Billy Bush will not be appearing in his regular place on the TODAY show at 9 a.m. on Monday morning.
In light of the part he played in the vile and lewd conversation from a hot mic interview with Republican nominee, Donald Trump, TODAY show co-host Billy Bush has been told by the network to take a break.
The Los Angeles Times confirmed Bush’s hiatus from the show with an NBC News spokesperson. NBC’s decision follows the release on Friday by The Washington Post of some very lewd sexual speculation between Bush and Trump during a taping of Hollywood Access and the furor their comments have caused over the weekend.
Co-host Al Roker, who was previously scheduled for time off for medical reasons, will now be hosting Monday’s program, although no one is sure how long the Bush ban will last. At this juncture, speculation runs from a week’s suspension to an outright firing.
On Saturday, NBC News executives said that they had no plans to either suspend or fire Bush for the embarrassing tape, but the situation appears to have changed for the worse for Bush.
In the tape, Bush is heard with Trump discussing the candidate’s attempts to seduce women, including married women, with Bush laughing along. In the tape, Trump is telling Bush that he can get away with doing “anything” to women, because he’s a star. Bush seems to be encouraging Trump in the tape, and the two even discuss Bush’s co-host, Nancy O’Dell, in a lascivious and disrespectful way.
Bush issued a statement via the network:
‘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.’
Billy Bush is 44, so it’s rather difficult to excuse this behavior as a “foolish,” boyish prank when the perpetrator was in his mid-30s at the time.
As the Trump story goes nuclear, with calls from his own party for him to drop out of the presidential race, Bush is now fully associated with the shameful event. Republican Rep. Charlie Dent referred to it as “the Billy Bush video,” leaving Bush’s reputation sullied for good.
Fans of the TODAY show have called out for Bush to be fired, as well. Many left blistering messages for the show on its Facebook page. One viewer stated:
‘He is disgracing the women and daughters he wants to watch him. Count me out for now, TODAY, until Billy Bush is gone as a host.’
Bush is a new addition to the TODAY panel, having joined the cast in August, and some have speculated that he was intended as a replacement for Matt Lauer. Unfortunately, the Access Hollywood video tape will put a major dent in Bush’s future career, particularly with the TODAY Show.
A talent agent speaking anonymously to the LA Times said that dismissing or suspending Bush for something that occurred on a different show so many years ago might prove to be problematic for the network, and that they may be forced to buy out his contract in order to rid themselves of his newly toxic brand, instead.
The video released of the conversation between Donald Trump and Billy Bush can be seen below, and starts with the two of them discussing Bush’s co-star, Nancy O’Dell. They both then start discussing actor Arianne Zucker in the same fashion. The video tape shows Bush and Trump meeting her outside a studio set. Donald Trump was working with Zucker in a guest appearance on the soap opera, Days of Our Lives. It contains explicit language.