Nobody Cares, But NBC Has Been Wildly Unethical In The Trump-Bush Video Affair

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NBC deserves to be condemned for its conduct in many ways in reference to the Trump Pussy Tape episode, going back eleven years.

1. NBC technicians allowed Trump to continue talking without his realizing that his microphone was on. Unethical, and unprofessional, as well as a pure Golden Rule violation. Basic decency, fairness and professionalism requires that when a guest is doing this, his mistake must be  made known to him at the earliest possible time. This is the rule when someone continues to speak on a conference call believing the call has ended. It is the ethical thing to do  when you are in a bathroom stall and your opponents in a law suit start discussing strategy while they are washing their hands. I have several times, at taped seminars, begun to answer questions during a break and realized that I was still being recorded. Sometimes a technician has reminded me. Worse (but funnier) I have done a full “Naked Gun”, using the Men’s Room while wearing a live mic…and the technician dashed in to get me to turn it off, just in time. (Well, almost.) Allowing a guest to embarrass himself on tape as Trump did is despicable and unprofessional in every way.

2. NBC betrayed its own employee, Billy Bush, by not alerting him, either.  Disloyal, unfair, and uncaring.

3. Once the recording was made, it should have been destroyed as soon as anyone in authority realized the participants were speaking without knowing the mics were on.

4. Attorney Robert Barnes makes a compelling argument that NBC’s conduct violated California Penal Code 632, which criminalizes the act of any person who “without the consent of all parties” records their conversations. Of course, violating the law is also unethical. Trump might  have a just lawsuit, though the damage can’t be undone: the pussy’s out of the bag, so to speak.

5. Bush, as an NBC employee, should have been told about the recording and its contents long, long before it was made public. NBC was obligated to inform him as a basic courtesy.

6. When the video was discovered in the archives years later, they should have been destroyed at that time, even though Trump’s status had changed and he was a Presidential candidate. It was—barely–newsworthy, but the fact that it was unethical for NBC to make it and keep it had not changed in the eleven years. The video should not have been available, and NBC still had its original obligation to make it unavailable. An unethical party cannot ethically benefit from from its failure to act ethically at an earlier time.

7. Now the Today Show has suspended Billy Bush  indefinitely , for the way a recording— that was unethical to make, that he should have been told about, that may have been illegal, that should not have been saved—represents him to the public. It has little choice but to do this now, since he is damaged goods, perhaps permanently. Still, they damaged him and the fault is theirs, not Bush’s. The network has an ethical to be accountable and to do its utmost to rehabilitate his career and reputation from the harm NBC caused.

It won’t.

8. Worse, NBC is attempting to make Bush, who is a victim here, a villain. “Let me be clear: There is simply no excuse for Billy’s language and behavior on that tape,” the show’s producer wrote to staffers. Really? What was he supposed to do? He was an NBC employee, and Trump was a guest on a network show, blathering on in characteristically repulsive fashion. Bush’s job was to be nice, maybe recruit Trump for an interview on his own show, “Access Hollywood,” and build rapport with a celebrity NBC might have future dealings with. He didn’t have the authority to throw Trump off the set. He couldn’t slap Trump in the face and proclaim, “You, sir, are an unmannerly cur! Leave my sight!”

Yes, the ideal response would be to say, “Mr. Trump, I’m not comfortable with this kind of talk (that I hear all day, every day, from the show business jerks I work with), so please stop,” though given Trump’s instability, this would entail considerable professional and personal risk. Instead, Bush reasoned, “OK, its just us, and this isn’t being recorded; it doesn’t do any harm to let him talk.”

It shouldn’t have, either. Billy was the victim of moral luck, as well as NBC.

9. Billy’s “inexcusable language” consisted of two sentences: “Sheesh, your girl’s hot as shit,” and “Oh, that’s good legs.” The Horror. There is worse language than that all over TV, 24 hours a day. It is “inexcusable” to say “shit?” Or comment on a woman’s legs?  In show business?  The Vice -President of the United States never apologized for saying “big fucking deal” on a hot mic: should Obama have suspended him?

Verdict: Trump’s conduct, though revolting, wasn’t the most unethical in this episode. NBC’s was, and the network was also 100% responsible for it occurring.

And it is milking it for all it’s worth.

