We're undeniably living in strange times when Billy Bush (rightfully) lost his job over the Access Hollywood tape and Donald Trump went on to become President of the United States.
Last week Trump inexplicably chose to dredge up the history that ultimately didn't harm him and claim that the stomach-churning video footage is "not authentic." Trump may be experiencing some sort of memory loss because, hours after the tape's October 2016 release, he released a half-hearted apology in which he chalked up his "grab them by the pussy" comments to typical "locker room talk."
Bush will be interviewed by Stephen Colbert on Monday, marking his first TV appearance since the release of the tape. It appears that he's on an apology tour of sorts, as evidenced by an op-ed he published in The New York Times today titled "Yes, Donald Trump, You Said That."
Bush's column claims that, as Trump made those now-infamous comments, he and the seven other men on the bus "assumed we were listening to a crass standup act" and were convinced that the actions Trump described weren't "real." (It's unclear if these seven other men have expressed privately to Bush that they, too, thought Trump was simply putting on a show.)
"Recently I sat down and read an article dating from October of 2016; it was published days after my departure from NBC, a time when I wasn’t processing anything productively," Bush writes. "In it, the author reviewed the various firsthand accounts about Mr. Trump that, at that point, had come from 20 women." He then proclaims that he believes these women.
That's all well and good, but perhaps a better time to review these women's accounts and speak up would have been in October 2016. Being fired is certainly an upsetting life event, but it hardly seems like an excuse to sit back and look away from these women during the final weeks before such an important election. Would Billy Bush coming forward with this proclamation have changed the outcome? I highly doubt it, but it would have been a step towards redemption to immediately and swiftly apologize for participating in rape culture.
For what it's worth, Bush does own up to "acting out of self-interest" in the name of advancing his career and expresses his admiration for the women who came forward with allegations against Trump. But he veers into the false equivalencies that plagued us throughout the 2016 election cycle by writing, "To these women: I will never know the fear you felt or the frustration of being summarily dismissed and called a liar, but I do know a lot about the anguish of being inexorably linked to Donald Trump."
Bush's link to Trump is a far cry from the women who were allegedly sexually assaulted by the president, and the column as a whole would have seemed more authentic if self-pity was absent altogether. He concludes by expressing his hope that recent revelations about sexual misconduct will result in a change in culture and describes it as a "men's issue" before quickly stating that's "a story for another day."
But it's not a story for another day, just like the stories of Trump's accusers should never have been brushed off as a story for another day. Bush speaks of "reckoning and reawakening" but fails to mention what actions he plans to take in order to actively fight rape culture. Women don't have the luxury of waiting until men are ready to deal with this issue. And until Bush is prepared to do so, I'm not really interested in the emotional rollercoaster he experienced over the past year.