Rob Silverstein, the executive producer for Access Hollywood who helped make Billy Bush a star, also reportedly helped end his career. Sources told the Daily Mail that Silverstein had a role in the leak of the infamous “pussygate” video, in which Bush laughed while future President Donald Trump said he can grab women “by the pussy” because he is a celebrity.
After the 2005 video leaked on October 7, 2016, Bush lost his career. A month later, Trump became president. The news that Silverstein might be responsible for the leak came just after Bush’s first post-scandal interview with The Hollywood Reporter was published and after his Good Morning America interview.
You can follow Silverstein on Twitter.
Here’s what you need to know about Silverstein and his motivations for leaking the tape.
1. Silverstein Knew About the Video for Years & Wanted NBC to Edit It Before the Washington Post Got it
Sources for The Daily Mail said that Silverstein, who was close friends with Bush, knew about the tape for years. Silverstein intended to hurt Trump’s campaign while also boosting Access Hollywood‘s ratings.
“Rob knew that the tape being released would be a huge story. Clearly, the tape would result in a scandal that would potentially undermine Trump and score record viewership for Access Hollywood,” the Daily Mail source explained. “But once he sent the tape to legal to get NBC to sign off on its release, that’s when his plan took a turn for the worst and he lost control of the situation.”
Silverstein first told NBC about the tape and wanted it to be edited before it aired on Access Hollywood. He wanted permission from the NBC legal department to release it. But then another player got in the way of that plan and leaked it to the Washington Post because this person was getting antsy. The Post published the full, unedited tape on October 7.
The Daily Mail’s sources said that Silverstein was not happy with how Bush was treated, especially since he planned on editing as much of Bush out of the video as possible.
A source also told the Mail that Bush hasn’t spoken to Silverstein once since he was fired by Today, even though he told the Hollywood Reporter that he’s been in contact with Matt Lauer and Hoda Kotb. Before the scandal, the two were such close friends that they were known as “Batman and Robin.”
“Billy hasn’t spoken to Rob. Not once. Maybe he will at some point, but right now, he hasn’t. I think it eats Rob up that Billy won’t hear him out. He already carries a lot of guilt about the situation, but it is clear he missed his friend,” the source told the Daily Mail.
2. Silverstein Was Bush’s ‘Protector’ at ‘Access’ & Is Godfather of Bush’s Youngest Daughter
The Daily Mail source said that Silverstein was considered Bush’s “protector” at Access Hollywood and “did everything possible to make sure his buddy shined. The last thing he would ever want was for Billy to think he would stab him in the back,”
Silverstein is also the godfather of Bush’s youngest daughter, Lillie.
In a 2006 Los Angeles Magazine story about Access Hollywood, Silverstein described how he shaped Bush for television.
“We keep trying to soften Billy,” Silverstein told the magazine. “He’s young and excitable. When he was just a reporter, you saw him once or twice in the show, and he could blast in. Now you see him the whole show, so we don’t want it to be that energy all the time.”
3. Silverstein Told the New York Post That He was ‘The Last Person in the World Who Would Release That Tape’
Silverstein has long been suspected in having a role in the release of the tape, but he denied being involved last year.
“I am the last person in the world who would release that tape. Trust me,” Silverstein told the New York Post in October 2016. “Let’s remember that. No chance. Don’t even infer it’s me. I don’t know who leaked it. I have no idea.”
A source told the Post at the time that NBC was in “crisis mode” at the time because they wanted to protect Bush. After all, it wasn’t until 10 days after the tape leaked that Bush was finally fired.
“There are only a few people who could have leaked this. The cameraman, who wouldn’t hold onto it. The editor, who also has no incentive to keep it and Rob Silverstein,” the source told the Post. “They are the ones with access. There would be no reason to hold onto it from 2005. The only [reason to] leak it now [is] because of Donald Trump’s bid for president. NBC is in crisis mode. They have to protect [Billy].”
4. Silverstein Joined ‘Access Hollywood’ in 1996 & Rose to Executive Producer in 1999
According to Silverstein’s show bio, he first joined Access Hollywood in 1996 to produce weekend episodes. He became executive producer in 1999 and has had the role ever since.
Before joining Access, Silverstein was a sports producer, winning three Sports Emmys. He started at KMOX-AM in St. Louis and joined CBS Sports in 1990. He also worked for Fox Sports and CBS Sports during the 1992 and 2994 Winter Olympics. The University of Maryland graduate is married with four children.
In a 2008 interview with Forbes, Silverstein said the Internet has drastically changed the way Access works.
“By 7:30 at night, people have been following some of this stuff for hours online,” he explained to Forbes. “So it’s not good enough for us just to have the story, we have to have what we call the Access angle. That’s our angle on the story so when we present it that evening it’s not a rehash of what they’ve already seen on 30 blogs. And, by the way, the other thing we can do better than any blog is be accurate. It’s the wild west of reporting out here, so we really pride ourselves on accuracy.”
5. Silverstein Got Into an Email Fight With In Touch Over the Bush-Lauer Feud Rumors
During the Summer Olympics in Rio, there were rumors that Bush didn’t get along with his other Today Show correspondents and that boiled over when Al Roker famously yelled at him over his infamous Ryan Lochte interview. In one report from In Touch Weekly, the tabloid claimed Bush and Lauer called each other “dude.”
“Your entire story about Billy Bush and Matt Lauer is completely erroneous. DUDE!! None of that happened and you guys know this. DUDE! Your standards get lower every week. DUDE,” Silverstein wrote in an email to In Touch editor David Perel, The New York Post reports.
“Not only was I bemused by the absurdity and idiocy of Rob’s emails, but I wondered, ‘Shouldn’t this guy be spending more time trying to catch up to the three syndicated entertainment shows that are kicking his butt in the ratings rather than indulging his anger?'” Perel told the Post.
Silverstein then told the paper, “When I see a friend [Bush] being wronged, I’ll defend them.”