15 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Workplace

15 responses to “Nobody Cares, But NBC Has Been Wildly Unethical In The Trump-Bush Video Affair

  1. Ok Jack; what part of the Progressive/Liberal/Democratic Party, “the ends justify the means”, modus operandi to manipulate the court of public opinion do you not fully understand? 😉

  2. Sharon

    NBC knew of this tape. If Bush’s conduct was bad enough to get him fired now, why wasn’t the conduct bad enough to get him fired when it actually happened?

    Maybe NBC should be the one in trouble they had a “sexual predator” working for them for years and did nothing about it. And for the record, I don’t believe Bush should have been fired. What a bunch of whimps.

  3. Can’t wait to see what kind of attack dog, character smearing, bombshell will be unleashed against Trump in the first week of November. At that point in time no one will likely give a damn whether it’s truthful or not, and after the election is complete and the winner (Clinton) is announced, what difference at that point will it make?

    You will be assimilated into the Progressive way of thinking; resistance is futile.

    I firmly believe that the corrupt Clinton political machine will be “elected” and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do to stop it.

  4. I’m still not exactly seeing how the advancement of a political party fully in bed with manipulating journalism and education to a degree than Lenin only dreamt about, and rapidly pulling the legal profession on board to a monolithic big brother government is a better option to vote for than a buffoon who can’t shut his mouth…

    Whatever. When the smoke clears I’ll be someone who’s hands will be clean of both candidates when it’s time to start fixing the mess that Bane or the Joker leave us.

    • Well, I’d begin with over-selling Hillary’s ideological objectives (the leaked speech sections are more accurate regrading her real orientation than her current rhetoric. At heart she’s a soulless opportunist without true principles, but left of center more than left); then I’d point out that the news media is going to pay up big time for its crash in the election; THEN I’d point out that the mess Obama has left will make any successor look bad, Hillary more than most, and finally, that your description of Trump as a loudmouth clown is so kind as to be deceptive. You know he’s a lot worse than a loudmouth buffoon. Teddy Roosevelt could be a buffoon. Some loudmouths are brilliant.

      • Well, I’d begin with over-selling Hillary’s ideological objectives (the leaked speech sections are more accurate regrading her real orientation than her current rhetoric. At heart she’s a soulless opportunist without true principles, but left of center more than left);

        Yet as leader of the ideology that would love nothing more than a bolshevik revolution here she isn’t going to do anything to slow their roll and stop their tightening the noose around American liberty, regardless of how close to “center” she is.

        “then I’d point out that the news media is going to pay up big time for its crash in the election;”

        I’m not sure what this means. Some also said they’d pay big for going all in on Obama. But they’ve been going all in on Leftists since FDR and a comeuppance still seems long due…

        “THEN I’d point out that the mess Obama has left will make any successor look bad, Hillary more than most,”

        Ok, still doesn’t mean she won’t just be the next Obama in terms of continuing the progressive slide towards despotism and pseudo-fascist cronyism

        “and finally, that your description of Trump as a loudmouth clown is so kind as to be deceptive. You know he’s a lot worse than a loudmouth buffoon. Teddy Roosevelt could be a buffoon. Some loudmouths are brilliant.”

        Well I find him absolutely deplorable. But if we had to deal with sweeping up the mess the Joker leaves behind and trying to untangle the noose of totalitarianism than Bane leaves behind, I think sweeping is a hell of a lot easier. The only thing is, I think both routes still leave us precisely where the progressive camp wants us… ready for a true full on nanny state.

  5. Alexander Cheezem

    I’m going to have to disagree with you regarding Billy Bush, as characterized in parts 8 and 9.

    First off, he wasn’t suspended for “inexcusable language”. He was suspended for language and behavior — in other words, not just what he said, but also what he did.

    And that conduct was… bad. The worst, and most gut-wrenchingly nauseating, moment of that video wasn’t Trump’s comments, or Billy’s jocking around with him during them. It was when they got out of the van and Billy not only kept playing around with Trump, but encouraged the very woman they’d just been objectifying and joking about sexually assaulting to hug him.

    I literally lack words to adequately describe that moment. Just… go back and watch the video, keeping your eyes on it.

    It continued downhill from there, with Bush and Trump basically playing with Zucker sexually and using her as the punchline for an incredibly sick joke that only they got. Zucker was supposed to be Bush’s coworker and colleague. They treated her as… ugh. I meant it when I said I lack words.

    This isn’t about Bush playing around with Trump. It’s about how he treats his female colleagues… and if I were a woman at NBC, I wouldn’t feel safe around him. That alone meant that they needed to take this seriously.

