑‑‑y” with many believing Bush egged Trump on.
Both Bush and Trump have apologized for the remarks. Bush told the Hollywood Reporter: “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.”
Trump apologized on television Saturday before Sunday’s presidential debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton while later tweeting he would never drop out of the election. During the debate, he called the remarks “locker-room talk.”
But while Trump continues to battle Clinton for the White House and with many members of the GOP pulling their support from his campaign, Bush is presently negotiating his exit from NBC, which could come in the next few days, sources told The New York Times Tuesday. He was at first suspended by NBC when the tape surfaced.
Reports have already surfaced that Bush is quite worried is career could be over.
“Billy was devastated and crying when the leaked tape of him with Donald Trump in 2005 was first leaked to The Washington Post,” a source told US Magazine. “He was crying that his career was over.”
Once his exit is complete, Bush will likely be free to sign with any other network but it seems highly unlikely any would hire him in the short or long-term future, especially given that many women might not want to work with Bush at all.
When the video and audio first came to light on Friday, female “Today” staffers “revolted” and they were polled about Bush’s behavior while with the network, according to Page Six. The same report states that while reporting on the Rio Olympics in Brazil in August, Bush was supposedly bragging about a “tape of Trump being a real dog,” and that he never disclosed the information to NBC News.
Other reporters and television anchors, though not on the national stage like Bush, have seen their careers come a screeching halt over comments on social media this year. A contract Fox Sports reporter made remarks about Mexicans, Chinese and Jewish people during an appearance on Barstool Sports “Rundown” show in June and was promptly fired.
And in March, a Pittsburgh news anchor was fired after using derogatory stereotypes about blacks on Facebook when talking about a shooting at a backyard party. The anchor, Wendy Bell, filed a lawsuit against the local television station in June.
Bush could, however, look to the recent, although incomplete, redemption of NBC anchor Brian Williams. He was accused and later admitted to embellishing stories, including an outright lie about being inside a helicopter that was hit by a missile while reporting in Iraq. Williams was suspended from the network for six months and stripped of his prestigious duties as host of “NBC Nightly News.” Williams made his first appearance back from suspension in Sept. 2015 during an afternoon on MSNBC, and he has filled in for new “NBC Nightly News” host Lester Holt, but has yet to reclaim the seat and is unlikely to do so.
A change of mediums, specifically those that keep him off camera, might be Bush’s fallback. He began his career in radio, making stops in New Hampshire and Washington D.C. before jumping to television in 2001.