Ex-“TODAY” Show host Billy Bush‘s redemption tour is off to a wildly successful start.
But it all depends on who you ask.
In an interview with The Mirror, Beverly Hills brand expert Eric Schiffer — CEO of ReputationManagementConsultants.com — who says Bush will be back on the top of his TV game within two years.
NBC gave Bush the ax last year for his participation in the crude interview with Donald Trump 11 years ago on an Access Hollywood bus. After laying low for seven months, Bush began his apology tour this week beginning with a story in The Hollywood Reporter. He appeared on ABC’s “GMA” Wednesday morning in an expansive interview with Robin Roberts.
Schiffer assessed how Bush is doing with his comeback.
It’s mostly positive.
“He kind of took some shots at Donald,” Schiffer said in a phone interview. “He certainly didn’t try to protect the president. This is a consistent pattern in Washington. Playing the game and then flipping to guard reputation.”
Schiffer said he would have advised Bush not to blame Trump.
“I do think there is a certain degree of needing to ingratiate yourself,” he said. “That’s just a common thing. But own it. Take responsibility. He participated. He made that choice to say those things, disgusting as it may have been. But I see this pattern where people play the game but defend their reputation. The moment something happens, they attack.”
Schiffer says attacking Trump is the dead wrong approach.
“I think it takes away from the accepting of responsibility, and for some fans of the president, it’s not going to endear him,” he said. “It was somewhat of a political move to endear himself to the female audience that is largely liberal.”
As for Bush walking on fiery coals with life coach Tony Robbins, Schiffer cracked, “I’m not sure Tony Robbins is the best way to cleanse your soul. I know Tony from way back and I have not been to one of those things. A lot of people get helped by him.”
About six months ago, the expert appeared on Entertainment Tonight to dish about Bush.
“I said he needed to stay dark for six months,” he said. “I said he needed to come clean and own it and show regret and show what he’s learned from it and become an advocate and protector of women and commit himself in that regard. It seems that he’s moving in that direction.”
Schiffer says he’s become something of a feminist from dating Dr. Jenn, his psychotherapist girlfriend who hosts VH1’s Couples Therapy. He analyzes Bush’s situation in much the same way as he would a political candidate. But with a feminist twist.
“I think this has been a wakeup call for him,” he said of Bush. “What he forgot is he didn’t know his base. He didn’t realize that his base is largely women. Women, especially liberal women, who are watchers, were not fans of Donald Trump. They thought he was going to take them back to a prior century. They saw Bush as an extension of Trump. He alienated his base. So there was a misreading of the political base by Bush.”
Still, he says, Hollywood likes him.
“I’ll tell you, on a core level, he’s liked in Hollywood,” he said. “I’ve met him. He’s a nice guy in person. He can build his way back in. His talent will get him back into a starring role again but it can take years. We see it happening with Brian Williams. Brand management in these scenarios is ensuring you don’t hurt yourself further and by owning it, it rebuilds credibility. As long as he stays consistent with that, he’ll regain credibility. His talent is strong. I predict within two years he’ll be back on TV either a host or co-host on a nationally syndicated show.”
Should he go on Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday”? “Yes…he should go on Oprah,” he said. “[He should take] any opportunity to be vulnerable.”
How about Dr. Phil? “I think Dr. Phil could be good too,” he said. “Dr. Phil will like the fact that he owned it. It shows he is committed.”
Does he believe the incident was really personally hard on Bush?
“It became a mortal horror for him,” he said. “Yes to a large degree because it was so painful. I think he’s got a sense of morality. I think he was just being a guy and took it way too far and was disgusting. He didn’t want to alienate him [Trump]. He didn’t realize the implications and how much women really were the ones that rose him to the top. He became king of syndicated TV because of women and he punched women in the gut by making those statements.”
Schiffer, who has provided reputation advice to politicians in Washington as well as other high net worth people for the past seven years, predicts Bush’s “scandalabra” will resolve itself in the long run.
For the sake of Billy Bush fans everywhere, let’s hope he’s right.