Covering a news story gets tricky for an outlet that is thrust into the center of the news, but “Access Hollywood” did not shy away from addressing the massive story surrounding their own video footage of Donald Trump and former host Billy Bush during Monday night’s broadcast.
The episode opened up with a lengthy package about Trump, the debate, and the tape.
“The ‘Access Hollywood’ tape released on Friday was front and center, and it’s still dominating headlines everywhere,” host Natalie Morales said.
The 2005 “Access Hollywood” interview featured Trump and Bush in a vulgar conversation about women with both men making disparaging and crass remarks. Bush was heard laughing and seen playing along with Trump’s sexist comments. The tape was a big topic in Sunday night’s presidential debate, and since the video surfaced, Bush has been suspended from the “Today” show, pending review.
Monday’s “Access Hollywood” featured footage from the debate and scenes of an “Access” reporter in the spin room. The show also addressed former “Access Hollywood” host Nancy O’Dell’s reaction to the Trump/Bush video — and also briefly mentioned that Bush had been suspended from “Today.”
“He is torn up over this, and he takes this very seriously,” said Kit Hoover, who replaced O’Dell in 2010 and was Bush’s co-host on the entertainment show for six years.
Earlier in the day on “Access Hollywood Live,” Hoover defended Bush and teared up as she spoke about him. “The Billy that I know, and that a lot of people would say, has the biggest heart of anybody, and he is a good person. He was always in my corner. I was just devastated to watch all this unfold,” Hoover said on the afternoon show.
Morales, who took Bush’s spot on “Access Hollywood” when he jumped over to the NBC morning show, added: “One of the first people to call me and congratulate me when I announced that I would be getting this job was Billy. He also offered advice and offered to help with my move and transition.”
Monday morning, “Today” barely mentioned the saga, other than addressing the elephant in the room: Bush was not there. “We want to note one other thing: pending further review, NBC News has suspended Billy Bush, the host of ‘Today’s’ third hour for his role in that conversation with Donald Trump,” said “Today” anchor Savannah Guthrie. Al Roker sat in for Bush during the 9 a.m. hour, and alongside Bush’s co-host Tamron Hall, said, “As you can see, Billy Bush is not joining us today, as you’re probably aware.”
O’Dell was in the host seat Monday night on “Entertainment Tonight,” opening her show with a statement addressing her conflict as a journalist being thrown into the news. She said, “As a journalist for 26 years now, it is my job to bring you news about others, rather than turning the focus on myself. But by now, I’m sure that most of you have heard the audio tape that, which became national news and part of the presidential race. My name was mentioned and unfortunately, the release of it has thrown me in the middle of the political arena of which I didn’t ask to be a part.”