Billy Bush Hires PR Crisis Management Company Amid 'Today' Show Fallout
By Raphael Chestang
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Billy Bush's 45th birthday on Thursday might be a bittersweet celebration for the suspended Today show co-host, as the future of his career is still uncertain following last Friday's release of the controversial 2005 recording in which Bush can be heard laughing along as Donald Trump makes disparaging comments about women.
ET has confirmed that Bush has hired a public relations crisis management company to help him handle the continued fallout from the video.
Despite Bush's indefinite suspension handed down by NBC on Oct. 9 and his rumored imminent firing, Bush's image is still on Today's Twitter page. Still, there are reports that Bush is negotiating his exit from the network, with Page Six reporting that he might sue NBC over his rumored termination.
Whoopi Goldberg talked about Bush's situation on Wednesday's The View, pointing out that Bush has worked for NBC for 15 years.
"He says the network never had a problem acting this way before," Goldberg said. "He's been there for a long time for them to go, 'Poof! You're out.'"
The Hill columnist, Joe Concha, told ET he expects Bush will be thinking ahead as opposed to going after the short-term money.
"Life is all about leverage and Billy Bush certainly has it right now," Concha said. "So if this is part of his negotiations as his exit strategy to get more money out of NBC, great, but I think Billy Bush is more concerned about his career prospects going forward given what this tape does to his reputation."
After the footage was released of Trump making lewd remarks to Bush about women and his failed attempt at trying to seduce Entertainment Tonight host Nancy O'Dell, who was Bush's Access Hollywood co-host at the time, Bush issued an apology, telling ET, "Obviously I'm embarrassed and ashamed. It's no excuse, but this happened 11 years ago -- I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I'm very sorry."
Several of Bush's former female co-workers have come out in his defense, including Kit Hoover, who hosted Access Hollywood Live with Bush.
"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," Hoover said. "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."
Meanwhile, O'Dell addressed the tape, advocating for young girls to know it's their hard work and their heart that is "most important."
"The conversation has got to change because everybody deserves respect, no matter the gender or setting," O'Dell said. "And as a mom, I have to add that our kids, especially our young girls, need to know that their hard work, their achievements, their intelligence, their heart are most important, and those things will not go unnoticed."
"There is no room for objectification of women, or anyone for that matter, not even in the 'locker room,'" she added, referring to Trump's comments that his conversation with Bush was "locker room talk."