DC Trawler

The End Of An Era: Billy Bush Leaves NBC

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In the two glorious months that Billy Bush hosted the third hour of the Today Show, he became an intrinsic part of American life. Water coolers and chatrooms across the country thrummed with excitement: “Did you hear what Billy Bush said this morning? Gotta love that Billy Bush!” He was a phenomenon. He was America’s Best Bro.

And now it’s all over. Brian Stelter, CNN:

After several days of tough negotiations, Billy Bush is leaving NBC, effective immediately…

Monday night’s exit announcement included his first new comments in over a week.

“I am deeply grateful for the conversations I’ve had with my daughters, and for all of the support from family, friends and colleagues,” he said. “I look forward to what lies ahead.”

Stephen Miller at Heat Street* is asking the same question I’m asking: “Why is Billy Bush being thrown under the bus, when Donald Trump – whose bad behavior was widely known at NBC – suffered no consequences for the more than a decade when he was one of NBC’s biggest stars?”

Bush was just some shlub working for Access Hollywood. Yeah, he’s part of a famous family, and that’s how he got the job, but he was (and is) much, much less famous and powerful than Trump. His job was to do exactly what we heard him do on that tape: Make the guy feel comfortable. Speak his language. Play along. Don’t ruffle any feathers.

What was he supposed to do when Trump blurted out, “Grab ’em by the pussy”? Was he supposed to demand an apology? “How dare you, sir! This is a disgrace. On behalf of everyone at the National Broadcasting Company, I demand you apologize to women everywhere. I demand it!”

He would’ve been out on his ass before you could say “Access Unemployment.”

This is like firing an underling for bringing you the wrong brand of coconut water, after they’ve brought exactly what you demanded. (I speak from experience here, of course. I go through assistants like plastic forks.)

NBC stood by for a decade while Donald Trump did and said whatever he wanted. They let him get away with it because he made them a lot of money. Now they want us to believe they had no idea what sort of creep he is. They want us to think they’re shocked — shocked! — at his behavior.

They’re calling him out now for the same reason they didn’t call him out then: Ratings.

I’m not denying that Trump is exactly the sort of guy we all know he is. And I’m not saying NBC shouldn’t cover it. But spare us the pearl-clutching. And stop blaming hapless flunkies like Billy Bush for doing exactly what you hired them to do.

*Not the Stephen Miller who works for Trump. Two different Stephen Millers. I apologize for any confusion.

P.S. I believe these stories. I also believe that the executives at NBC knew about them.