NBC has parted ways with “Today” anchor Billy Bush after a tape of the television personality engaging in a crude conversation about women with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump surfaced earlier this month.
In a brief memo to the staff of “Today,” the show’s executive producer Noah Oppenheimconfirmed late Monday that Mr. Bush was no longer part of the morning news program. Mr. Bush had been suspended from the show since the tape became public on Oct. 7.
The tape was recorded in 2005 when Mr. Bush was co-host of NBC’s entertainment show “Access Hollywood.” Since it became public Mr. Bush has been heavily criticized for his part in the conversation while accompanying Mr. Trump to the set of a soap opera where the real estate mogul was making a cameo.
On the tape, Mr. Trump boasts of his prowess with women in at-times graphic and forceful terms and described his failed efforts to have sex with Nancy O’Dell, who was Mr. Bush’s co-host of “Access Hollywood” at the time. Mr. Bush laughs along with Mr. Trump and also comments on the appearance of the actress greeting the real estate mogul.
“Yes! The Donald has scored. Whoa my man,” Mr. Bush tells Mr. Trump.
In suspending Mr. Bush last week, Mr. Oppenheim said, “there is simply no excuse for Billy’s language and behavior on that tape.”
Neither NBC nor Mr. Bush’s attorney Marshall Grossman of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, would comment on the terms of his departure. Mr. Bush doesn’t have a noncompete clause as part of his exit, a person familiar with the matter said.
In a statement Mr. Bush said, “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.”
Initially, NBC officials said there would be no reprimand for Mr. Bush. That changed after key staff members of “Today” expressed their opinion that it would be detrimental to the show to keep him around. Mr. Bush was a relative newcomer to the program, having only joined as anchor of the 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. hour last summer.
Mr. Bush’s role on the tape is only one of the headaches it caused for NBC. Found by an “Access Hollywood” producer, the tape was leaked to the Washington Post before either the show or NBC News could air its own story.
Since then, NBC News has been battling accusations that it moved too slowly on the story, a charge it denied.
The tape became a major focus of the Oct. 10 debate and since then several women have come forward accusing Mr. Trump of sexual harassment and assault. He has denied those claims and belittled the accusers. As for the conversation with Mr. Bush, the Republican candidate said it was nothing more than “locker-room talk.”
[Source:-The Wall Street Journal]