As everyone knows, The Washington Post leaked audio of a conversation Donald Trump had with then Access Hollywood co-host Billy Bush. During their conversation, Trump said a number of incredibly sexist and offensive things about women, including the claim that “when you’re a star … you can do anything” to them.
Trump’s excuse for his offensive remarks — that “Bill Clinton has said far worse” — has not been sufficient to stop the deluge of backlash he has received. It has even been rumored that GOP officials have been meeting to figure out an alternative to Trump as the party’s nominee. While it’s unclear at this point what will happen to Trump going forward, CNN has been able to answer one question about the leaked audio: where it came from.
According to CNN Money, “The videotape of Donald Trump that is shaking up the presidential election sat forgotten on a shelf at NBC’s ‘Access Hollywood’ until just a few days ago.”
An NBC insider told CNN that the network was trying to determine what to do with the footage and were considering publishing a story about it. Another network insider said that the story was in the works but “wasn’t quite finalized.”
As NBC was working on their story, which wouldn’t have been able to air until Monday at the earliest, The Washington Post‘s David Fahrenthold, who has been working tirelessly to expose the lack of charitable giving from Trump’s foundation, somehow gained access to the tape. Since the tape had been stashed away at NBC, it only seems logical to assume that someone on the inside leaked it to Fahrenthold.
An unnamed source told Page Six that “there are only a few people who could have leaked [the tape.]” They listed the cameraman, the show’s editor, and Access Hollywood executive producer Rob Silverstein. According to the source, neither the cameraman nor the editor would have any incentive to keep the tape, making Silverstein the likely culprit.
Silverstein responded to the accusations, telling Page Six, “I am the last person in the world who would release that tape. Trust me. Let’s remember that. No chance. Don’t even infer it’s me. I don’t know who leaked it. I have no idea.”
If Silverstein is, in fact, the one who leaked the tape, what would be his reasoning for doing so now, eleven years after the fact? According to Page Six’s source, “The…only [reason to] leak it now [is] because of Donald Trump’s bid for president.”
NBC only learned about Fahrenthold’s possession of the tape when the Post contacted them for a comment, forcing NBC’s staff to quickly put together a story to be published shortly after the Post‘s.
Donald Trump’s campaign has entered damage control mode after this incredibly vulgar footage was released. Billy Bush doesn’t seem to be faring any better. According to Page Six, Bush and the Today show, which he currently hosts, “were both getting eviscerated on Facebook on Friday, with commenters flooding their most recent posts with nasty remarks.”