Donald Trump and Billy Bush’s leaked inflammatory comments about an unidentified woman continue to draw sharp criticism online with many calling on NBC to fire the newly-appointed “Today” show personality.
“@NBC FIRE BILLY BUSH,” Rose McGowan tweeted Friday evening.
A petition urging the network to “fire Billy Bush for his sexist language with Donald Trump” has also surfaced on Change.org.
“Whether this conversation took place 10 years ago, or 10 minutes ago, the kind of person who would engage another with this kind of language has NO place on television,” the petition reads. “Billy Bush should be ashamed of himself; NBC and The Today Show should be ashamed of Billy Bush and must separate from him immediately.”
Bush has since addressed his shocking comments in a statement issued to The Hollywood Reporter, insisting that he has matured since making the comments ten years ago. “Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed,” he said. “It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago – I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”
NBC has suspended Billy Bush “pending further review” from the “Today” show according to an internal memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
In a note sent Sunday evening to NBC staffers, Senior VP Noah Oppenheim wrote:
Dear TODAY Family —
I know we’ve all been deeply troubled by the revelations of the past 48 hours.
Let me be clear — there is simply no excuse for Billy’s language and behaviour on that tape. NBC has decided to suspend Billy, pending further review of this matter.
If any of you have any questions or concerns please reach out to me directly, anytime day or night.
Bush was slated to take his seat during Monday’s 9 a.m. hour where he was expected to apologize for his controversial comments, NBC executives confirmed earlier on Sunday. But backlash over the announcement was seemingly loud enough for them to overturn their decision a few hours later.
“The plan is for him to have a chance to apologize,” a source told The Hollywood Reporter.
According to THR, “Today” show executives were hoping that an apology from Bush would help him recover from the scandal.
Once NBC executives and Access Hollywood learned of the tape, they “immediately decided it was newsworthy. There was never any question that we need to protect Billy or that it would see air,” the source added.
“NBC News did exactly what you would expect from a great news organization,” said an NBC spokesperson. “As soon as we saw the tape and made the assessment it was undoubtedly newsworthy, we moved quickly and deliberately to get it published and to do so in the most responsible way.”
Bush began anchoring the 9 a.m. hour of the morning show during the Rio games. He quickly drew criticism in the role for failing to confront defamed swimming star Ryan Lochte.