In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published on Sunday, Billy Bush finally broke his silence about the now-infamous “Access Hollywood” tape in which Donald Trump bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy.”
The former Today Show host talked about what it was like for him, his family and his career after the tape leaked in October 2016. One of the most difficult parts of the experience, he said, was explaining his own lewd comments to his three daughters, who were 12, 15 and 18 at the time.
In the “Access Hollywood” video, which was taped in 2005, Bush can be heard laughing along to Trump’s sexist jokes. He appeared to encourage Trump, yelling “Yes! The Donald has scored!” after Trump recounted a time he “moved on [a woman] like a bitch.” Bush also referred to Arianne Zucker, the woman they were meeting for an interview, saying “Sheesh your girl’s hot as shit.”
Bush told THR that his youngest daughter decided not to watch the tape and his oldest was ready to defend her father. But Bush said it was his middle daughter who called him out for his sexist and demeaning comments about women.
Bush told THR that his daughter Mary, then 15, called him crying and asked, “Why were you laughing at the things that [Trump] was saying on that bus, Dad? They weren’t funny.”
“It hit really hard, and I stopped for a second, and I said, ‘I have no answer for that that’s any good. I am really sorry. That was Dad in a bad moment a long time ago. You know me. I am really sorry that you had to hear and see that. I love you,’” Bush told THR. “She needed to hear that, and I certainly needed to tell her that.”
Bush explained that in the aftermath of the “Access Hollywood” video he really put himself in women’s shoes and realized just how damaging his behavior was.
“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?’” Bush said. “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.”
Off the bat, Bush sounds like a great dad who immediately owned up to his bad behavior when his young daughter called him out on it. And he most likely is a wonderful father.
His response also points to a larger, more troubling trend: Men are often not confronted with the implications of their behavior ― that women are sex objects to be “moved on like a bitch” ― until they’ve raised daughters.
When Bush’s daughter addressed his demeaning comments about women, he didn’t have a good answer for her. How can he tell her that this is how many men speak about women, when he hopes no man ever speaks about his daughter in the same way?
While Bush’s comments to his daughter are important, we shouldn’t have to wait for men to bear daughters for them to see half the population as equals.