Bush photographed attending the Kaleidoscope Ball at 3LABS on May 21, 2016.
By Emma McIntyre/Getty Images.
This month marks two years since a leaked Access Hollywood tape ended Billy Bush’s then-ascendant career at NBC, and the TV personality marked the occasion with some social-media wisdom Monday. “I have concluded that I am NOT extraordinary,” Bush wrote of his experience as a pariah, after the world heard him snicker along on a hot mic that caught Donald Trump casually suggesting that he’d committed sexual assault. “Terrible things can happen at any moment to ANYONE.”
“I have an idea,” Bush continued in his Instagram post. “Let’s stop tolerating this escalating war on flaws and the obliteration of people for things we all do. It’s fueled by an activist media and (anti) social media and it’s barbaric. We are humans and thus fallible. Let’s take better care of each other.”
This isn’t the first time Bush has attempted a rhetorical airing of grievances. In December of 2017, the New York Times published an op-ed in which he addressed the women who had accused Trump of sexual assault. “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,” he wrote. (Trump has denied the allegations.)
But Bush’s Instagram post on Tuesday seemed to be a step down another, increasingly familiar path: one in which powerful people, often men, accused of committing or abetting bad behavior put their public trial itself on trial. Woody Allen, for instance, was a small but pivotal figure in a recent profile of his wife, Soon-Yi Previn, who called the allegations of abuse against him “so upsetting, so unjust.” (Allen has also claimed that Dylan Farrow and her family are “cynically using the opportunity afforded by the Time’s Up movement to repeat this discredited allegation.”) Roseanne Barr claimed the backlash she received over her racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett was actually a smear—an intentional misunderstanding of a harmless tweet about politics.
And then there is Brett Kavanaugh, who furiously denied allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple women and declared the entire controversy “a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election—fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.” Despite all of it—or perhaps because of it—he was confirmed to the Supreme Court on Saturday, just days before Bush posted to Instagram and inevitably linked himself to Kavanaugh in the process.
No, Bush did not assault anyone, and perhaps two years in the wilderness is enough price to pay. But Bush’s version of the Access Hollywood story proves that, however formative the last two years have been, he doesn’t fully understand what happened—or who the real victims are. Then again, blaming the media worked fairly well to get Kavanaugh and Trump what they wanted. Maybe Bush has learned something after all.