Billy Bush Apologizes For Trump Talk — Is It Enough?


Here’s the thing about Billy Bush. We never knew much about his personality. He was on some breezy shows with superficial content, which did not require much of his own input. Much like Ryan Seacrest, his job was to move things along in a seamless fashion, and to provide celebrities with an easy forum to promote their content. So when a clip between Billy Bush and Donald Trump gave us a window into Bush’s personality for the first time, he was sunk. There simply wasn’t enough data for push up against this man’s new image, and without that, there’s little to no hope of a career cleanse. Many have pointed out that Donald Trump became President and Billy Bush became unemployed, but I’d need a much longer post to explain how Trump got elected. For now, let’s stick to Billy.


In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bush is clear about his regret, and he blames his inability to change the subject with Trump to not having the necessary “strength of character.” He claims that the experience left him “gutted” and that he’s done an extensive amount of soul searching in its wake, which includes time with Tony Robbins and a spiritual retreat. He also reminds us that he’s raising three daughters whom he had to answer to, saying:

I’ve come out of this with a deeper understanding of how women can connect to the feeling of having to fight extra hard for an even playing field. The ground isn’t even. Maybe it’s improving, but still it isn’t even. When a woman watches that tape — and this is what really hit me — they may be asking themselves, “Is that what happens when I walk out of a room? When I walk out of a meeting, is that what they’re saying about me? Are they sizing me up?” I can’t live with that. If a moment like that arose again, I would shut it down quickly. I am in the women-raising business, exclusively. I have three daughters — Mary, Lillie, Josie — and I care very much about the world and the people they encounter.


So should we forgive Billy Bush, and is this enough? Though it might be a controversial claim, I like this version of Bush a little better. For starters, I am fundamentally put off by press robots with no personality, and seeing a man at his knees, begging for forgiveness, is good enough to take him out of that space. I believe he’s contrite, and if it took losing a job to do that — then fine. A man’s livelihood is often tied to his job, and even though Billy Bush walked away from all of this a very rich man, he also walked away unemployed. I also believe him when he likens the conversation in question to Andrew Dice Clay. He likely thought Trump was being outrageous for shock value, rather than an actual account of how he physically and literally “grabs women by the pussy.” According to Bush, “if [he] had thought for a minute that there was a grown man detailing his sexual assault strategy to [him], [he’d] have called the FBI.” The issue; however, will always lie in Bush encouraging the host to physically hug Trump AFTER Trump made those comments. That moves his participation from passive to active, which is the key problem. I’d guess Bush knows that, and he does not need me to remind him.


Though even in my very young days, I’ve never let a bully win, and I’ve never let my desire to be liked overpower my integrity, I’ve certainly been guilty of saying and doing things of which I’m not proud, and the only thing that has caused substantial character growth is age, experience, and tongue-lashings of my more evolved peers. Fortunately, you’ll never know about those character digressions because I’m not a public figure, and because my peers are a select group of people I trust, not the entire world. I think Billy Bush has had enough. If all our issues left us permanently unemployed, the economy would tank.

In Defense of Billy Bush

The rise of social media has brought justice upon individuals that would otherwise go unpunished, but it has also brought unjust punishment to those who would ordinarily get a slap on the wrist. When Billy Bush engaged in “locker room” talk with Donald Trump, who led a conversation about how his advances toward the then-married Nancy O’Dell went unrequited, and how he attempts to kiss women whether they like it or not, the public viewed Bush as complicit. He should have spoken up. He should have said, “Donald, don’t talk that way. That’s uncalled for, and I won’t tolerate it. Women deserve to be respected, and you should not hit on married women.” Most importantly, he should not have laughed.

The entire event reminded me of a recent lunch I experienced with a friend of a friend, who made a comment I deemed racist. I did speak up. I said it wasn’t cool, and I wouldn’t tolerate it in my presence. The conversation quickly came to a halt, and things got awkward. Those who know me are well aware I am not afraid of confrontation. I am not easily intimidated by authority, and there’s no amount of money, fame, or recognition you can offer that would make me sacrifice my integrity. But I am a rare breed. Most people do not want confrontation. Most people can remember those “locker room” moments where they don’t want to be the odd man out, and they participate in deplorable behavior even though it does not reflect their character. They vow to be better people the next time around, and they feel silently ashamed.

I don’t know Billy Bush. Perhaps he is a misogynist. Perhaps he does not respect women. Perhaps he is personally friends with Donald Trump and agreed with his off-color, offensive comments. But to repeat my original point, I don’t know him, and neither do you. We all make mistakes in the workplace and don’t get fired for them. We all do things of which we’re ashamed and silently correct them without the world watching. And if the world wasn’t watching, would Billy Bush be suspended? Or would he simply be privately admonished? Before you judge him, take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself whether you too would like to be forgiven for your own mistakes.