Mutiny on th
Billy Bush’s colleagues refused to work with him as his bosses failed in a cover-up attempt. The real story behind the tape scandal
Billy Bush was egging him on. As Donald Trump boasted about hitting on a married star — later revealed to be TV host Nancy O’dell — then described in vulgar terms how he felt entitled to grope (or assault) women, the Access Hollywood turned Today show host chuckled and added his own sexist commentary while they rode a bus to the Days of Our Lives set. Seconds later, the pair cordially greeted actress Arianne Zucker, seemingly con- vinced that no one would ever know that they had just been crudely objectifying her and other women.
They were wrong. Donald and Billy’s 2005 lewd exchange — caught on an Access hot mic — was leaked to The Washington Post on Oct. 7. Hours later, Today’s female staffers launched a mutiny, demanding Billy be fired, In Touch has exclusively learned. “As disgusting as Donald’s comments were, Billy’s goading and laughing is equally offensive,” says a network insider. “Billy’s encour- aging the actress to hug Donald is beyond words. The mostly female Today staff and even top producers told bosses they would refuse to work when Billy was on set.”
His co-hosts were outraged as well. Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Tamron Hall threatened to walk out if Billy, 44, “was simply allowed to return to work with no discipline or investigation,” says the network insider, adding that since replacing Willie Geist in the show’s third hour in August,