Billy Bush accused NBC on Thursday of having “sacrificed” him in 2016 when he was fired over the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape of Donald Trump making crude remarks about women.
Calling it the five-year anniversary of the “worst day of my life,” Bush railed against his former network in an Instagram post. NBC dismissed him from a hosting gig on “Today” shortly after the 2005 tape came to light, where Bush could be heard laughing as Trump boasted on a hot mic that he could kiss and grope women because he was famous.
“Today is the 5 year anniversary of the worst day of my life,” Bush wrote. “[T]he family that raised me professionally sacrificed me in an instant for their own political gain. Let’s be real. Ultimately, they lost because HE somehow won. I barely survived the cascade of anxiety and despair. It lasted years. I am stronger because of it today, a better more empathetic guy I hope.”
Bush added he frequently takes calls from people in need of advice and memorialized his late father Jonathan, who died in May. Bush is the nephew of former President George H. W. Bush and cousin of President George W. Bush.
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“I know the heart ache took an awful toll on him. He is in heaven. I always stop on this day to feel it,” Bush wrote.
A pariah after his firing, he was hired as the host of the entertainment program “Extra” in 2019, saying at the time he had “changed.” He has repeatedly apologized for his role in the tape.
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“I definitely added to the conversation,” Bush said in a 2017 “Good Morning America” interview. “I look back, and I wish I had stopped it. But I didn’t have the strength of character at the time.”
At the time of Trump’s lewd remarks, Bush was 33 and the anchor of “Access Hollywood,” while Trump was best known as a billionaire real estate mogul and the host of NBC’s “The Apprentice.”
NBC enjoyed a lucrative relationship with Trump for years through “The Apprentice” and its spinoff “Celebrity Apprentice.” CNN President Jeff Zucker, now one of Trump’s chief media antagonists, dreamed up the reality program that propelled Trump into superstardom.
The tape’s release on Oct. 7, 2016, weeks before the election, was considered an “October surprise” and provoked a public apology from Trump. Many prognosticators considered it the final nail in his political coffin and would ensure Hillary Clinton’s victory, and some Republicans even urged him to drop out of the race.
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Trump remained in, however, debating Clinton that same week and calling his remarks on the tape “locker room talk.” He went on to defeat her in November.