After a brief suspension from NBC in the wake of the release of a video of him laughing along with Donald Trump as Trump bragged about being able to do anything to women, Today host Billy Bush was fired, according to the Associated Press. Bush was on an episode of Access Hollywood with Trump when a hot mic caught them talking. And yet, while Bush did absolutely participate in the conversation, agreeing that Trump could do "whatever" he wants and asking Arianne Zucker to give Trump and "the Bushy" (ugh) hugs, it was Trump who boasted about sexual assault, saying, "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. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything."
And he's still running for president.
Bush's additions to the conversation are definitely enough to make you want to puke a little, but it's Trump's comments that make women feel deeply afraid. Since the tape was leaked — and before, too — several women have come forward to claim that Trump treated them in the way he describes in the tape, kissing or touching them without their consent and, well, "doing anything." Trump has denied the allegations, but the fact that the man who laughed about another man's comments on sexual assault has been fired from his prominent job provides a stark contrast with the fact that the man who made the comments could soon lead the country.
Bush was only at Today for two months before the tape was leaked, after which he was suspended and began negotiating his exit with NBC. It is unclear at this time whether or not he reached a monetary settlement, though CNN reported the day before that a settlement could be worth millions.
But the fact that Bush is the only one being punished is troubling. Melania Trump went on CNN to claim that Trump was egged on by Bush "to say dirty and bad stuff," placing the blame for her husband's offensive comments on another man. For reference, here's how the conversation went:
Bush: It better not be the publicist. No, it’s, it’s her, it’s —
Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — 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. You can do anything.
Bush: Whatever you want.
Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.
Bush: Uh, yeah, those legs, all I can see is the legs.
Gross and awful, yes. But reading that brings up two questions. If only one person could be punished, who do you think should be the one to face consequences? And should that person be running for president?
But NBC felt the need to separate itself from Bush, as is the company's right. It's just important to know that members of the American public have rights, too — including the ability to separate themselves from Donald Trump.