Billy Bush only joined NBC's Today a few months ago, with the network hoping he would lift the show's ratings slump, but his impact on the morning staple has been anything but positive recently. Bush has been at the center of a controversy concerning some derogatory comments made by presidential candidate Donald Trump surrounding an Access Hollywood interview he was giving to Bush at the time, and now the effects have been made final. Today and Bush have officially parted ways.
Billy Bush wasn't thrown out on his backside or anything, and his exit was made public after a reportedly lucrative settlement was made to balance the $3.5 million-a-year deal Bush signed with Today a few months ago. There apparently weren't a lot of hot heads involved in the decision, which went along amicably enough, and according to THR, the network didn't even add a non-compete clause into the settlement, so Bush is allowed to take a job anywhere else that offers him something. It remains to be seen how quickly such offers will come in.
The announcement was made internally through NBC via a memo from Today exec Noah Oppenheim, in which it was stated that while Bush was new to this particular venture, he was "a valued colleague and longtime member of the broader NBC family." After the anchor was suspended in the wake of the Access Hollywood video's leak, Bush's supporters and legal team claimed he was being unfairly punished for Donald Trump's incendiary words. Neither Oppenheim's statement nor Bush's (which was geared more towards the support he's received) hinted at negative undercurrents, but then that's to be expected.
No plans were announced as far as how Billy Bush will be replaced on a permanent basis. It was only some hours ago that NBC gave Harry Connick Jr. the opportunity to fill in for Bush during some days of his suspension. Perhaps the network will extend Connick Jr.'s offer for a more regular gig, or maybe they're already looking around elsewhere for someone to take over full-time. Expect more announcements soon.
The video in question, taken in 2005, has only created bigger headlines since it was brought to the public eye by the Washington Post, and Donald Trump's comments inspired several women to come forward with allegations of past sexual misconduct involving the Republican candidate, who has denied all instances of wrongdoing. As well, talks have sprouted about Trump's behavior behind the scenes of NBC's Celebrity Apprentice, and the possibility of more footage surfacing in the future.
Today will understandably be washing its hands of the entire affair as the weeks go by, and you can find it every morning on NBC, the same network where you'll see Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live.