Just when NBC News thought things finally had settled down, it again finds itself in the spotlight over a piece of high-profile talent left dangling while top brass tries to navigate some minefield (see Brian Williams, see David Gregory, see Ann Curry…).
While the hot mic has rocked the GOP presidential nominee’s White House bid, Bush is not expected to survive as a host of NBC’s Today, informed sources say. They cite the scorched-earth response to Bush’s antics inside the company, and by women on social, regardless of the fact that the incident occurred 11 years ago when he was not working at NBC News. Because the tape is just that bad.
Here’s a tip: Any time someone starts an apology with “It’s no excuse, but …” – it’s an excuse. Bush, for example, went with: “It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago—I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along.”
At the time of the incident, Bush was just months away from being old enough become POTUS himself, had he cared to run.
Also, if you are hoping to convince reporters covering your mea culpa that you are no longer an immature Donald Trump “hug pimp” [thank you, John Oliver] but a upright, downright forthright member of the NBC News team, maybe best to expunge that office voicemail message — “You’ve reached Billy Bush’s office. He’s busy making America great again” — before it can be heard by The New York Times as they report out your career implosion.
In the tape, Jeb Bush’s cousin is heard giggling as Trump boasts of being so famous he can kiss women and grab their genitalia with impunity. The GOP nominee also confides to the then-Access Hollywood host he tried but failed to bed Bush’s co-host. After which Bush is seen insisting a woman he has deemed sufficiently hot give Trump a hug and then ask for “a little hug for the Bushy.”
Bush is described as one of NBC News’s most important on-air personalities and the guy being groomed to become host-in-chief of Today. He was announced in May as new host of the 9 AM hour, which is the franchise’s weakest, ratings-wise. Bush was going to bring his celebrity-interviewing chops to the lighter hour – only it just got a lot harder to book female guests.
NBC’s getting low marks for initially announcing no discipline for Bush in the immediate aftermath of the Washington Post‘s tape drop. It took until Sunday afternoon for the network to announce Bush’s suspension, in a carefully worded memo from NBC News SVP Noah Oppenheim, assuring “we’ve all been deeply troubled by the revelations of the past 48 hours” and “there is simply no excuse for Billy’s language and behavior on that tape.”
Oppenheim’s timeline did not square with the network having told reporters it had the tape since Monday. And some sources suggest NBC may have been at least aware of the existence of such a tape since as long ago as the Rio Olympics.
Those games played a large role in Bush’s launch with NBC News; he famously broke the news, straight from the horse’s mouth, that Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte had been pulled over and robbed while a gun was pointed at his head. Only none of it was true, as Today’s Al Roker pointed out to Bush when the story fell apart. Bush pushed back, and a viral moment was born. Roker, deliciously, filled in for Bush at 9 AM today; Carson Daly does duty tomorrow.