Sketchy Things Everyone Just Ignores About Billy Bush

If you don't avidly follow celebrity news, you may not have known the name Billy Bush until recently—although you may have recognized his face from his long tenure interviewing celebrities on Access Hollywood or his stints hosting red-carpet events. Despite being former U.S. President George W. Bush's cousin, this member of the Bush clan disavowed politics and built a career in radio and television broadcasting.

As Billy told the Las Vegas Review Journal in 2008, following in the public service footsteps of his uncle and cousins was not for him. "Too many skeletons in this closet. No. I'm so apolitical. I have respect for my uncle and my cousin, who have achieved great heights, but it's not for me. People don't even know how I vote."

Throughout most of his career, Billy managed to keep a fairly low public profile—that is, until a tape from 2005 surfaced with a "hot mic" conversation between Bush and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The tape was not just an "October surprise" for the Trump campaign—it's reached "October nuke" status. Since its release, Billy has come under fire for his own comments in the conversation with Trump and was suspended from his position as a host on NBC's Today show indefinitely.

After doing some digging of our own, we found the Access Hollywood Trump tape was not the only skeleton hiding in Billy's closet. Before we discuss the infamous tape, let's take a look at some of his other shady moments.

The 'most annoying man in show business'

Billy has a long history of inappropriate behavior on-air. Before his big break on TV with Access Hollywood, he hosted a morning radio show in the D.C. area called The Bush League. Like most "morning zoo" radio formats, the program was filled with gags and off-color humor. After only a couple of years, listeners tired of Billy's on-air antics and he was fired for making inappropriate comments on the show.

As a presenter with Access Hollywood, Billy gained notoriety among celebrities for his aggressive interviewing style. At a premiere of the movie Red Dragon, actor Ed Norton made time to talk to several reporters, but completely ignored Billy. Norton was later heard saying, "I think he's a jackass."

Along the same vein, in 2004 while working the pre-Oscar show, the Philadelphia Inquirer said Billy "ran around the Kodak Theatre like a linebacker, knocking actors aside to get to the celebrities he coveted, pulling people out of their seats to be interviewed." The host of the Oscars that evening, Billy Crystal, noticed the correspondent's antics and couldn't restrain himself, quipping, "This is the most annoying man in show business." That remark was reportedly overheard by a number of reporters and became an instant nickname.

Creepers gonna creep

While Billy attempts to present an air of familiarity with the celebrities he interviews—treating them like buddies instead of public figures—that casualness sometimes comes off as creepy, especially when he interviews women. Host John Oliver of Last Week Tonight brilliantly illustrated this point when he aired a montage of creepy Bush moments—including asking Jennifer Lopez, "How do you feel about your butt?" and telling the then-teenaged Justin Bieber that he guessed the Biebs "likes the exotic and dark a little bit" because of his relationship with Selena Gomez.

An entertainer masquerading as a journalist

In 2004, Billy talked to the Philadelphia Inquirer about Access Hollywood executive producer Rob Silverstein—in particular, how Silverstein helped him become the success he is today. Billy mentioned that he was told to act like a friend instead of a journalist. "Rob said, 'You know the way we are when we're hanging out in the office? That's the way you need to be on the air. It's not about long-form interviews. It's about nuggets of fun and emotion.' I caught that and started having moments with people," Billy said.

Unfortunately for Billy, it seems nobody told him that while Today is a talk show, its cast is comprised of highly-trained journalists who are expected to behave as such at all times. Acting as a friend, and not a reporter, when holding a newsworthy interview backfired spectacularly for Billy during the Olympic Games in Rio in the summer of 2016.

Divided loyalties

After joining the Today show cast as a co-anchor, Billy made waves among his colleagues—and not in a good way. In fact, it was reportedly, a "Mean Girls" mentality among the Today cast that led to Billy scoring an exclusive interview with Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte. A source told Page Six that "Billy is more of a frat guy...He gets boisterous when he goes out. You can't just go out with Billy and have tapas and relax." The source added that Bush wasn't being included in Today's after-hours fraternizing and because his new co-workers were shunning him, he opted to spend much of his time in Rio with his former Access Hollywood pals, which is who he was with when he spotted Lochte.

The Ryan Lochte incident

Billy scored quite a scoop during the Rio Olympics when he interviewed Lochte. News had just broke that the Olympic gold medalist had allegedly been robbed during a night out in Rio, and Billy managed to grab the first interview with the embattled swimmer.

Billy and some of his Access Hollywood friends had reportedly been hanging out on the beach when Billy spotted Lochte and asked him about the incident. Here's Lochte's account in full: "We got pulled over in our taxi, and these guys came out with a badge—a police badge—no lights, no nothing," Lochte recalled. "Just a police badge and they pulled us over. They pulled out their guns. They told the other swimmers to get down on the ground. They got down on the ground. I refused, I was like, 'We didn't do anything wrong, so I'm not getting down on the ground.' And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead, and he said, 'get down' and I put my hands up. I was like 'whatever.' He took our money. He took my wallet. He left my cell phone. He left my credentials."

