Billy Bush, a recognised TV personality in the US suddenly found international notoriety seven months ago when a tape of a Hollywood Access conversation between him and the then presidential candidate Donald Trump was leaked to the press. The repercussions were dire and the entertainment personality found himself a leper of the industry in no time.
Ironically, the tape did little to affect Trump's trajectory towards the White House, but Bush was fired as co-host of the Today show at NBC and became a social pariah. Now, the cousin of former president George W Bush has come forward to open up about his reaction to Trump's "grab 'em by the p***y" comment and his life since then.
"I would have welcomed addressing the audience," he told The Hollywood Reporter in a wide ranging interview regarding the first wave of reactions to the tape. While he was aware that the recording existed, he preferred not to listen to it since it left him "totally and completely gutted".
"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?' But I didn't have the strength of character to do it," he added.
While not completely defending his decision to allow Trump to carry on the sexist conversation, Bush believes the current US president was attempting to make an impact.
"I felt that, in that moment, he was being typically Donald, which is performing and shocking. Almost like Andrew Dice Clay, the stand-up comedian," he said. "When he said what he said, I'd like to think if I had thought for a minute that there was a grown man detailing his sexual assault strategy to me, I'd have called the FBI."
Bush believes the whole scandal eventually gave him the time and space to become a better man. "I am not grateful for the moment," he said in the lawyer-supervised interview. "But I'm grateful for what I've gotten out of it. I'm grateful that it hit me all the way to my core."
The 45-year-old is currently working with Propagate's Owens and co-CEO Ben Silverman to develop a series that will shed light on his new self.