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We Don't Forgive Billy Bush for Failing to Speak Up About Trump's Character

We Don't Forgive Billy Bush for Failing to Speak Up About Trump's Character

Billy Bush

Bush is sorry he was fired from Today but not sorry he was silent about Trump when it mattered.

Since Billy Bush first remained silent following the revelation of the "I grab them by the pussy" Access Hollywoodtape in which then-presidential nominee Donald Trump admitted to sexual assault while Bush encouraged him, the nephew of George H.W. Bush, has walked on coals with Tony Robbins, relaxed at a healing retreat in Napa, practiced yoga, and developed a boxing routine, according to his first interview since the event, a puff piece on his reemergence in The Hollywood Reporter. While immigrants, trans kids, and women have suffered under Trump's executive orders, Bush, now 45, has taken the eight months since he was fired from Today after the discovery of the tape to reflect and soul-search, according to THR. Meanwhile, those who are not privileged straight white men with money have been fighting for their lives against Trump and his ideologue of a sidekick Mike Pence.

The 11-year-old Access Hollywood tape of Bush on a bus with Trump, who was at the time a reality star on The Apprentice, dissecting and objectifying women as if they were cattle at the state fair, when viral last October, just about a month before the election.

"Looking back upon what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic. [Trump] liked TV and competition. I could've said, 'Can you believe the ratings on whatever?'" Bush told THR. "But I didn't have the strength of character to do it."

Bush continued to prostrate himself in his THR interview over what he could have said or stopped on the bus during which Trump said, "I'm automatically attracted to beautiful [women]-- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything. ... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

But Bush never apologized for failing to speak to Trump's character just a month prior to the election when it could have mattered. In the TRH interview, he blamed his silence about the event on the fact that he was axed from Today before he had an opportunity to address the audience and apologize. But Bush also told THR that reporters were clamoring at his doorstep in the days/week after the release of the Access Hollywood tape, and yet he never took the opportunity to speak to them about the type of man that Trump is, which says everything anyone needs to know about Bush's character.

Bush expressed in the interview the regret he felt when he was forced to explain to his tearful 15-year-old daughter why he laughed at a man who bragged about sexual assault. Still, Bush remained complicit with Trump, who days after the inauguration signed an executive order banning U.S. aid to overseas nongovernmental organizations that provide or advise on abortions, and in April (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) rolled back President Obama-era protections for women in the workplace that shielded women against the gender pay gap and harassment.

Friends of Bush's bemoaned his firing from Today to THR. "He got lumped up with Donald Trump, and his last name is Bush, and all of a sudden he got bushwhacked," said Bush's friend Howard Owens, a TV producer and co-CEO of Propagate Content. "And not to say that he didn't think what came out was terrible and certainly would have been something he would have had to deal with to regain the respect of his audience, but to never get that chance and to go down in a tidal wave of political anger is a tough thing."

Bush may have lost his job over the messy "locker-room talk," the label Trump put on his admission of having sexually assaulting women, but he didn't lose his family as some immigrants have since Trump took office and signed the draconian Muslim travel ban. And Bush's right to feel safe in a restroom at school wasn't ripped from him like when Trump revoked Obama-era guidelines protecting trans kids.

It's eight months later, and Bush has soul-searched at various retreats with the best that his money can buy. While marginalized people suffered under Trump, he still refused to speak to Trump's character, preferring to say that Trump's admissions on the Access Hollywood tape were all part of his performance as someone who likes to shock others. And Bush is right -- admitting to having sexually assaulted women is shocking, and so is laughing at it and failing to speak out at a time when it actually mattered.

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Tracy E. Gilchrist