“NBC News announced last night that Billy Bush would be leaving the Today show effective immediately, noting that he was a valued colleague and a longtime member of the broader NBC family,” Today‘s host-in-chief Lauer, told viewers.
Last night’s announcement already had been widely covered by cable news networks, online news outlets, evening newscasts, and late-night comedy shows. “There are a lot of signs the economy is improving, but there are still a lot of people out there struggling to find work. Did you know unemployment is currently at 100% among America’s Billy Bush-es,” Stephen Colbert announced last night, as a for instance.
Today show’s official on-air ceremony followed the announcement to staff, and the media, late yesterday that Bush was out, after being suspended little more than a week. NBC News’ SVP Noah Oppenheim, who informed staff in a memo, previously had suspended Bush two days after Washington Post published an old Access Hollywood tape in which Bush and Trump had a lewd conversation about women, caught on a hot mic. Oppenheim, who is the executive in charge of the important morning franchise, had hired Bush just this past May, in hopes of boosting ratings on its 9 AM hour.
“A statement Billy released separately last night read in part, ‘I look forward to what lies ahead.’ And of course, all of us here at Today wish Billy the very best,” Lauer added this morning.
The news division is said to have paid handsomely to extricate itself from the storyline in which Bush, formerly host of NBCU’s Access Hollywood, set up a hug between the then-Apprentice star and an NBC-employed actress. That after Bush had pronounced the actress “hot as shit,” immediately following Trump’s boast about being so famous he can grope attractive women with impunity.
Melania Trump has blamed Bush for having “egged on” her husband to make those taped boasts, in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that aired last night.