- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Addressing the proverbial elephant in the studio, “Today” show host Matt Lauer told viewers of Tuesday’s edition of NBC’s morning show that Billy Bush was no longer with the network.

“NBC News announced last night that Billy Bush would be leaving the Today show effective immediately, noting that he was a valued colleague and longtime member of the broader NBC family,” Mr. Lauer said, USA Today reported. “A statement Billy released separately last night read in part, ‘I look forward to what lies ahead.’ And, of course, all of us here at Today wish Billy the very best.”

Mr. Bush, a first cousin of Donald Trump’s erstwhile primary rival Jeb Bush, finds himself a casualty of a 2005 audio recording in which he, then with “Access Hollywood,” humors Mr. Trump when he goes on an extended vulgar riff about his treatment of women.

In a CNN interview aired Monday night, Melania Trump all but blamed Mr. Bush for her husband’s comments, saying the TV host “egged on” Mr. Trump.

Sources close to Mr. Bush had previously hinted that the TV personality might take the network to court if he felt he was unfairly treated in the way NBC terminated the contract.

Mr. Bush’s agent, Marshall Grossman, confirmed to Variety magazine that Mr. Bush is free to work for other TV networks as part of the severance arrangement.

“He is a free agent, and there is no non-compete,” Mr. Grossman told Variety via text message. The agent declined to discuss the financial details of the severance agreement, however, reported Variety.

• Ken Shepherd can be reached at kshepherd@washingtontimes.com.

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