9 months ago
In an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, former Today host Billy Bush has finally delved into the story behind the Access Hollywood tape in which President Trump, then a star on the Apprentice, bragged about sexually assaulting women while Bush laughed and egged him on.
Though it did not ultimately cost Donald Trump his White House run — the candidate dismissed the recording as “locker room” talk — the scandal did derail Bush’s career. Now, for the first time since the story broke in October 2016, Bush, the nephew of President George H. W. Bush, is going on the record to talk about the fallout from the story, and how he’s handled the aftermath.
On how Bush thought the situation was going to play out when the tape first leaked:
“I thought that we would work through it and we would address people. I put together an apology right away, the one you saw; I told people that I was ashamed and embarrassed. And I was. So in the beginning, I thought, ‘OK, we’ll go and own up to this moment.’ Then I got home, and it started to become apparent that [I] would not be returning [to Today]. It hurt a lot, and I fell apart. But I had to put aside those feelings and get through legal things. I never had a legal team; I had never had a publicist before.”
On how one of his three daughters reacted:
“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.”
On how it feels that President Trump was elected, despite the contents of the tape:
“I will admit the irony is glaring. [Trump] has his process for his participation (in the tape,) and I have mine. I had to turn this into a positive. Robin Roberts’ mother has this quote, ‘Make your mess your message.’ And so I have that opportunity.
“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.”