    (Nevermind that Bush apparently has a loooong history of being very, very creepy with women on-camera. I don’t think that’s terribly relevant here… except, of course, that the recording paints the whole thing in a very, very unfavorable light. Actually, no — in as far as that all of his female coworkers are going to be looking at that history and seeing it in that light, it isn’t.)

    • That’s a fascinating take, AC. I didn’t even focus on the fact that the actress was the same one they had been talking about; it didn’t occur to me, as I was focusing on Trump as the main figure and Bush as an enabler.

      But still, you are essentially saying that Bush should be suspended by not just common but routine and accepted —in his culture AND NBC’s—show biz creepiness. heck, I’ve seen that kind of thing in community theater, and it gets worse as the money increases. Zucker was playing her own game, pretending she didn’t know Trump, acting friendly and flirty, using come-on terms of affection, being coy. OK, Bush was enjoying an inside joke, so was she (for all we know) and Trump as well.

      The behavior is unacceptable in a President, no question. But for a talk show host?? How can NBC even pretend that this is true? An unconsented to video exposed the slimy culture that NBC wallows in 24-7, and those who suspended Bush know that a similar thing could happen to them and expose exactly as creepy conduct , or worse, every other day.

      You just convinced me that NBC is even worse than I thought. They might as well have suspended Billy for being sycophantic and smarmy.

      • Jack said, “I’ve seen that kind of thing in community theater”

        That sparked some memories from experiences in the theater. I’m going to pick a different approach for a moment.

        I’ve watched the video a number of times and I’ve got a couple of questions:

        1. Why did Trump have a lapel mic to begin with?

        2. Why was there professional cameramen there with professional cameras video them walking from the buss to the studio?

        3. Why did they take Trump’s lapel mic when he was entering the studio area?

        This all seems weirdly preplanned and setup. I think they all knew they were being recorded from the get go and were intentionally putting on a show. Was this conversation encouraged to the point of almost being nearly “scripted” for shock purposes to use on Billy Bush’s show and ended up on the cutting room floor? This came across as a an intentional themed improv skit?

        4. If the things I said above are even remotely possible, why haven’t they said so?

        Ok, discuss…

        • Good questions all. Nonetheless, as stupid as Trump is, even he wouldn’t say those things if he thought he would be seen and heard by anyone who might try to use them against him.

          • Jack Marshall said, “…as stupid as Trump is, even he wouldn’t say those things if he thought he would be seen and heard by anyone who might try to use them against him.”

            Maybe he should have had the foresight to know that he was going to run for President; but in all honesty, if this was more of an improv skit, why would he think that anyone would take it seriously and use it against him and if it was some kind of improv, why hasn’t someone stepped up and said so?

            I’m certainly no Trump supporter; but, there’s something more than meets the eye going on here?

            Conspiracy theory claptrap here: Is Trump intentionally trying to loose now that it’s getting closer to the election?

      • Alexander Cheezem

        … seriously, Jack?

        The two of them were joking about criminal sexual assault. Trump was talking about walking up to her and greeting her by grabbing her genitals. Billy not only encouraged this, but had his (ignorant) coworker actively play into it.

        Zucker was acting playful and flirty, yes… but do you really think she would have if she’d known about those jokes, or that Trump had just taken breath mints just in case he started kissing her (without her permission or consent)?

        Instead, she felt reasonably comfortable with them, leading to what you described as her friendly and flirty behavior… completely unknowing that Trump had just confessed to being a sexual predator to Billy, and brought up that he fully anticipated a realistic possibility of him sexually assaulting her… and Billy thought the appropriate response to this was to give him every opportunity to feel her up and to jokingly send his colleague literally into the arms of a confessed sexual predator.

        I know that’s a bit repetitive. I’m sorry, but it’s necessary. Every single woman at NBC will have heard of this incident. Every single woman there will now know just what sort of person Billy is and how he treats his female colleagues.

        And a whole lot of them will not feel even remotely safe around him because of it. I cannot blame them. His sexual humor and play simply isn’t funny anymore.

        That means that the affair impacts his ability to work with his female colleagues. If NBC wants their female stars to feel safe — physically safe — working for them, they must take action. Otherwise, they’d gain an unavoidable and extremely high-profile reputation for trivializing the sexual assault of their employees.

        That isn’t to say that NBC’s conduct has been ethical. I agree with several of your points — it’s just that I strongly disagree with your assessment of Bush’s conduct in the incident.

        Bush was a villain in this as well as a victim. His misconduct was not mere words. It was not minor… and, because of how high-profile it is, it mechanically cannot be swept under the metaphorical rug.

