NBC suspends ‘Today’ show personality Billy Bush for role on Trump tape

In this Sept. 26, 2016 photo released by NBC, co-host Billy Bush appears on the "Today" show in New York. Bush says he's "embarrassed and ashamed" by a 2005 conversation he had with Donald Trump in which Trump made lewd comments about women. Bush, then a host of the entertainment news show "Access Hollywood," was chatting with Trump as the businessman waited to make a cameo appearance on a soap opera. In a statement Friday, Oct. 7, Bush says he was younger and less mature when the incident occurred, adding that he "acted foolishly in playing along." (Peter Kramer/NBC via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — NBC has suspended “Today” show personality Billy Bush indefinitely for his role in the recently surfaced videotape of Donald Trump’s crude conversation about women.

“Today” show Executive Producer Noah Oppenheim said in a memo that “there is simply no excuse for Billy’s language and behavior on that tape.”

NBC has suspended Bush from his job as host of the “Today” show’s third hour, “pending further review of the matter.”

Although Bush was working for entertainment news show “Access Hollywood” when he and Trump exchanged crass, caught-on-video remarks about women in 2005, he’s now a co-host of NBC News’ “Today” and, observers say, may have violated standards of journalism as well as civility.

Even as a host on “Access Hollywood,” Bush should have known better, said Jonathan Handel, an entertainment industry lawyer and teacher at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law.

“Someone in even a faux-journalist position has a lot of power to influence attitudes and behavior,” Handel said. “This isn’t so much about journalist ethics as it is the line between respectful behavior and vulgar behavior.”

The Trump video, which immediately swamped media headlines and drew rare apologies from Trump, stemmed from a visit that he and Bush paid to a soap opera set a decade ago.

In the video, which was first published by The Washington Post, Trump brags to Bush about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women who were not his wife. Trump was apparently unaware that a live microphone caught the exchange.

In a statement released by NBC News, Bush apologized Friday for his part in the encounter.

“Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened 11 years ago — I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry,” he said.

Bush, 44, has his own political connection: His father, Jonathan Bush, is the brother of former President George H.W. Bush. According to Billy Bush’s NBC News biography posted online, he earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies and government from Colby College in Maine.

He and Trump spoke as the future Republican presidential candidate prepared to tape a cameo on the daytime soap “Days of Our Lives.” As they arrived at the studio, Bush spotted an actress, Arianne Zucker, who was to accompany them onto the set.

“Sheesh, your girl’s hot as (expletive). In the purple,” Bush said, referring to the color of Zucker’s dress. “Whoa, the Donald is good! Whoa, my man!”

“I’ve gotta use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump said. “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful … I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

“Grab them by the p—-. You can do anything,” Trump added.

The two men then greet Zucker, and Bush plays matchmaker.

“How about a little hug for the Donald?” he says to the actress, adding, “How about a little hug for the Bushy?”

There were seven other people on the bus with Trump and Bush at the time, including “Access Hollywood” staffers, members of Trump’s staff and a bus driver. The crew left the bus to film Trump and Bush exiting it, but their microphones were left on recording their conversation.

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