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Billy Bush, 'the Fluffer' Who Laughed at Trump's 'Grab 'Em by the Pussy' Assault Fantasy, Is Ready for Sympathy

Illustration for article titled Billy Bush, the Fluffer Who Laughed at Trumps Grab Em by the Pussy Assault Fantasy, Is Ready for Sympathy
Image: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

Sit down and let out a big, meditative and disappointed sigh for this one: Billy Bush is the subject of a new, lengthy profile in Men’s Health for some reason, and it’s clear he’s ready to garner sympathy after his very public firing from NBC’s Today four years ago. A refresher: Bush was let go shortly after an old Access Hollywood tape was unearthed and revealed him not only laughing at and provoking Donald Trump’s assault fantasy, his infamous “Grab ‘em by the pussy” line—but documented Bush pressuring actor Arianne Zucker, the target of Trump’s harassment, into a hug. Also, the piece begins with Bush informing its author, Anna Peele, that she doesn’t need to wear a mask around him. Great news all around.

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Bush says he spent the end of 2016 jobless, separated from his wife, and drinking “too much whiskey.” He doesn’t say anything about a monetary settlement from NBC, or whether he had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, but concedes that when he was 33, the time the tape was recorded, he was a “little suck-up cog” and a “little suck-up Billy Bush” and “the fluffer.” He also says that if he were that 33 years old again, on that bus, knowing what he knows now, he doesn’t think he would behave differently—only that he might try to change the topic of conversation, or simply laugh without additional commentary. “I’m not going to give [you] a pandering answer. I’m sorry. I can’t,” he said.

Of course, none of this matters, because last year—just three years after the tape went public—Bush was hired on FOX’s Extra for a year, and rated so well, he signed a four-year contract. The men, they never truly fail. No one is ever canceled.

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At the very least—and I mean, the very, very, very least—Bush attempts to recognize his privilege, admitting that before the tape and his subsequent firing, “nothing bad ever happened to me.” “I’m not just some untouched little sheltered, happy-go-lucky, ‘Jeez, everything good happens to this guy’ [person],” he says of what he views of what Men’s Health calls his “public disgrace,” and I’m more inclined to call a “three-year respite.” “It makes you real,” he continues. “Life isn’t fair. Everybody has some kind of fucked-up shit. And if you don’t know that, and if you don’t know how to handle that, process that, get through that, then you haven’t fully gotten to where you need to be. I’m afraid that event was important for my development as a broadcaster, as a journalist, as a man, as a person. I needed to have my ass handed to me.”

Great! Sounds like he learned a lot. Such as: How to be complicit in workplace sexual harassment and still end up landing a lucrative new job.

Bush also says he was disappointed that Matt Lauer didn’t vouch for him and attempt to save his job at Today in 2016—“That he didn’t fight for me is so deeply hurtful because I’ve known him for absolutely ever.”—which is not something a reasonable man would choose to share in an interview, given the disgraced host’s own slew of sexual harassment, assault, coercion and rape allegations.

Congrats to Bush and his mediocre career’s endless endurance. Read the full story here.

Senior Writer, Jezebel. My debut book, LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands, is out now.

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DISCUSSION

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You know, I was having a lot of anxiety lately, and the root of it was worrying about whether Billy Bush was doing okay. Now that I know that he is, I can take a deep breath.  Everyone, I think we’re all going to be fine.