The Slatest

How Access Hollywood Tried (and Failed) to Protect Billy Bush

Billy Bush visits the Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show in 2014 in New York City.

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Somebody messed up Access Hollywood’s plans for a huge scoop. The NBC-owned show was aiming to break the story of Donald Trump boasting about sexual assault on its show, but the Washington Post beat it to the punch, reports the Wrap’s Sharon Waxman. Instead, Access Hollywood found itself reporting on the tape after the Post published the full exchange. Yet what was notable about Access Hollywood’s coverage is how much of Billy Bush’s role in the conversation it left out from the tape it put on air.

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The video broadcast by Access Hollywood leaves out a few choice statements by Bush, including when he says, “Sheesh, your girl’s hot as shit — in the purple. Yes! The Donald has scored. Whoa, my man!” in a description of the actress Trump was about to meet. Plus, Access Hollywood attributes a part of the conversation to Trump that the Post said was “another voice, apparently Bush’s.”

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Although Access Hollywood had the tape, it didn’t plan to air it before the debate, according to CNN, which says the earliest it could have aired was Monday night. NBC sources tell CNN they think it was someone at NBC who leaked the video to the Post.

Bush has said he’s “horribly embarrassed” by the tape, but so far at least there are no signs he could lose his job as a result. “Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago—I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry,” Bush said in a statement. It seems NBC agrees with that line. “It happened 11 years ago,” an NBC source tells the New York Post. “Billy was in a different place. He was a lot younger and more immature. He’s definitely embarrassed by this, but his job at Today is safe.” The Wall Street Journal also confirms NBC isn’t planning to reprimand Bush, who is reportedy going to be addressing the tape on the Today show on Monday.

How long had Access Hollywood been sitting on the tape? Not as long as you might think. Turns out a producer only remembered the interview on Monday after the Associated Press published a story quoting former Apprentice employees, according to CNN.

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