Billy Bush speaks for the first time since the P-ssygate controversy exploded

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Woe is the justifiably maligned white guy, for he is truly the least among us. Billy Bush covers the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter, in what is his first in-depth interview since the Grab-’Em-By-The-P-ssy Tape came out last October. It was stunning to me to realize that it’s been seven months. It’s felt like a lifetime. In 2005, Billy Bush was with Access Hollywood and his assignment was spending the day with Donald Trump. They were on a hot mic and Trump said deplorable things, with Bush actively egging him on. The tape should have derailed Trump’s campaign. It did not. It did derail Bush’s life though – he was fired from the Today Show and he’s spent the last seven months “soul searching,” working with spiritual guru Tony Robbins and meditating. You can read the full THR piece here. Some highlights:

How he explained the tape to his teenage daughters: “My [then] 15-year-old, Mary, called me from boarding school, and she was in tears: “Dad, Dad, Dad,” and I said, “Everything is going to be fine, Mary. Everything’s going to be OK.” It’s just instinctively what you say to your daughter. And she said, “No, why were you laughing at the things that he was saying on that bus, Dad? They weren’t funny.” It hit really hard, and I stopped for a second, and I said, “I have no answer for that that’s any good. I am really sorry. That was Dad in a bad moment a long time ago. You know me. I am really sorry that you had to hear and see that. I love you.” She needed to hear that, and I certainly needed to tell her that.

How he feels about everything that’s happened: “I’ve come out of this with a deeper understanding of how women can connect to the feeling of having to fight extra hard for an even playing field. The ground isn’t even. Maybe it’s improving, but still it isn’t even. When a woman watches that tape — and this is what really hit me — they may be asking themselves, “Is that what happens when I walk out of a room? When I walk out of a meeting, is that what they’re saying about me? Are they sizing me up?” I can’t live with that. If a moment like that arose again, I would shut it down quickly. I am in the women-raising business, exclusively. I have three daughters — Mary, Lillie, Josie — and I care very much about the world and the people they encounter.

His job at Access Hollywood was to connect with celebrities: “With Donald, there wasn’t much interaction. He sort of talks and performs, and everybody reacts. And the topics were usually golf, gossip or women. And boy, do I wish this was a golf day. But I always had a nervous energy through these situations because he also decided a lot of times from day to day, moment to moment, who he liked, who was in and who was out, and my job was to remain in. I needed to be in, or maybe I’d be out. So that was the Trump environment. Looking back on what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic. I wish I had said: “Does anyone want water?” or “It looks like it’s gonna rain.” He liked TV and competition. I could’ve said, “Can you believe the ratings on whatever?” I didn’t have the strength of character to do it.

Whether he’d heard Trump talk that way about women before: “I don’t recall anything to that degree. But he’s a provocateur. Shocking statements flow like wine from him. And he likes to captivate an audience.

Whether it was locker-room banter, as Trump claimed: “No. I’m in a lot of locker rooms, I am an athlete, and no, that is not the type of conversation that goes on or that I’ve participated in.

Whether that was how Trump approached women: “I felt that, in that moment, he was being typically Donald, which is performing and shocking. Almost like Andrew Dice Clay, the stand-up comedian: Does he really do the things that he’s saying or is that his act? And in Donald’s case, I equated it that way. When he said what he said, I’d like to think if I had thought for a minute that there was a grown man detailing his sexual assault strategy to me, I’d have called the FBI.

NBC knew of the tape for a long time: “I [had] never shared knowledge of the tape with anyone who didn’t already know of its existence. And that was plenty of people…I heard it for the first time seven and a half months ago, three days before the rest of the world heard it. I was shocked and alarmed and totally and completely gutted. It was awful. And my participation was awful, too. I remember that guy, he was almost sycophantic. It was my first year as co-host of Access Hollywood, and I was an insecure person, a bit of a pleaser, wanting celebrities to like me and fit in. There is an expression, “Meet them where they are for each person.” For Ben Affleck, it’s Boston sports. But I went way too far in my desire to keep this No. 1 star happy.

[From THR]

I came out of this feeling rather meh on Billy Bush. I was never angrier at Bush than I was at Trump, though – I mean, Bush was disgusting and enabling in the Access Hollywood tape, but I was always clear: Trump was the deplorable one, he was the one bragging about sexually assaulting women. Bush deserved to be fired, Trump deserved to lose the election. That was how I thought of it. So do I buy Bush’s come-to-Jesus moment? The thing is…he makes it seem like he’s only worried about women’s rights now because he has daughters. That bugs me. But what bugs me even more is that this is just another reminder that NBC sat on a mountain of evidence that Trump was and is unfit for office.

