Billy Bush's Coworkers Defend Him as His Future at 'Today' Remains Uncertain

by Jackie Willis 11:45 AM PDT, October 11, 2016
Playing Billy Bush's Coworkers Defend Him as His Future at 'Today' Remains Uncertain

While Billy Bush's future on the Today show seems to be hanging in the balance, a few of his coworkers are still in his corner.

The 44-year-old TV personality was suspended from the morning show after a tape was released from 2005, when Bush was 33 years old and a co-host at Access Hollywood, of him laughing and joking with Donald Trump, who is heard making lewd comments about women while on the TV show's bus.

"NBC News did not know about [the tape] until last week," a source close to the situation tells ET. "There are people at Today who support Billy."

Several of Bush's former female co-hosts have already spoken out in defense of him. Kit Hoover -- who hosted Access Hollywood Live with Bush from 2010 to this year, when he left to co-anchor Today -- broke down while talking to her new co-host, Natalie Morales, about the scandal.

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"I don’t even know where to begin with all of this,” Hoover said. “The tapes are inexcusable. But I’m watching this tape and I’m watching this person — those tapes were a decade ago and it was seven minutes of someone’s life. And all I can tell you is what I know and the person that I sat next to for the last six years, and that person for me is a totally different person.”

"He always treated me with kindness, such respect. He treated me like an equal from day one,” she continued. “And I think anybody that watched our show at home and saw us together knew how much he rooted for me, and [was] really always in my corner, and there’s really a teamwork with both of us out there."

Morales, who left Today to take over for Bush on Access Hollywood Live, also referred to him as a "good friend" and recalled that he was one of the first people to call and congratulate her on landing the AHL job and relocating from New York to Los Angeles.

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Parenthood star Monica Potter was a guest on Monday's program, and added that she was "supporting [Bush] as well."

Shaun Robinson worked with Bush for 14 years on Access Hollywood and said that she doesn't feel that firing him over the 2005 recording is warranted. "He shouldn’t lose his job for being the type of person that got him the job," Robinson explained to The Washington Post, adding that the show had a "boys' club" culture in the workplace and that women would "look the other way because they're just so happy to be at the party."

"There were people on that bus who were in management positions, and if they considered that language to be offensive, they would have said, 'Don't say that,'" Robinson continued. "And I don't think that was said."

In addition to his TV co-hosts, Janet Elliott, who co-hosted with Bush for five years on D.C.’s Z104 radio, was also compassionate when speaking about her former coworker. “He always let people shine in their own way, whether it was an intern or a musical guest,” Elliott told The Post. “He was definitely on the entertainment side of things, always.”

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Meanwhile, a source told ET on Monday that the Today staff was "comfortable with how the situation is being handled" in regard to Bush's suspension. "Billy has a good relationship with each of the anchors and hosts," the source added. "Let's not forget Billy has been a part of the NBC family for a long time and they have all known him."

Bush apologized in a statement to ET over the weekend for the 2005 tape. "Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened 11 years ago," he said. "I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry."

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Reporting by Amy Purnell.