“It is weird that he kept his job and you lost yours,” said Maher. At the time of the 2005 taping, Bush was a correspondent on NBC’s “Access Hollywood,” though in 2016 he’d gain a promotion to the team of the “Today” show. He lost that job in October 2016, after The Post published Trump’s “grab ’em by the … ” remarks.
On the fateful tape, Bush plays along with Trump’s misogynistic banter. Months and months after the tape’s revelation, however, Maher positioned him as the victim of a falling brick. “Life is random. Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people,” said Maher. Good thing that “Real Time” loaded the panel with Nayyera Haq, a former State Department official who spoke of the need for “social courage” to speak out in situations such as the Bush-Trump moment.
Social courage, or journalistic courage, apparently wasn’t in Bush’s portfolio in those days. As he told Maher, he “spent a lot of time” with Trump in the mid-2000s, when Trump was doing his reality-TV thing on NBC’s “The Apprentice.” “I was the entertainment correspondent for NBC … he was the cash cow, he was pulling 20 million viewers a week or something, so I’m with him two-three times a week,” said Bush.
“So you had to kiss his ass,” said Maher.
And then Bush responded with an informal definition of access journalism: “Sort of. You sort of meet them where they are. Or you can interrupt him and then — you know how volatile he is, right? So he’ll be like, ‘I hate Billy Bush. He’s done, moving on: “Entertainment Tonight” only. Forget Billy Bush.’ And then I have to explain why I lost Trump, the big fish.”