NBC was reportedly planning on airing the footage of Donald Trump bragging about grabbing a woman “by the pussy” after the debate, until someone leaked it to the Washington Post.
The story behind the story, as reported by CNN’s Brian Stelter and the Washington Post starts with an AP report about Trump’s “lewd and sexist” behavior on the set of The Apprentice. The story reportedly prompted an unnamed Access Hollywood producer to dig up footage of Trump’s appearance in 2005, which included the unaired hot mic discussion between Trump and host Billy Bush. On the tape, recorded aboard an Access Hollywood bus, Trump—who was at the time expecting a baby with his third and current wife Melania—admits he tried unsuccessfully to sleep with host Nancy O’Dell. He also bragged his celebrity status made it okay for him to grab women “by the pussy” as a seduction technique.
Trump: I moved on [Nancy O’Dell], actually. You know, she was down in Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.
Trump: I did try and fuck her. She was married.
Bush: That’s huge news there.
Trump: No, no. Nancy, this was [unintelligible] and I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.”
Trump: I took her out, furniture. I moved on her like a bitch.
Bush: [laughs, high pitched]
Trump: But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. And all of the sudden, I see her, she’s now got the big, phony tits, and she’s totally changed her look.
Trump and Bush got off the bus, noticed an actress named Ariana Zucker, and resumed the discussion:
Bush: Your girl’s hot as shit, in the purple.
Trump: Whoa! Whoa!
Trump: I’ve gotta use some tic tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful. 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.
Bush: Whatever you want
Trump: Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.
By Friday morning, Stelter reports, executive producer Rob Silverstein had decided to air the footage at some undetermined point in the future that would definitely not be in time for the second presidential debate, which takes place on Sunday. That was, until someone leaked it to the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, who published the footage Friday afternoon.
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It seems more likely than not it was an NBC employee who called Farenthold, who says he answered his phone around 11 a.m. Friday to a source asking if he wanted “some previously unaired video of Trump?” As it turns out, he did.
Contacted by CNNMoney on Friday, Farenthold declined to comment about how he obtained the tape.
But sources at NBC believe someone inside NBC downloaded the footage from one of the network’s video servers. The tape was accessible internally since the “Access” story was already in the works.
Once Farenthold published, NBC and Access Hollywood both aired versions of the story, though somewhat notably, the Access Hollywood copy edited out some of Bush’s more rude comments, an editorial move that also might explain their obvious reluctance to air the footage. The story quickly became the Post’s most concurrently-read story ever, with a reported 100,000 people reading it concurrently at one point, and the traffic “ briefly crashed the servers of the newspaper’s internal tracking system.”
Trump has since responded by arguing that Bill Clinton has done worse.