According to a report published Tuesday by People Magazine, executives at NBC intended to spare Today co-host Billy Bush by editing him out of the Access Hollywood video that captured Donald Trump using vulgar language and appearing to brag about sexual assault.
“That was the plan,” an NBC source told the magazine, describing internal efforts to protect Bush by removing him from the final edit of the story. “They were trying to approve it and then someone leaked it.”
NBCU news group svp of communications Mark Kornblau called People’s report “100 percent false”:
— Mark Kornblau (@MarkKornblau) October 11, 2016
The leak, described by the source as both “purposeful” and “not a low-level leak” led NBC to be scooped on the story—which they had held for several days—by The Washington Post.
Bush, who is heard playing along with Trump’s comments—even as Trump uses crude language at the expense of Bush’s then co-host Nancy O’Dell, has been suspended indefinitely by NBC from his role at Today. “People are saying he can’t recover,” the source told People.
In its first story on the incident last Friday Access Hollywood did leave out Bush’s comments from the tape.
UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter has published a story saying NBC is negotiating Bush’s exit from the network.