Billy Bush may have gone on CBS’ Late Show With Stephen Colbert to combat President Trump’s recent denial of the Access Hollywood tapes, but eventually, the conversation shifted to his former Today co-host.
Bush didn’t address the allegations against Lauer, who was fired Nov. 29 for “inappropriate sexual behavior” at work and has been accused by as many as six female staffers. But Bush did discuss the senior anchor’s role in his own firing from NBC News, after the former Access Hollywood host was caught in a 2005 recording egging on Donald Trump as the future president boasted about sexual assault.
“You worked on the Today Show,” Colbert told his guest, who was making his first late-night appearance in over a year. “Matt Lauer controlled that show. He could have protected anybody and he did famously protect people from being fired from that show. Do you wish he would have protected you?”
Bush revealed that Lauer had indeed tried.
“We had a conversation about that and he told me that he went privately to the bosses and took that line,” he recalled. “I said that I appreciated it and thanked him.”
Bush wasn’t sure if even Lauer could have saved him at the time, though things have changed a little since.
“It was a difficult time,” he said, reminding the audience of the political climate 14 months ago. “I think it was very hot emotionally. A lot of people were not comfortable with the man who was close to winning the election and a lot of things happened. But my boss, said publicly months later, ‘I think we may have moved a little quickly.”
He said his only regret was that he didn’t get the chance to address the Today audience publicly before leaving the show.
Given that opportunity by Colbert, Bush expressed concern that the necessary dialogue won’t happen because “we get on to the next thing, we get on to our phones, the next outrage comes. We have to continue it all the way through, and I hope we do that.”
Colbert noted that the moment of reckoning began with Harvey Weinstein (whose own alleged history of sexual misconduct was made public Oct. 5, almost exactly a year after the Access Hollywood tape leak) and hasn’t stopped.
“The (Access Hollywood) bus was the tip of the iceberg,” Bush said.
If you have ever experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct while working in the…