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CNN’s Brian Stelter is reporting Billy Bush may never return to Today. Is the new co-anchor of the 9:00 hour  simply disposable? Irredeemable? Is he not worthy of a second chance like Brian Williams whose narcissistic on-air fantasies destroyed his news credibility or CNN’s Richard Quest who was once arrested after hours in Central Park with meth in his pocket and a rope around his genitals.

42ecef06022ce3c9b79fe85ef92567e9-2Billy Bush offered a Friday night apology: “Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago—I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”  He was set to apologize on air Monday morning but instead got an indefinite suspension and the cancellation of his surprise welcoming party.


If we’re going to be architects of gender equality and respect in the workplace, we have to find a new way. The old way hasn’t been working very well.


We’ve all seen the tape: a joyful road trip with Trump the Vulgarian and Billy the Wingman that somehow became Pussygate 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

UPDATE 10/11/16 CNN’s Brian Stelter reporting Billy Bush may never return to Today.

UPDATE: Billy Bush no longer set to apologize on NBC’s Today Monday morning

NBC News is confirming Billy Bush will be off the air Monday Today show’s 9 AM hour, three days after the Washington Post released audio tape of Bush in a lewd, predatory conversation he had with now-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2005 about women, including Bush’s then Access Hollywood co-host Nancy O’Dell. 



UPDATE: CNN’s Brian Stelter is reporting  Bush may never return to Today.  Is Billy Bush simply disposable? Irredeemable? Is he not worthy of a second chance like Brian Williams who’s narcissistic on-air fantasies destroyed his news credibility or CNN’s Richard Quest who was once arrested after hours in Central Park with meth in his pocket and a rope around his genitals.

Sex scandals are as American as apple pie — but when one involves a presidential candidate (Trump the Vulgarian) and a member of the media (Billy the Wingman), you somehow wind up with Pussygate.

On Friday night, Bush—who is married and has three daughters—released a statement of apology:

“Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago—I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”

Enough? Hardly.  Billy is just as crass as Trump and creates a hostile work environment as he lets Trump demeans his former co-anchor, Nancy O’Dell, because she wouldn’t sleep with him although he went after her like a “bitch” (presumably in heat.)

Bush, anchor of Access Hollywood, was shilling a three-way for NBC… busing  the Apprentice host to the set of an NBC soap opera for a cameo with an actress named Arianna Zucker

When they spot the actress, Bush blurts out, ” “Sheeesh, your girl’s hot as shit! In the purple.”

“Whoa! Whoa!” Trump exclaims.

“Yes! The Donald has scored!” Bush answers. With a raucous laugh, he adds: “Whoa, my man! You gotta look at her…Give her the thumbs-up. You gotta give the thumbs-up….Oh my God!”

Trump then remarks that he’s going to use some Tic Tacs, “just in case I start kissing her,” he explains. “When you’re a star, they let you do it.”

“Whatever you want,” Bush agrees.

When the two frat boys get off they bus,  Zucker greets Trump with a handshake.

“How about a little hug for The Donald? He just got off the bus,” Bush pimps for Trump who gives her a quick hug and acknowledges, “This is okay with Melania.

“I just got off the bus,” Bush says, and leans in for his own hug from Zucker. “There we go!” he says when the actress complies.

As an author of a book on of political sex scandals in America going back to 1700s, Fall from Grace: the History of Sex, Scandal and Corruption in American Politics (Ballantine) I have researched them all and never before has such outrage and gag reflexes been triggered by the likes of Trump and Billy

. History shows plenty of leaders who loved and lusted after women with whom they didn’t belong.
Their own words show conscience, a longing for romance, an elevation of sex and romance mixed in with their moral stumbling.  Absent is a predatory sense of entitlement.

In 1786, the widowed Thomas Jefferson penned one of the greatest love letters in history to Mrs. Maria Cosway, who is married. The 12-page-long letter is a dialogue with his conscience titled, “My Head and My Heart,” in which Jefferson longs for a woman who has made him “the most wretched of all earthly beings.” The letter nobly concludes with Jefferson’s integrity winning over his desire for Cosway.

In 1796, Alexander Hamilton self-published his confession of an affair with a married woman rather than fall victim to financial blackmail during his time as the first secretary of the treasury, He detailed the entire event and included his personal struggles to end the relationship:“The intercourse with Mrs.Reynolds in the meantime continued… Her conduct make it difficult to disentangle myself.”

Warren Harding wrote love letters with erotic zeal to Mrs. Carrie Phillips for over a decade: “There is one engulfing, enthralling rule of love, the song of your whole being which is a bit sweeter — Oh Warren! Oh Warren! “ when your body quivers with divine paroxysms and your shoulder hovers for flight with mine.”