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Photos courtesy of THR.

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37 Responses to “Billy Bush speaks for the first time since the P-ssygate controversy exploded”

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  1. Wilma says:

    In a perfect world men wouldn’t need to think of women as daughters, wives, mothers and sisters to be feminist. But in this world I don’t really care how men come to realize that women are fully fledged people too, as long as they do I’m okay for now.
    I do like a lot of the things Billy is saying here. He seems to understand the full weight of it.

    • Runcmc says:

      Agreed. He sounds remorseful and horrified with himself. And while he explains his mentality at the time it doesn’t read to me like he’s trying to pass the blame. I think he came across well here.

      • cate says:

        I agree. its not enough that he could have switched topic, he should have stood up and like he said, he lacked the strength of character to do so. i dont think he is some evil bastard but he was smug back then and standing idly by when things like this happen, makes you a direct part of the problem. i like how he said his daughter was so upset and he had no excuse. he’s right, women face this EVERYDAY. I can at least appreciate that he seems to understand his role and the larger reality. its a real shame, however, that he took more heat than the scumbag we elected into the highest office. how fucked up is that? billy bush is still a bit of a troll but at least he attempted to acknowledge his part and why it was wrong. its more than we ever got from trump and his cronies. sad.

      • Esmom says:

        Agreed. Refreshing for someone to take full ownership of a terrible mistake…it seems to happen so rarely with public figures.

        And cate I’m with you in still being outraged that Bush took so much more heat than Bigly.

  2. Rhiley says:

    I thought the first comments showed he has the still emotional maturity of a teenage boy. He was so focused on himself and was concerned his daughter was worried about him losing his job but no, she was asking him, more or less, why are you only as mature as a teenage boy? I don’t feel bad for him, but it is really unfair that he lost his job and while Trump gained the biggest one.

  3. littlemissnaughty says:

    I have so many issues with how he’s talking about that day. Like it was aberration, like it wasn’t really about misogyny and assault. As if that wasn’t acutally the quintessential Donald we’ve come to know and despise. Like the guy was just talking and would never follow up of course. By walking into a room full of half-naked very young women during a beauty pageant for example? Yeah.

    My main issue is that people who like to differentiate between “the person who did that” and the person they are now never seem to fully understand what they did. He was an adult at that point. There is no excuse. And I wish men weren’t so dependent on thinking about their mothers/wives/daughters when trying to decide if something is sexist or misogynist. Especially the daughters reasoning pisses me off. Because that just means an extension of themselves is treated poorly so suddenly they wake up.

    How about he steps away from that and thinks “What kind of man am I?” It’s not about the female relatives, it’s about you as a man. Is THIS how you see yourself? As a vile person with no true respect for 50% of the world’s population?

    • Mltpsych says:

      Have you never said something that you later regretted? I am impressed that he owns who he was and how he has tried to change. Some things in life wake us up. He admits he was new at his job and was sucked no up to Trump and wishes he did things differently. He is a product of white, male privilege and behaved accordingly. he regrets his past decision and is actively trying to change so I can’t hate on him.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        ” That was Dad in a bad moment a long time ago. You know me. I am really sorry that you had to hear and see that.”

        Sure. That sounds like he’s fully owned it. Even now he acts like it wasn’t serious, like Trump only wanted to shock and be provocative.

        I have certainly done and said things I regret but no, not on this douche level. As people above have pointed out, he wasn’t quite so helpless and innocent as he now pretends. He actively dragged that poor woman into the situation when they got off that bus and practically forced her to hug the vile creature. He participated because – best case scenario – he was sucking up to the guest.

        I can see why someone would be more forgiving. A little remorse is better than none. But I just see too many excuses and I just expect more. As I said, I’m also just tired of the “I have daughters” shtick. Just … don’t. You’re a human being, that should be enough.

    • jwoolman says:

      A friend in grad school told me that talking seriously with his wife is what changed him from a stereotypical male sexist pig…. (ok, it was the 70s). I think that’s pretty normal for humans. When it’s not something you experience personally, it may not really hit you how it is for the people directly affected until you get straight talk from someone you love and/or respect. Many people don’t relate to generalities but do relate strongly to particular experiences. That’s not a bad thing, and it suggests how we need to proceed to work for change in attitudes.

