Billy Bush Fired From 'Today' Show After Donald Trump Lewd Tape Scandal
Billy Bush has been fired from the Today show, following the release of a 2005 tape in which he's heard laughing and joking as Donald Trump makes lewd comments about women.
"Billy Bush will be leaving the Today show's 9am hour, effective today," Today show senior VP Noah Oppenheim wrote in an internal memo to the program's staff. "While 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."
Bush released a statement to ET after his termination from Today, sharing, "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."
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The 45-year-old television personality had appeared on the third hour of NBC's Today show since August. He was suspended indefinitely on Oct. 9, two days after The Washington Post leaked video of a vulgar conversation between Trump and Bush, who was then co-host of Access Hollywood.
In the footage, Trump can be heard telling Bush that he unsuccessfully tried to seduce Entertainment Tonight host Nancy O'Dell, who was Bush's Access Hollywood co-host at the time. Trump, 70, could also be heard making graphically sexual comments that included remarks about groping other women, stating, "When you're a star they let you do it… You can do anything."
Bush apologized shortly after the video surfaced on Friday, telling ET in a statement, "Obviously I'm embarrassed and ashamed. It's no excuse, but this happened 11 years ago -- I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I'm very sorry."
The father of three was set to appear on the Today show on Monday to address his comments made with Trump, however, the network later decided to not let Bush appear. In an internal memo obtained by ET, Today show senior producer Noah Oppenheim said on Sunday that "there is simply no excuse for Billy's language and behavior on that tape," and that Bush has been suspended "pending further review of this matter."
A source close to the situation tells ET that NBC News did not know about the tape until last week.
Meanwhile, a source told ET on Monday that Bush definitely still had his supporters at Today. "Billy has a good relationship with each of the anchors and hosts," the source said. "Let's not forget Billy has been a part of the NBC family for a long time and they have all known him."
Several of Bush's former female co-hosts have also spoken out in his defense, including Kit Hoover, who hosted Access Hollywood Live with Bush from 2010 to this year, when he left to co-anchor Today.
"The tapes are inexcusable. But I'm watching this tape and I'm watching this person -- those tapes were a decade ago and it was seven minutes of someone's life," Hoover said. "And all I can tell you is what I know and the person that I sat next to for the last six years, and that person for me is a totally different person."
Bush was last spotted in Encino, California, on Monday, following his suspension. An eyewitness told ET the host looked disheveled as he wore sweatpants and flip-flops.
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On Monday, O'Dell addressed Trump's lewd comments about her on-air on Entertainment Tonight, advocating for young girls to know it's their hard work and their heart that is "most important."
"The conversation has got to change because everybody deserves respect, no matter the gender or setting," O'Dell said. "And as a mom, I have to add that our kids, especially our young girls, need to know that their hard work, their achievements, their intelligence, their heart are most important, and those things will not go unnoticed."
"There is no room for objectification of women, or anyone for that matter, not even in the 'locker room,'" she added, referring to Trump's comments that his conversation with Bush was "locker room talk."