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What Stars Do When They Are Caught in Bad Behavior
Television star Billy Bush is the latest well-known person to lose his job after reports of bad behavior.
The American television network, NBC, announced last week that Bush was leaving its popular morning show, “Today.” NBC acted after the release of a 2005 recording of a lewd discussion between him and presidential candidate Donald Trump.
In it, the two spoke in an offensive way about women and took the issue of sexual assault lightly.
The video became public before the second presidential debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Mark Feldstein heads the Broadcast Journalism Department at the University of Maryland.
Feldstein said a television network cannot remain profitable if it keeps Bush on TV following release of remarks that angered many people.
“Because the incident has become so infamous, Bush will never again be able to command the kind of huge television audience he once held on NBC,” Feldstein said.
Bush joins a long list of famous people who lost jobs after bad behavior became public.
In 2011, for example, Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned after it was reported he had used social media to send revealing photos of himself to women.
Anthony Weiner with wife, Huma Abedin, in 2013. Abedin recently announced that the couple is separating.
Why Some Recover from Bad Behavior
Robert Thompson is founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. He said there are many reasons why some people can recover from bad behavior and others never do.
Some of it comes down to how bad the behavior was, he said. But some of the public response is affected by how those shown to have done bad things respond.
One test is how honest they appear when apologizing. Another factor is how much people value what the celebrity did, Thompson said.
Thompson notes that people generally disapprove of the behavior of movie directors Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. Allen married his adopted daughter. Polanski was charged with sexual abuse with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
But millions of people continue to watch their movies.
“Some of it comes down to how good they are at what they do,” Thompson said. “A lot of people feel they make very good movies.”
However, 79-year-old Bill Cosby probably will never recover his reputation, Thompson said. Cosby has been a successful American actor, comedian and writer. But more than 20 women have accused Cosby with sexual assault over 10 years ago. He denies the charges.
But Thompson said there are so many charges that it will be difficult for Cosby. He will probably never win back millions of fans who watched his movies, television shows and attended his comedy shows.
Thompson provides a different example. There was a television star who was able to keep his job and fans after admitting embarrassing behavior.
In 2009, David Letterman spoke directly to the audience of his popular late-night television show. He explained that he had gone to the police and law enforcement about a person who demanded $2 million.
In return for the money, the person promised not to tell the public about Letterman’s affairs with women staffers at his show.
The charges were true, he said.
“I had to tell them all the creepy things I had done,” Letterman said.
Letterman was so honest, Thompson said, that admitting the affairs had little effect on his successful television career.
His Job Is to Help People Accused of Bad Behavior
Eric Schiffer is chairman of Reputation Management Consultants in Los Angeles, California. He helps people in business and entertainment who face fallout from bad behavior.
Schiffer said he would recommend that Billy Bush not make appearances over the coming months. At some point, he said, it would be good if he gave an interview in which he goes further to express regret than he did in his written apology.
It might also help if Bush does some volunteer work. Schiffer said a good choice might be a group that helps women.
Schiffer said one thing Bush might also consider is appearing on the American TV show, “Dancing with the Stars.” It is a popular dance competition show. The show has featured guests who were dealing with bad news stories.
Among the most recent to appear was U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte. Lochte was suspended for 10 months from swimming competitions after police say he made up a story of being robbed at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.
Schiffer said the show permits dancers to show more of their human and fun side.
I’m Bruce Alpert.