      Billy’s daughter was one of those people who could change his view of the world for Billy with just a few words from the heart.
      He thought she was worried about his job and then realized how deeply hurt she was that her father had been talking like this and letting some guy talk like this and even encouraging him to keep it up. That view of what he had done from a child he loved shook him up in a way probably no one else could, and he saw the world differently.

      I think it was a very honest interview. He wasn’t making excuses for himself and he wasn’t just mouthing the expected.. And people do change in response to new information delivered by people they love and trust. It may seem unfair that Billy was punished more than Trump – but let’s face it. Nothing was likely to change Trump’s view of such matters. But Billy was reachable and so the bad consequences for him were actually worth it.

  4. Aiobhan Targaryen says:

    It would not have mattered if they had released everything they had on Dump. Dump’s voters, Bernie Bots, and the people who stayed home heard all of the other things he said and did not care enough to stop him. His voters specifically thought they were going to be saved from the evil black man who worked hard to get them healthcare, coal jobs were going to come back, and somehow only the bad immigrants were going to be kicked out of the country- even though he never described who the bad illegals were. He sold them on every racist dream they ever wanted and they were willing to overlook their so-called morals and values to win.

  5. grabbyhands says:

    Please.

    Bitch probably used every bit of his family pull to keep his job. The industry is ALWAYS going to protect a pretty boy white man with money and good connections. I’m pretty sure they told him he at least had to do a contrite apology tour so everyone could see how aware he is now and all would be forgiven. Pretty sure the only thing he feels bad about is getting caught.

    • Cynical Ann says:

      He lost his job. Based on what do you think he’s not sorry? He has teenaged daughters-unless he’s a total monster (which there is no evidence of) I’m sure he was embarrassed. Trump was the one who made the disgusting comments. He laughed-and while that was gross and immature-he wasn’t the one who said it to begin with. People can be contrite-and based on the interview he sounds like he is.

  6. greenmonster says:

    I was disgusted by him, when they left the bus and he introduced Trump to a woman (who would appear alongside Trump on whatever kind of show it was) and basically forced her to give Trump a hug. She shook Trumps hand and Bush said something along the lines of “What no hug? Give him a hug.” Trump just bragged about sexually assaulting women and Bush made the next woman in sight to make physical contact with this creep!

    • Lipreng says:

      “How about a little hug for the Donald? He just got off the bus. How about a little hug for the Bushy? I just got off the bus.”
      Disgusting.

      • nemera34 says:

        That was the thing that I hated about him. That he set the woman up. He knew what Trump had said and he provided and opportunity for Trump to “do his thing” again with this woman that was clueless. That was gross. and extremely offensive. I hope he sees how wrong it was. That he is remorseful. I hope he sought out the woman and apologized to her as well.

    • Sadezilla says:

      I forgot about that part. That was disgusting, good point. He was not a passive participant in this. He sounds contrite to me in this article, but who knows. It was vile behavior.

    • Borgqueen says:

      I logged on here to say same thing. While he does sound contrite, he was an active participant. I love how he skipped over how he made that actress hug Donald. As karma would have it, Billy has 3 daughters so I hope he was sincere in realizing how he played a part. It still outrageous that he lost his career but Trump still won the election.

  7. Shambles says:

    I read this last night as I battled some crazy insomnia and continued to try to process the last two weeks.

    One, I get a super woe-is-me, look how much my douchiness has ruined my life vibe from him here. I’m not for it.

    Two, I COMPLETELY disagree with what he says about not having the “strength of character” to change the subject. It’s not ANYONE’S job to keep a man from bragging about sexual assault. That is aaaaall on Donald John Trump. It says much more about his character than anything else.

  8. Lightpurple says:

    Is cousin JEB speaking to him yet?

  9. tracking says:

    Typical beta dude enabling the alpha. Alphas would lose all power if the betas refused to play. Although this was a pretty thoughtful interview and the remorse seems sincere (that discussion with his daughter was painful), I just can’t muster much sympathy for this pretty, privileged frat boy.

  10. I believe he “gets” it. I believe Donald Trump never will.

    It was 12 years ago, his explanation as far as trying to have an “in” with the guest and not be disliked by Donald Trump rings true. As we’ve seen, Trump has zero qualms about throwing someone out if he decides he doesn’t like them.

    I also think that now that his daughters are older, he is starting to see the world in an entirely different light.

    At least it is my hope that he is someone who has learned from past mistakes and grown from them.

