On an interview to The Hollywood Reporter, former Today host Billy Bush talks about the Trump tape and the scandal that it created, leading him to lose his job. Bush, who had replaced Willie Geist on the Today show since August 2016, had a short-lived time as a host after the infamous Trump tape leaked.
Billy Bush left NBC on October 17, a week after the Trump tape leaked. Just as a quick reminder, on the tape you can hear him and Donald Trump talking about women, while the latter said, at one point, that thanks to his status, women let him grab them “by the p****”.
But while Trump, in full presidential campaign, dismissed that recording saying it was just “locker room banter”, Bush could not clean his image that easy. He left the public eye with an undisclosed agreement with NBC and a severance package of several million dollars.
In the recent interview for The Hollywood Reporter, which is featured in the latest issue of the magazine, the 45-year-old opens-up about the “locker room banter”, as Trump called it. “I wish I had changed the topic”, he says, adding that Trump liked competition and television and he could have easily moved the topic in that direction. He adds: “I didn’t have the strength of character to do it.”
Bush recounts that the first person whom he had to explain his reactions on the tape – he as going along with the conversation and laughing at Trump’s remarks – was his 15-year-old daughter Mary. When the tape first came out, Mary called him and demanded explanations: “Why were you laughing at the things that he was saying on that bus, Dad? They weren’t funny”, he recalls her words. He said: “I have no answer for that that’s any good. I am really sorry. That was Dad in a bad moment a long time ago.”
Bush adds that all the members of his family, including his wife Sydney, and his three daughters, have been supportive of him since the beginning because they knew what kind of person he was. “Sydney knows the environment and the atmosphere I was in at the time, and she knows very well the person she married”, he added.
While calling it a “glaring irony”, the fact that after the tape, he got fired and the other one became president, the TV show host admits that this experience has made him tougher. ‘Robin Roberts’ mother has this quote, “Make your mess your message”’, he added, explaining that his revelation came from “a deeper understanding of how women can connect to the feeling of having to fight extra hard for an even playing field.”
Read the full interview in the upcoming issue of The Hollywood Reporter, hitting newsstands on May 24.