Billy took the story at face value, even letting the dubious "whatever" comment slide. It seems Billy failed to realize his responsibility to investigate and fact-check Lochte's claims. That negligence definitely caused problems for Billy later.

On-air fight with Al Roker

It didn't take long for the truth to come out. Lochte had fabricated most of his story about the so-called robbery. During the fallout, Billy and colleague Al Roker got into it on-air. Roker started the salvo, criticizing Lochte for his actions. "He lied to you, he lied to Matt Lauer, he lied to his mom...He left his teammates hanging while he skedaddled."

Billy initially tried his "friend; not journalist" tactic, attempting to defend Lochte. "He certainly lied about some details," Billy began, but Roker wouldn't let that slide. "No," he interrupted. "No! No, Billy, not some details. There was no robbery. There was no pullover. There was nothing! Nobody cocked a gun to his head. He lied!"

Both anchors were visibly frustrated, and a meme of Roker, furiously stirring his drink, went viral—with lots of viewers taking Roker's side. Billy was left speechless and embarrassed, and the Today show producers tapped long-time anchor Lauer to conduct the follow-up interview with Lochte instead of Billy.

He may have caused Nancy O'Dell to quit

While Billy clearly still has friends on the Access Hollywood staff, rumors about bad-boy behavior on the AH set have dogged him for years. Some have even blamed that behavior for the resignation of Nancy O'Dell in 2009. O'Dells' abrupt departure from the show caught many off guard, and while her official statement at the time said she wanted to "take her career to the next level," many insiders thought Bush was part of the real reason.

As one source told the New York Daily News, "The atmosphere at Access Hollywood is like walking on a landmine because of Billy. He throws tantrums and tirades and oftentimes for no apparent reason. It was one of several things that had Nancy at her wit's end after 13 years." Bush allegedly used his buddy relationship with AH producer Rob Silverstein to his advantage: "Billy would go so far as to curse out producers for not writing the copy in a way he liked it, and would really go off if they assigned him to read a story that he felt was beneath him." a source said. This was reportedly too much for O'Dell to handle, prompting her resignation.

It wouldn't be the last time that O'Dell made the news because of Billy's antics. Her name was splashed across the headlines again when it was revealed she was who Trump was talking about in the infamous "grab them by the p***y" video.

The Trump tape

By now, you've probably heard or seen at least part of the Access Hollywood tape featuring Trump and Billy caught on a hot mic. During the conversation, Billy can be heard giggling as Trump describes his attempt to seduce Billy's co-host, O'Dell. "I moved on her, and I failed. I'll admit it," Trump says.

"Whoa," Billy replies.

"I did try and f**k her. She was married," Trump says, then goes on to describe his failed seduction attempt, before making lewd comments about O'Dell's "big phony tits."

Many friends of O'Dell at NBC have expressed dismay that Billy didn't stand up for his colleague.

But that's not all that's on the tape. As the bus Trump and Billy are riding in pulls into a parking lot, Billy appears to notice Arianne Zucker—the actress who was waiting to escort the pair onto the set. "Your girl's hot as s**t, in the purple," he says. Trump replies that he plans to use a Tic-Tac breath mint, in case he spontaneously begins to kiss Zucker. "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," Trump says. "You can do anything."

Bush laughs and eggs Trump on, adding, "Whatever you want."

Trump agrees. "Grab them by the p***y," he says. "You can do anything."

Perhaps the most disturbing part about Billy's role in the conversation comes after they exit the bus. Having heard everything Trump just had to say about sexually assaulting women, Billy begins the conversation with Zucker by asking her to give them a hug. Gross.

Morality clause

If the allegations that Billy bragged about the Trump tape to NBC staff during the Olympics—which prompted staffers to go in search of it—prove true, then his journalistic integrity will certainly be called into question. According to a source for Page Six, Billy never told NBC producers about the tape when he joined Today, despite chuckling about it in August 2016 with Today crew members.

"Billy was bragging about the tape to other NBC staff while in Rio. If he knew about the tape, and remembered the full extent of such an explosive conversation with a presidential candidate and didn't disclose that to NBC News, that is a very, very serious problem," the insider said, adding it could violate the "morality clause" in his contract.

After the Trump tape was leaked, Us Weekly spoke to an insider at NBC who confirmed that coworkers were not too fond of Billy. The source went so far as to say that Today's Tamron Hall, Lauer and Roker all "strongly dislike" him. This lack of support from his colleagues and his superiors obviously doesn't bode well for his future at the show. A staff member at the show told People, "I don't want to see him again. And I think there are a lot of women who feel the same way. I know this will have to be addressed by the producers and NBC. It has to be, or else they'll have a mutiny on their hands."