Billy Bush, whose career tanked last October after an 11-year-old audio recording surfaced of him and Donald Trump discussing women in very vulgar terms, is finally speaking out about the infamous recording and saying he plans “to return to the job that I love.”
Bush, 45, who was ousted from the “Today” show and ostracized by the media world after the hot-mic recording was revealed, told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview that he “didn’t have the strength of character” to change the subject. More than a decade later, that weakness cost him his job and his reputation.
“It’s hard for a network or show to stand by someone who said such reprehensible things or merely went along with it,” celebrity crisis expert Kevin Blatt told Fox News in October 2016, when the story broke in the runup to the Nov. 8 election that put Trump in the White House.
“But give him six months,” Blatt said then, “and he’ll be on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and all will be forgiven.”
So is Bush finally heading in that direction?
“Billy Bush will absolutely find success in his future, but he will do it in a different way than before,” said media consultant Scot Safon, a former network TV executive. “This is an opportunity to re-emerge in sports and pop culture reporting, and maybe work his way back into the spotlight.
“He would do well to study Brian Williams' road back. He needs to go slow and steady.”
But Dan Gainor, vice president for business and culture at the Media Research Center, does not agree.
“Bush is on the classic crisis-managed recovery tour,” Gainor said. “The only way for Bush to save his career is to go all-in against Trump and say how horrified he is that he didn't reveal the video sooner and stop the president from ever winning.
“It might not be honest, but no one in the media cares about such niceties.”
TV host Maury Povich has faith, though, both in Bush and in America’s ability to forgive and forget.
“Americans are very forgiving if they feel a person is honestly contrite,” Povich said. “Billy will find his way."
The key, says one industry insider, is for Bush never to speak of his Trump fiasco again.
“He needs something new to talk about and focus on,” said Rob Shuter, editor in chief of NaughtyGossip.com. “He has said ‘sorry’ and should never talk about this again.
“THR is a business trade that everyone in the TV industry reads. Doing his first interview with this outlet proves he's still trying to get a job and win back the support of his industry. This was a very smart move for a man without a job.”
Jen Groover, brand expert and author, predicted Bush “will get another chance to redeem himself.” But she said she wasn’t sure he’ll be able to achieve “the same level he was.”
Fox News.com Reporter and FOX411 host Diana Falzone covers celebrity news and interviews some of today's top celebrities and newsmakers. You can follow her on Twitter @dianafalzone.