Today Show

In Touch (USA) - - Crisis news -

“Billy has brought noth­ing but drama.” Fans also re­volted, call­ing him “a pig” and even start­ing a pe­ti­tion to get him fired .

Next thing Billy knew, he was out. On Oct. 9, NBC an­nounced it had sus­pended him “pend­ing fur­ther re­view.” But that was only after a failed at­tempt to bury the story. Al­though a rep for NBC, which pro­duces both Ac­cess and Today, claimed the net­work was aware of the tape and even planned to re­lease a story about it be­fore it was scooped, In Touch has learned that’s a dis­tor­tion — and that Ac­cess’ ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer, Rob Sil­ver­stein, wanted it cov­ered up to pro­tect Billy. “The tape sat on Rob’s desk for over a week. Rob is Billy’s BFF,” says the net­work in­sider. When Ac­cess did end up run­ning a story about the tape — only be­cause The Wash­ing­ton Post broke the news — they edited it to leave out some of Billy’s dis­gust­ing state­ments, in­clud­ing, “Sheesh, your girl’s hot as s---!” about Arianne. Again, in­sid­ers tell In Touch it was Rob pro­tect­ing his pal while pur­pose­fully in­ac­cu­rately re­port­ing one of the big­gest sto­ries of the year.

Billy apol­o­gized, blam­ing im­ma­tu­rity (he was 33 at the time). But sources say this wasn’t iso­lated be­hav­ior. His for­mer Ac­cess co-an­chor Shaun Robin­son de­scribed their work­place as hav­ing a “boys’ club” cul­ture. “Billy would make com­ments about women’s bod­ies in front of other staffers,” says an Ac­cess source. “He’d get very flirty and be overtly sex­ual; it was un­com­fort­able.” Nancy left the toxic en­vi­ron­ment in 2009 “be­cause of the frat boy at­mos­phere be­tween Billy and Rob,” says the net­work in­sider. And with Rob in a po­si­tion of power, says a sec­ond Ac­cess source, “No one was call­ing them out on this be­hav­ior.”

They are now. “Both Billy and Rob are fac­ing the ax,” says the net­work in­sider. “A lot of fans, staff and hosts on Today don’t ever want to see Billy as part of the show again. This was the fi­nal nail in his cof­fin.” ◼

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