The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Billy Bush will return to TV more than 2 years after Trump tape scandal

Billy Bush, then a host of "Access Hollywood," accompanies Donald Trump and actress Arianne Zucker in this image from a 2005 video. (Obtained by The Washington Post)
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He’s baaaack.

After being banished from family-friendly morning TV following the release of the now-infamous “Access Hollywood tape” during the 2016 presidential campaign, the TV personality is returning to the small screen.

Bush, who was the host of entertainment news magazine “Access Hollywood” for 15 years, is set to spearhead a revamped “Extra Extra” starting in the fall.

“We all have to be able to evolve as we grow,” Bush said in an interview with People published Wednesday. “The guy that left the scene in 2016 was already a changed person, but I had the opportunity to grow up a little bit. Facing adversity in some way is good. And I feel I’ll be better at my job than I ever was. This is my next step.”

Adversity might be an understatement.

In 2016, just a year into a huge promotion from “Access Hollywood” to the morning show behemoth “Today,” The Washington Post published a tape from 2005 that featured Donald Trump, then the star of NBC’s “Apprentice,” making vulgar remarks about women to Bush on a hot mic, who had been interviewing the reality star.

“When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” Trump said on the tape, before adding, “Grab them by the p‐‐‐y.” Bush laughed throughout the exchange.

Less than two weeks later, Bush was out at “Today.” The following month, Trump was elected president of the United States.

“I own the moment,” Bush told People. “It was a bad moment. And I was in it. But one moment doesn’t define your life.”

Since his ouster from TV, Bush has maintained a relatively low profile. He and his wife Sydney separated in 2017. Later that year, Bush seemed to launch an image rehabilitation campaign that included a New York Times op-ed reflecting on the tape in the Me Too era and an appearance on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”

“A good wallop on the side of the head makes you, changes you,” Bush told People, “and I’m a better version of the man I was.”