Mara Siegler and Emily Smith | Page 6,
NBC thought it would derail Trump.
The infamous “Access Hollywood” tape — in which President Donald Trump bragged about grabbing women by the hoo-ha — was an inside job, leaked by an NBC News staffer on Billy Bush’s own “Today” show, multiple sources tell Page Six.
“The tape was leaked by the NBC News division, by somebody at the ‘Today’ show,” says one source. “NBC News knew for a while about the existence of the tape. Billy himself had told them about it. People in the news division became frustrated that ‘Access Hollywood’ was taking too long to air it and decided it had to come out.”
“Access” had been working on airing a sanitized version of the tape, which revealed Trump’s comments but protected Bush by editing out his. But the full tape, which was leaked to the Washington Post, featured Bush goading the president. The leak got Bush fired from “Today,” which was, according to the source, part of the plan.
“The leaked tape served a dual purpose: It helped get Bush out of the way — Matt Lauer didn’t like him and felt he was a liability — and NBC thought it would derail Trump,” says the source. “But all it did was crush Billy, and, ironically, his own network was behind it.”