Even Lyndon Johnson added some wit to his seduction of a staffer when he climbed into her bed and instructed, “Move over, this is your President.”

Sex talk among politicians has a great range of emotion and a lot of chivalry. Not one person in high level politics is known to have ever uttered words that boasted an entitlement to sexual assault.

Friday night, Jeb Bush tweeted that no apology would be enough to forgive Donald Trump for his boasting that he can grab a woman’s pussy at will because he’s a star. I tweeted him back to ask if he felt the same about his cousin, Billy, who is seen on the tape egging him on, then pimping him off to a soap opera star for a post-Tic Tac hug. (Jeb Bush didn’t respond.)

While the GOP has bunkered in, the leadership at NBC has hunkered down, trying to access the fallout for their future star of the news division. Bush quickly issued an appropriate apology, but as they say in television, sometimes “sorry” isn’t enough.

At best, Billy Bush created a hostile work environment for those on the bus who undoubtedly decided to “go along to get along.” And who is Bush calling “Honey,” on the bus and does he know how belittling that term is for any woman in the work place.

No one thinks the news division chief, who refused to cut ties with the fully damaged Brian Williams, will summarily fire Bush either. But what should they do when the morning show is so heavily tilted with female viewers.

As a veteran network news executive who’s reported extensively on sexual harassment and has personally managed this dirty secret of the workplace as both an executive and a target (see Daily Beast “Roger Ailes Harassed Me, I Thought I Was the First and the Last), I share my final thoughts on Bush. (The voters get to decide the fate of Trump.)

First, I’d send Billy Bush off to Texas to apologize to the family elders and have his ears boxed by his aunt, Barbara Bush. That would be enough to satisfy me, personally, but there’s more to do.

What about something more meaningful for him, for the rest of the country. Why not assign Bush a Today Show series on sexual harassment, rape on campus, gender equality in Hollywood. Team him up with Jenna Bush, if she even would touch this hot mess. Let him help use this as a teachable moment for himself, first, then guide America to a better dialogue between men and women. This round, why not really groom and grow the anchor of the future.

Palin vs. Trump for president. Pitching Mark Burnett a reality show for 2012.

Peter Kramer / Getty Images

Dear Mark Burnett,

We’re still fighting wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya where suddenly we’re supporting the rebels who are also supported by Al Qaeda. We’ve got a few ships offshore to aid Japan which is experiencing its worst crisis since WWII, one that could get more frightening, impacting the global economy and world’s environment as well.

Back at home, we’ve reached a record $14T debt, devastating unemployment and a health care crisis. Predictably, Obama’s 2012 contenders are starting to making lots of noise.

Again, it’s not Bloomberg or Huckabee. It’s still Sarah Palin and Donald Trump. These two figures, who are as different as, well, Alaska and New York, have one thing in common:  they both have starred in reality shows produced by you. Coincidence?

Sarah was first of your stars to throw her hat in the ring when she told Barbara Walters she could beat Obama in 2012.  Two days later, Donald went on the same network and told George Stephanopoulos while he didn’t really want to run for president, he might just have to because China is laughing at us.

"Star" Power: Sarah Palin in Israel last week

Everyone was fairly quiet for a while, especially Sarah who had bloodied her own nose a bit during “blood libel” furor.  But this week, she wrapped up her rehab with a whirlwind trip to India, where she was paid for a speech on why we should fear China, and ending with a stop over in Israel where she visited the holy city of Jerusalem and prayed at the Western Wall.  She also visited Benjamin Netanyahu.  Her visit to Israel followed other potential Republican challengers: Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.

One wonders if Donald Trump is watching Palin closely.  The same week she was exploring the archeological tunnels of the Western wall, the excavation of which caused Palestinians to riot in ’96,  Donald Trump was on CNN, then “The View” to discuss Obama’s record deficit, his birth certificate and national security, along with his thoughts on a presidential run. “I’m thinking about it very strongly. I think I’d do a really good job. I think I’d protect this country like it’s not being protected,” he said.

And, oh my, he said he’ll decide by June, at the end of Celebrity Apprentice, and that he’d might even use the last show as a “forum.”

As a fellow TV veteran who has produced countless interviews with presidential candidates, I hope you don’t mind some advice on what I see as two major problems. First, coming from Great Britain, you may not know the equal time rule for federal elections and that could wreak havoc with Trump’s final show idea. Second, which candidate is the fan favorite and the one you want the country to support? One solution: a new primetime reality show which pits Palin against Trump. This way you get to be the producer and the judge.

Here are some possible titles: So You Want To Be the PresidentCampaigning With the Stars,Survivor: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or The Really Amazing Race. To save on the budget, rent the old West Wing set from NBC. Then, each week, summon the candidates/contestants into the Oval Office for their latest assignment. The challenges would unfold like this:

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