Billy Bush officially left NBC on Monday. You may have not noticed amongst all the hype surrounding the third presidential debate. It’s been two weeks since the “Access Hollywood” tape was leaked but I still wonder — how did a fluffy entertainment host like Bush get fired but Donald Trump, a man hoping to be President of the United States, get to keep running?
It makes me question what weird double standard we hold for these two men.
When the “Access Hollywood” tape came out on October 7 the blowback was intense for both Bush and Trump. Bush was suspended indefinitely from his “Today” show co-hosting gig (a job he only landed in August) and he issued an apology saying “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.”
As for Trump, dozens of GOP supporters started jumping ship as early as the day the tape was leaked. Trump had to issue his own apology saying in part, “I've said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong and I apologize.”
But I listened back to the whole tape this morning. Bush really only says a few things while talking to Trump. The most incriminating? “Sheesh, your girl’s hot as shit. In the purple.”
It’s Donald Trump that does most of the talking, including the now infamous “pussy” comment: “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Whatever you want. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
It’s pretty obvious to me which words are worse but somehow Bush got the shit-end of the deal.
The problem is Bush is beholden to his bosses at NBC who in turn must answer to millions of viewers. The company’s decision to suspend the new “Today” show host was no doubt due to pressure from the show’s audience — many of them women — who had started voicing their displeasure on Facebook and Twitter and threatening to boycott the show if Bush wasn’t removed. Two days after the tape was leaked executive producer of “Today” Noah Oppenheim gave into that pressure in an email to his employees saying “there is simply no excuse for Billy’s language and behavior on that tape.” Bush had already been replaced by Al Roker the next day.
But politicians like Trump have an obligation to those same viewers and many more — over 300 million people in fact. It’s just that our government doesn’t operate the same as a private company and our elected officials can’t just kick Trump out of the race. Trump will have to wait for another three weeks to learn his fate. He may well lose which would be the equivalent of being “fired” like Bush was. Or he may persuade the American people to look past his “Access Hollywood” comments and actually win.
If that’s the case, I wonder how NBC will be able to stand by their decision to fire Bush if some of their same viewers — and more — end up electing Trump.
I feel bad for Bush. I really do. Here's a guy that was just starting to get comfy in his new highly-coveted role. What a shame. Maybe next time he’s looking for a position with job security, he should consider running for office.
* * *