Billy Bush is done, gone, outta here. Once the 2005 video surfaced of him giggling like a hyena while Donald Trump bragged about groping women, Bush was damaged goods at NBC’s “Today.”
This week when the boot came, no one was surprised. So this must mean Bush’s career as a TV host is over, right?
No way. This, my friends, is America, where all lives have second acts and every scandal-plagued celebrity gets … well, at least a reality show. (Bush already got a reported settlement from NBC for $10 million, although his lawyer said that figure is inaccurate.)
Billy isn’t gone. You don’t have to be a Billy partisan to know that America’s favorite braying frat-boy presenter (“Whoa, my man!,” he hooted as he and Trump ogled an actress) will be back, maybe bigger than ever.
How do we know this? Because history tells us.
Here are five indisputable and surprisingly optimistic facts about Bush’s current situation
1. This election will soon be over
Let’s step back a minute for some context. Were it not for the insane hothouse of the 2016 election, do you think we would spend one second fretting about how Bush and Trump behaved badly a bus years ago? Nope. Billygate exploded because of the presidential candidacy of Trump and the intense emotions it has stirred, pro and con. Bush has become a political football, as was proved again this week when Melania Trump accused him in a CNN interview of “egging on” her husband for “boy talk.” Hard as it may be to believe now, in less than one month this campaign will be over. And so will the worst part of the scandal for Bush.
2. The inevitable reversal
Remember our friend Ken Bone? Everyone loved the cuddly, red-sweatered interrogator with the funny name from the second presidential debate. Until old Reddit posts surfaced where he called pregnant women “beautiful human submarines” (er, what?) and talked about how much he enjoyed seeing hacked nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence. Suddenly this Bone guy was a creep. No sooner had that happened, though, than defenders began to materialize to say no, we were right all along, Bone’s a great guy. That’s celebrity in microcosm. People push you up, people push you down. Love/hate. The flaws don’t make the hero unpalatable; they just make him relatable. This familiar dynamic will come along for Bush too. Indeed, many have already asked, how come Billy loses his job and Donald still gets to run for president?
3. TV is big; hosts scarce
We live, you may have heard, in an era of “peak TV.” Which is a fancy way of saying that just about anyone who really wants a show can get one, if they’re not overly choosy about where. You’re going to tell me that a programmer of some stripe isn’t going to want to make use of a host with big-network experience who can do live shots and knows how to fill air time with banter (hopefully of the less offensive type than he engaged in with Trump)? No matter what many viewers think, TV hosting is not something that anyone can pull off. People who can do it day in, day out are relatively rare, even among professional performers. And that means that someone with Bush’s resume is likely to never be out of work for long.
4. People have short memories
Still not convinced Billy can come back, eh? Then consider the case of Marv Albert. The NBC sportscaster was accused of sexual assault in 1997 by a woman and given a 12-month suspended sentence for assault and battery. Albert was engulfed in scandal, became a tabloid disgrace. The network fired him. And that was it. Albert’s 20-year career at the network vanished in an instant. And it never came back … until NBC rehired him two years later. True, these are different times. But if Albert’s reputation can be salvaged, surely there’s hope for Billy Bush, who hasn’t even been accused of anything that could land him near a courthouse door.
5. Trump TV?
A Financial Times report this week said that Trump’s son-in-law is exploring the possibility of a Trump TV network if the GOP hopeful fails to make it to the White House. Such a channel might make a fitting home for an unshackled Billy Bush. And what if the budding media mogul and his new host carved out some time for more “boy talk,” this time with not just a hot mic but cameras running? Whoa, my man! That could be a ratings killer.