billy bush stephen colbert

Screengrab via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/YouTube

Stephen Colbert makes Billy Bush listen to ‘Access Hollywood’ tape

‘You dealt with it for 14 minutes and went on to be the president.’


Michelle Jaworski


Posted on Dec 5, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 9:03 am CDT

Billy Bush reemerged this week with a New York Times op-ed after Donald Trump privately said that he believes it isn’t his voice on the infamous Access Hollywood tape. Now he’s opening up more about Trump, the tape, and his own reckoning with the cultural shift about sexual harassment in recent months.

The op-ed, along with his appearance on The Late Show, is being perceived as a redemption tour for Bush, who was fired last year for his role in the Access Hollywood tape, but Stephen Colbert didn’t make it easy for him. At times, the 12-minute interview was awkward and uncomfortable as even now Bush still grappled with describing the tape and its aftermath.

No matter how much Bush tried to delay it, Colbert made Bush watch the Access Hollywood tape.

“The first time I ever heard it was three days before it leaked. And so it was like a gut punch,” a noticeably cringing Bush said afterward. “It’s a gut punch now. It will always be.”

At the time, Bush thought that Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” comments were part of a routine, that Trump was performing for Bush and the crew members on the bus. And as host of NBC’s Access Hollywood, he had to kiss up to one of NBC’s most profitable stars. But after hearing and reading the accounts of the multiple women who’ve accused Trump of sexual assault, he knows it wasn’t a routine. Like he does in the op-ed, Bush showed support for those women, debunking the myth that all of those women got together to plan their accusations against Trump.

And in the post-Harvey Weinstein era, Bush voiced how important it was to continue the conversation about sexual assault and believing women, noting that “the bus ride was the tip of the iceberg.”

“Women must be believed, and we kind of have to find our way to have the dialogue,” Bush explained. “I’m worried that the dialogue isn’t going to be around, because we get on to the next thing, we get onto our phones, the next outrage comes. We have to continue it all the way through and I hope we do that.”

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*First Published: Dec 5, 2017, 8:30 am CST