        • Your vilification of Bush is way beyond the pale, and fairness and compassion as well. I’ve had the job of ushering around awful celebrities for my employers, and have hd to smile and nod as they said horrible things, or, in the alternative, quit my job on the spot. I once had the job of following a proto-Nazi in a huge convention program after he had whipped an audience into a paranoid, anti-Jimmy Carter frenzy using ugly lies. It’s not an easy position to be in, especially when you are young.

          Bush was accommodating and supporting his employer’s guest, who was misbehaving. Bush’s choices were to confront him, dress him down, passively ignore him, or play along for the few minutes involved. I’m sure he was also thinking that making friends with a billionaire celebrity in show business couldn’t hurt. Bush certainly played along too well and enthusiastically, but he absolutely wasn’t hurting anyone, couldn’t possibly see how bantering with Trump could hurt anyone, had no way of knowing that he was being filmed and that his employers would intentionally throw him under the career bus, and is being sacrificed now to satisfy the mob. (Though NBC has little choice at this point.)

          You seriously write: Every single woman at NBC will have heard of this incident. Every single woman there will now know just what sort of person Billy is and how he treats his female colleagues.And a whole lot of them will not feel even remotely safe around him because of it.

          Every single woman at NBC assumes that significant proportion of the men they work with have acted, spoken like and think essentially like the tape shows that Billy Bush did, or pretended to do, or are deluded. If this makes them feel unsafe, they are in the wrong profession. This is a world where men feel that they have a license to kiss and hug any woman they meet, on or off the job, and the women are expected to act like Zucker did on the tape. It’s a disgusting culture, but to pretend that Bush should be a pariah when he is the norm is wildly unfair. Ethics is supposedly what we do when nobody is looking, but the lack of comprehension, or willingness to admit, the context of Bush’s conduct, unattractive as it appears on film stuns me.

  6. Steve

    The reason this didn’t come out before is they were democrats, for NBC it would have been inconceivable to tarnish a democrat, especially one who had some power in NY and donated so much money to the party. This was a strategic release to clearly benifit Hillary Clinton, which further highlights that journalism is dead, it was news worthy, it pertained to the character of a politician running for the highest office, but it was also newsworthy during the primaries, it would have served the American people best then but obviously it was more important to them to hold onto it and use it to serve the Dems at the most effective time. Think of the impact of his own words, not conjecture or hearsay, would have had early on, think of the impact in the general, if it was reported in the primaries. I think most of the media knew what they were doing with Trump would at least hurt the GOP if not actually help Trump win the primaries, a wet dream scenario for them. I think if reported during the primaries it is likely he would not have been the nominee, we will never know if I am correct but I think it is fair to say that NBC’s actions and those similar actions of other media outlets are more responsible for creating this shit sandwich that the American people will have to eat than anyone else.

    I think it can also be declared that the Democratic party now holds the title to being the most corrupt and dishonest party of the two by a wide margin. The Republican party has nothing to be proud of though, through their mismanagement of the primary process they let this weasel become the nominee, the only positive thing that can be said is at least their party seems to have some respect for the democratic process.They could have done more by insuring Trump lost support much earlier by putting more effort into making sure the idiots in the party, which obviously is a large percentage, understood the consequences of their actions instead of humoring Trump. So it is fair to say they hold to the title to the most incompetent party, again by a wide margin.

    In the end it matters very little who wins at this point, these two candidates have shown us just how damaging a mismanaged two party system can be. Either way nearly HALF the nation will be convinced the winning candidate is unworthy of the Office, but the real truth is both of them are unworthy and unfit for the office and we all lose.

  7. Trump has done exactly what many predicted he would do; in the past year he has, and still is, doing things to intentionally divide the Republican Party into smaller segments and pit them against each other, his efforts have destroyed the effectiveness of the Party as a whole and probably destroyed the ability of the Party to do anything for the next 10-20 years. This is the exact same subdividing tactic that the Democratic Party has been using nation wide with race, women, gays, the wealthy, the poor, you name it and they’ve been fanning the flames and ginning up the faux outrage and blaming the resulting chaotic nonsense on Republicans.

    Trump is the too good to be true perfect storm blowing the corrupt Clinton dynasty back into the White House with the steady pounding force of a hurricane. The Clinton’s couldn’t have asked, begged, or fabricated a better opposition candidate.

    Why can’t people see what’d going on?

    When something is too good to be true…

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