Former Today Show anchor Billy Bush said he experienced "suicidal thoughts" after he was fired from the show in 2016. During the 2016 presidential election, an Access Hollywood tape featuring future President Donald Trump saying he could grab women "by the p—y" and Bush laughing at the remark leaked, leading to Bush being fired. Bush tried several times to restart his career, but none were successful until Fox Television hired him for Extra.
“Suicidal thoughts pop into your head,” Bush told The Daily Beast in a new interview published Saturday. “I’d never seriously do it — because I have children that matter. But when you’re really low — and this is important to include — you’re emoting at the most extreme."
Bush said he is "never a serious candidate for that" because he "could not do that to those who count on [him] and love [him] and need [him]."
"But you think, ‘Oh, I would do it!’ No, no you won’t. But you’re upset," Bush continued. "Look, everybody has something. Everybody has something that is really, really deeply upsetting. And if you haven’t, you will. That’s for sure. And I may have something again. I hope I’m conditioned to take a deep breath, acknowledge the feelings, and know that they’re not here to stay."
After he was fired, Bush said he started drinking and left "lost and abandoned" this past Christmas. “Kinda like, ‘Where’s my industry? Where’s my life? What am I doing here?'"
Bush read The Purpose of Christmas by pastor Rick Warren, which inspired him to feel a little better about his position.
"And it took me from the deepest feelings of despair to a warm glow of everything’s gonna be just fine. A very powerful moment. And I won’t forget it," he told The Daily Beast before adding, "The negative feelings and the depression feelings don’t go away... But you can get through them and recover from the episodes quicker."
On Oct. 7, 2016, a 2005 tape featuring Trump and Bush being recorded while on the Access Hollywood bus to the Days of Our Lives set leaked. In the tape, Trump told Bush, "When you're a star, they let you do it."
"Whatever you want," Bush said as he laughed.
"Grab 'em by the p—y," Trump added. "You can do anything."
While Trump was elected president a month later, Bush quickly lost his job at Today.
In the three years since the tape leaked, Bush mounted attempts to get back in the public eye, with interviews with The Hollywood Reporter, Good Morning America's Robin Roberts and Stephen Colbert. He also published an op-ed in The New York Times. Bush said these interviews came from "an eagerness to say something at some point."
None of these attempts to rehabilitate his image resulted in a job until recently. In January, it was reported that he was in talks with Extra producers. He got the deal, and his first episode airs on Monday. After the first episode airs, Bush no longer wants to talk about the Trump video.
"Let me be totally straight. This week, have at it. Any question you want. As soon as I go on the air next Monday night, never again. That's it," Bush said on the BUILD Series. "I'm just going to politely say, 'If that's on your agenda, I'm not going to participate if it's okay.' But this week, of course."
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Photo credit: Gary Gershoff/Getty Images