Call it the “I was always a creep” defense.
Billy Bush is attempting to use the fact that he has a long history of making creepy, objectifying, and downright sexist remarks about women on camera and in the studio to portray his indefinite suspension by NBC as the network cynically and hypocritically scapegoating him for their own PR reasons.
Bush has reportedly been all but fired by NBC after hot-mic tapes emerged of him engaging in lewd talk with Donald Trump before an Access Hollywood segment was due to start filming.
In the video, Bush remarks of Arianne Zucker, the actress who is waiting to escort them into a soap-opera set, “Your girl’s hot as shit, in the purple.”
While making a comment like that would not in isolation be a fireable offense, it is the overall tone of Bush’s banter with Trump in the video that has turned stomachs, and turned the network against their one-time golden boy.
For example, Bush responds, “Whatever you want,” when Trump declares, “When you’re a star, they let you do it… You can do anything.”
When Trump makes his now notorious, “Grab them by the pussy,” remark, Bush chuckles heartily and approvingly in the background.
And Bush supporters are making the argument to the gossip site that as “some of these remarks are apparently recorded” and “no one complained,” this means that there was implied tolerance of sexually charged banter in the studio.
TMZ says that some of the comments made include remarks such as, “Man, you look hot today,” “Look at her legs,” and “Man, she looks hot today!”
Bush once asked Jennifer Lopez, “How do you feel about your butt?” on camera.
It’s just one of numerous creepy remarks Bush has made to female celebrities over the years.
John Oliver recently aired a montage of such on-screen moments on Last Week Tonight.
Oliver played a series of the former Access Hollywood co-host’s off-color but on-camera exchanges with everyone from Justin Bieber to Nancy O’Dell.
If Bush can prove most—or indeed any—of these remarks were scripted, he may yet be able to make the argument that NBC encouraged and endorsed a culture of sexist objectification.