NBC has severed ties with Billy Bush for his role in the Donald Trump tape from 2005 on October 17. Bush, who was hosting the 9 a.m. hour of The Today Show, was first suspended indefinitely by the network upon further review.
Bush and NBC reached a settlement, with Bush hiring lawyer Marshall Grossman to represent him during the talks.
TMZ was the first to report that Bush and NBC reached a settlement. According to the site, he had signed a 3-year, $3.5 million deal with the network in August before he began hosting the 9 a.m. hour of Today. The exact terms of the deal were not revealed, but TMZ reports that he’s happy with the terms. NBC and Bush confirmed in statements, which you can read below, that the deal is done.
There were rumors that a $10 million settlement was on the table, but Grossman denied that.
Here is a look at the events that led to Bush’s firing and his past controversies.
1. Bush First Said He Was ‘Embarrassed and Ashamed’ by the Comments He Made With Trump
On the 2005 tape at the center of the controversy, Bush and Trump are speaking on an Access Hollywood bus while filming a segment about a cameo Trump made on Days of Our Lives. Trump describes an attempt he made to have sex with a “married woman,” later identified as Bush’s then-colleague Nancy O’Dell. Bush, who was also married at the time, is heard laughing throughout and egging Trump on.
When the bus arrives at the Days set, the two see actress Arianne Zucker. “Your girl’s hot as s—, in the purple… Yes! The Donald has scored!… Oh, my man,” Bush tells Trump, who was married to Melania at the time.
Bush’s first response to the tape was a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that read:
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.
However, Bush was 33 at the time the tape was made and married to Sydney Davis. Bush and Davis have been married since 1998 and have three daughters.
During her CNN interview with Anderson Cooper on October 17, Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, blamed Bush for Trump’s behavior in the video. She said that Bush and Trump were engaged in “boy talk, and he was led on — like, egged on — from the host to say dirty and bad stuff.”
After the settlement was announced, the two sides issued the following statements.
From Today senior VP Noah Oppenheim in a memo to staffers:
Billy Bush will be leaving the Today show’s 9 a.m. hour, effective today. hile 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.
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.
2. NBC Considered Not Reprimanding Bush at All Before Suspending Him
On October 8, The Wall Street Journal reported that NBC was considering not doing anything about Bush. However, by the afternoon of October 9, it was decided to suspend Bush indefinitely. On the morning of October 10, the Today Show simply mentioned that Bush was suspended.
“Let me be clear — there is simply no excuse for Billy’s language and behavior on that tape. NBC has decided to suspend Billy, pending further review of this matter,” Today senior VP Noah Oppenheim said in a memo to staffers that the Hollywood Reporter obtained. “If any of you have any questions or concerns please reach out to me directly, anytime day or night.”
On October 11, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Bush and NBC News started negotiating his exit from Today. Publicists also told THR that they did not want their clients interviewed by Bush.
3. Bush’s Voice Mail Featured an Assistant Telling Callers ‘He’s Busy Making America Great Again’
In one of its reports on the controversy, The New York Times reported that Bush’s voicemail features an assistant making a reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
“You’ve reached Billy Bush’s office. He’s busy making America great again,” the recording, which was later removed by late October 9, said.
However, Politico managed to make a recording of the message before it was erased.
Us Weekly also reports that Bush had posted a video on Instagram for Father’s Day, where he stands in front of a van advertising topless models. “Happy Father’s Day from a man who asks for nothing and needs very little,” was the caption for the video, which has since been removed.
4. There Were Rumors in 2009 That His Behavior Was Why Nancy O’Dell Left ‘Access Hollywood’
When Nancy O’Dell left Access Hollywood to join the rival Entertainment Tonight show, The New York Daily News reported that Bush’s behavior was the reason why she left.
“The atmosphere at Access Hollywood is like walking on a landmine because of Billy,” a source told the Daily News in 2009. “He throws tantrums and tirades and oftentimes for no apparent reason. It was one of several things that had Nancy at her wit’s end after 13 years.”
The source claimed that Bush and producer Rob Silverstein essentially ganged up on her and Silverstein played favorites with the two hosts.
“Any rumors regarding on-set issues between Nancy O’Dell and Billy Bush are unfounded and completely false. We continue to support Nancy’s decision and wish her all the best,” a rep for Access Hollywood told the Daily News.
When O’Dell was on The Wendy Williams Show in 2010, O’Dell denied that there was any truth to the rumors.
5. Tension at ‘Today’ Was Already High Because of Bush’s Ryan Lochte Interview in Rio
Bush joined Today during the Rio Olympics after leaving Access Hollywood and his first big scoop was supposed to be the first interview with Ryan Lochte after the swimmer claimed he and three others were robbed at gunpoint in Rio. That story turned out to be completely false, but Bush let Lochte tell it anyway. As Lochte’s story began to fall apart, Bush and Al Rocker got into a heated argument on air.
Video of the argument went viral because Bush said Lochte only lied about “some details.” On the other hand, Roker said that Lochte “lied” about everything.
After the Olympics were over, Today tried to show that Roker and Bush had smoothed over their difference. Bush claimed that his goal “was to play devil’s advocate a little.”
Since the very beginning of Bush’s tenure at Today, there had been rumors that he was not getting along with the rest of the crew. Page Six reported on August 15 that he was not being invited to after-hours fraternizing. Instead, he was hanging out with Access Hollywood co-host Kit Hoover. There was also another rumor from Radar Online that Lauer wasn’t even a fan of Bush being hired.
Page Six also reported that Bush bragged about the 2005 tape during a party in Rio. In fact, his bragging about it might have been what prompted Access Hollywood staffers to find the tape in the first place.
“Billy was bragging about the tape to other NBC staff while in Rio. If he knew about the tape, and remembered the full extent of such an explosive conversation with a presidential candidate and didn’t disclose that to NBC News, that is a very, very serious problem,” an insider told Page Six.
Before Bush reached a settlement, NBC insiders told Page Six that he was “technically fired. It’s just a matter of time. NBC isn’t ready to announce it yet. They are negotiating his exit.”