The Trump tape — leaked audio from 2005 that features Donald Trump bragging about his propensity for committing sexual assault, while then–Access Hollywood host Billy Bush goads him on — has officially ousted Bush from his plum Today show job.
NBC announced Bush’s departure on Monday afternoon, though the details of Bush’s severance package are still a mystery. Several reports have speculated that he’ll walk away with somewhere around $10 million. “The settlement does not include a noncompete clause, so Mr. Bush is free to look for a position elsewhere,” The New York Times reported.
The announcement is essentially a formality.
Since the tape was discovered, Bush’s job at Today has been in question. Last week, two reports, one from CNN’s Brian Stelter and another from the Hollywood Reporter, suggested it was only a matter of time before Bush was fired.
One of the sources said his departure will be announced "in the coming days."
He is effectively already gone. After being suspended on Sunday night, his name was missing from the 9 a.m. hour graphics on Monday and Tuesday. He and his assistant have not been in the office.
NBC’s decision isn’t that surprising. Morning show hosts are hired because they are “safe” — they must be, or at least appear to be, friendly, bubbly, good people. But Bush’s interjections on the tape (which was technically recorded by and at his workplace) tarnish his reputation.
"Jeez, your girl's hot as shit!” Bush is heard saying on the tape, cheering Trump on.
NBC is also thinking about its audience; the majority of daytime talk show viewers — some 73 percent, according to Pew Research — are women.
One of the strangest elements of Bush’s involvement in this story is a report from Page Six that claims Bush had bragged about the existence of the tape earlier this year, telling fellow NBC staffers about it but never informing higher-ups at NBC. That apparently prompted someone at Access Hollywood to track down the tape, and now it’s leading to Bush’s exit from one of the cushiest jobs in broadcast journalism. It’s not clear if anyone was even looking for the tape before Bush started telling people about it.
Essentially, it’s possible Bush got himself fired from his own plum job.
Meanwhile, the other man on the tape, the one who advocated for grabbing women “by the pussy,” is still in the race to be the next president of the United States.