Billy Bush will not get to apologize on-air for his behavior in a 2005 tape with Donald Trump, in which he laughed with the future Republican presidential nominee as Trump gave a graphic account of a failed attempt to have sex with Nancy O’Dell. NBC has suspended Bush from the Today Show.
There was confusion throughout Sunday about how NBC would react to the release of the tape, which was made during the taping of a 2005 Access Hollywood episode promoting Trump’s cameo on Days of Our Lives. At first, a source told The Hollywood Reporter that there was a “plan” to allow Bush to apologize during the 9 a.m. hour Monday.
However, a memo from NBC News senior VP Noah Oppenheim, obtained by THR, confirmed that Bush has been suspended from Today “pending further review of this matter.”
A source told CNNMoney that it is not clear how long Bush will be gone form Today and predicted that he will never be welcomed back.
On October 10, an insider told Us Weekly that Bush was “devastated and crying” when the tape was released and is worried that his career is over.
The decision shows a major shift by NBC, done in just a matter of hours. On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the peacock network wasn’t planning on reprimanding Bush.
Bush joined Today during the Rio Olympics, where he had a controversial interview with Ryan Lochte, who was still claiming to have been robbed in Rio. That story turned out to be false and Al Rocker argued with Bush on-air, producing a viral moment and highlighting the tension at the show. Following that incident, Bush deleted his Twitter account, although he has continued using an Instagram and Facebook page. After the Olympics, Bush began hosting the 9 a.m. hour of Today, which is focused on human interest and feature stories and has a mostly female audience.
Before working at Today, Bush was working for NBCUniversal’s Access Hollywood, where he was when the 2005 tape was made. At that time, O’Dell, who is now at Entertainment Tonight, was his colleague.
So far, Bush has only issued a single statement on the tape. “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.
Bush was 33 at the time the tape was made. He is a cousin of President George W. Bush and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
When The New York Times tried to call Bush, his voicemail message was an assistant saying, “You’ve reached Billy Bush’s office. He’s busy making America great again.”
In the tape, Trump tells Bush about an attempt he made to have sex with O’Dell while Bush is heard laughing. When they drive up to the Days set and see the actress Trump will work with, Bush tells Trump, “Your girl’s hot as s—, in the purple… Yes! The Donald has scored!… Oh, my man!”
The Access Hollywood tape was also a source of concern for NBC News itself, as the network is trying to defend itself for not releasing the tape itself. According to The Hollywood Reporter, NBC News spent all week checking with their legal department about the implications of releasing the tape. Although they did get the all-clear, it was leaked to the Washington Post on Friday.
“NBC News did exactly what you would expect from a great news organization,” an NBC spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter on Sunday. “As soon as we saw the tape and made the assessment it was undoubtedly newsworthy, we moved quickly and deliberately to get it published and to do so in the most responsible way.”