  11. Nancy says:

    I wonder how any other entertainment show guy like him, which most of them are, would have reacted. He got what he deserved, but what about the creep who said the words to get the reaction. Once again slippery donald walks on water to his devotees and Billy gets the ax and sounds even guiltier and slimier using his daughters for some sort of sympathy vote which I’m quite sure many men who wish they could live like trump would give him. Pathetic. NBC sucks as well.

  12. TQB says:

    Agree with the “meh” assessment, but again, what kind of a freakshow are we living in where an entertainment reporter can show more emotional growth and awareness than THE FREAKING PRESIDENT?

  13. Bobbysue says:

    We thought we had fought the good fight against misogyny and bigotry and had come out on the other side as united enlightened Americans. However, we were woefully mistaken. That hatred was still around; it was just hiding and awaiting this “leader” to round up all their bigoted ignert asses to MAGA like it was before their wimmen-folk and “the colored” got so uppity.

  14. Bobbysue says:

    I cannot edit my comment. So because I strayed off-topic in my previous post, might I suggest that if Billy finds it hard to keep his daughter in notebook paper, he could throw his hat into the political arena as that apparently does not require as high of a degree of moral turpitude as does entertainment reporting.

  15. TomatoGirl says:

    “I wish I would’ve Changed the subject” is not good enough, Billy.

  16. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    I’d like to believe that the moment his daughter expressed her disappointment in him his remorse became genuine.

  17. MC2 says:

    I second the f- NBC sentiment. They should have released the tape earlier & they have more. They had the power to avoid hitting this ice berg but they didn’t and now we are all sinking. Throw them overboard first.

  18. perplexed says:

    I don’t think he did the right thing, but in a weird way I do find his answers believable. There are times I’ve heard people talking a certain way, and people don’t really shut it down. People either just let the person keep on talking, or they kind of laugh awkwardly and nervously, knowing that the person is kind of a weirdo. To be fair, though, none of them are in a media position. But I did find the reasoning for his behavior believable, even if I don’t think he should get a pass or I don’t find him generally sympathetic as an overall person.

    • Jay (the Canadian one) says:

      I get what you’re saying but it doesn’t jibe with him being an active enabler after they got off the bus: “how about a hug for the Donald?” etc.

      • perplexed says:

        Oh, I didn’t know about that part. I didn’t know he told someone to actually hug Donald Trump. Ew.

  19. Tan says:

    Actually, it indeed is true. Douchebags start to understand the importance of women’s right onky after they have a daughter, occasionally only whem they are coming of age or teenage.

    Atleast its how it is with most Douchebags I have observed around.

    Unless they realise their own progeny are susceptible to hurt and humiliation they have perpetuated…..offcourse some of them never learn

    • Jay (the Canadian one) says:

      It would be better if he got it without the daughter making it “real” for him, but it seems like even having daughters did nothing to open Trump’s eyes.

  20. Bella says:

    White and privileged. Sit down Billy, we don’t care about you. Just go away.

  21. Otaku Fairy says:

    I sort of believe him (it’s not an excuse, but it’s a start and he seems sincere) but his ‘Trump couldn’t have really do those things’ argument just comes off as ignorant, even if it’s what he really believes. Trump has walked in on pageant girls while they were dressing. He’s been accused by one of his ex-wives of raping her- and even though she later on denied it, I believe it actually happened but she backed down after the combination of whatever pressure/bribery/blackmail Trump and his people put on her and the thought of taking that to court and going public against him got to her. He was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl back in the 90′s. He’s been accused of sexually harassing multiple women over the years. He’s made sexualizing comments about 10-and 13-year-old girls. He’s made a statement where he basically says that women getting raped in the military is something to be expected when you put the sexes together- implying that he’s a 70-something-year-old man who sees these things as just natural things men and boys end up doing when a woman or girl is around.

  22. T-tobes says:

    Everything is awful, as usual. BUT:

    Whether he’d heard Trump talk that way about women before: “I don’t recall anything to that degree. But he’s a provocateur. Shocking statements flow like wine from him. And he likes to captivate an audience.

    That was the ‘answer’ to a question about Trump vs. women.

    Slimy little worm.

  23. The Voice says:

    Part of me wants to give him credit for realizing the weight of the matter (finally). It doesn’t excuse any of it and even his “solution” now to change the subject is flimsy at best. He’s right, he didn’t have the strength of character to really stand up against what Drumpf said. Or, he weighed the pros and cons and decided that doing what would’ve been right wasn’t worth losing favor with this “celebrity.” Weak.

    If John Oliver had been on that bus he would’ve squarely cut Drumpf down. I love John Oliver.