Billy Bush could have helped us grow
Billy Bush has been fired from the Today Show following the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood tape featuring Bush talking with and egging on Donald Trump as they both denigrated women and Trump confessed to sexual assault.
NBC is making a mistake
NBC is now trying to mitigate damage to their morning show and try to move on from this situation. As I have written before, this conversation between Trump and Bush is a prime example of rape culture. What both of them said is abhorrent. That said, NBC’s decision to fire Bush is a mistake and a lost opportunity.
Expand the conversation
After the video came out, Bush issued an apology.
“Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago. I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”
I don’t know how sincere his apology is. I don’t know if he is very sorry about what he said or if he is very sorry that he got caught.
Regardless, NBC and the Today Show could have taken the opportunity to turn this video and their host’s role in it, into a teachable moment for the nation and more specifically for men.
There has been lots of talk about rape culture in recent years, particularly this year with the trial and sentencing of Brock Turner. I have not seen any of that talk and outrage turn into a genuine conversation in the national media about what rape culture is, the foundations of it, nor a broader conversation about men’s culture and the objectification of women. Now is as good a time as any.
Commit airtime to talk about men
I know we men already take up a lot of airtime. I have never seen the Today Show. I am a radio person in the morning and except when I am at hotels for work, have never been much of a morning show TV watcher. I also have no cable and don’t get NBC on my antenna. I assume the show is much like other morning shows that are generally fluffy and targeted more at entertainment than serious news. Probably interviews with celebrities and fashion designers, some live music, conversations about coffee, lots of joking around and live spots outside the studio for weather and various special events. I understand it is a three hour show and Billy bush was the host of the final hour.
Instead of firing Bush, he and the Today Show could have used his hosting hour to have a serious conversation about male culture, masculinity and why bush felt compelled to join in the conversation with Trump and keep going even after Trump confessed to sexual assault.
The Today Show could have spent an hour a day for a week with Billy Bush examining these issues through conversations with other men and experts. He could have continued that conversation over time by regularly interviewing people and talking about masculinity, how it has changed, how he has changed, how we need to keep changing it.
He could have brought on dads to talk about care giving and the changing role of fathers. He could have brought on people like Josh Levs to talk about workplace policies to support dads and other men who take on caregiving roles. Maybe they could have convened a group of men to have a regular and honest conversation about issues that men really are concerned with, like love and relationships, our fathers and our own parenting, work and life and trying to balance them. And yes, they could have talked about women and girls and demonstrated through example what a respectful conversation by men about women looks like.
If they were to do that, I would figure out a way to watch the show and they would gain me as a viewer.Was firing Billy Bush from @TheTodayShow the right decision or were there other options?Click To Tweet
Instead of taking advantage of the situation to have a real conversation about masculinity and the toxic aspects of masculine stereotypes that lead to rape culture and helping to shift us to a healthier definition of what it is to be a man, NBC has fired Billy Bush to protect their brand and their show.
The battle of the sexes continues, men will continue to objectify women and we will all continue to be poisoned by an archaic definition of manhood.