by Gaius Publius
Not long ago, Howie alluded to the timing of the release of the Mark Foley pageboy information as engineered to influence that election. His discussion of Foley is here, in the first few paragraphs. Howie didn't exactly make a parallel to the Trump Tape release, but the implication was there, as I read it.
More recently, Chris Hayes, in a side comment after one of his Trump Tape segments, also brought up the timing of the Mark Foley scandal, but without connecting the dots to the current Trump scandal. Nevertheless, he may well have been very covertly alluding to this coming revelation — that NBC in fact did engineer the timing to alter an electoral outcome. After all, MSNBC's parent is NBC, NBC is at the heart of the story, and Hayes is in position to hear things. If that was Hayes' intention, we'll likely never know, but I was struck by the lack of any explicit connection to the content of that segment, and the presence of this implicit connection.
Now, it seems, TMZ has a source that does connects the dots between the Trump videotape release and its electoral timing. Bottom line: NBC knew about the Trump “pussy” tape (the audio version) as early as last August — learned about it, in fact, from Billy Bush himself — and had intended to time its release for maximum influence on both the election and the Second Presidential Debate.
Here's their story:
NBC Planned to Use Trump Audio to Influence Debate, Election
NBC execs had a plan to time the release of the Donald Trump audio to have maximum impact on both the 2nd presidential debate and the general election … sources connected with the network tell TMZ.
Multiple sources connected with NBC tell us … top network execs knew about the video long before they publicly said they did, but wanted to hold it because it was too early in the election. The sources say many NBC execs have open disdain for Trump and their plan was to roll out the tape 48 hours before the debate so it would dominate the news cycle leading up to the face-off.
As we reported, Billy Bush was bragging about the tape — in front of NBC execs at the Rio Olympics — in early August. NBC says it's only known about the tape for a little more than a week.
We're told the plan was to edit the tape to keep the focus on Trump and not Billy. “Access Hollywood”[,] we're told[,] was not going to air the portion where Trump and Billy got off the bus and Billy goaded Trump and the soap star to hug. Our sources say the tape was going to be “sanitized” to protect Billy as much as possible.
The article goes on to describe how Hurricane Matthew threw off the NBC plan to release the tape, audio only, before the debate — that is, before Sunday. People at the network who wanted to see it out earlier than that, according to this report, leaked it then to the Washington Post, which went with the story. After the Post story came out, Access Hollywood released their version, unsanitized audio and video, and the rest is history.
(That's why, by the way, the Access Hollywood version looked “wrong,” with audio recorded onboard the bus overlaid on shots of the bus from the outside, arriving at its destination. Access Hollywood appears to have combined their video footage with NBC's leaked audio footage, the audio that was recorded on the bus only.)
Clearly, if any or all of this is true, the press has laid a very heavy thumb indeed on the scales of this election. Is this a democracy yet? I'm having trouble figuring that out.
Billy Bush Caught in the Crosshairs
One casualty of this affair, other than Trump, is Billy Bush, who's recently been suspended. Of course, that makes NBC look good, suspending the co-miscreant, but, again according to the report, that wasn't the plan at the start. Recall above that Bush is reportedly the one who revealed the tape's existence to NBC execs in the first place, and the plan was to “sanitize” it to harm only Trump and protect Billy Bush.
Didn't work out that way. Once the Post and then Access Hollywood got the story, the die was cast for Bush. He ended up under the bus he rode in on:
As one source put it, “NBC really screwed Billy. They had no problem with him on the tape 'till it got leaked.” The source goes on to say there was never a peep about disciplining Billy until the full tape got leaked.
Let me help you read that correctly. NBC was fine with every slimy thing Billy Bush did and said on that tape, until it became known. Then they had to pretend they weren't, and Bush paid the price.
This has all the shape of the Wells Fargo scandal writ small. In the bank's case, thousands of employees were driven by executives to commit fraud, then fired to protect those who gave the orders to do it. Here, a daytime TV beta male sucks up to an alpha male in the unseemliest of ways, offers to let his execs use the tape of him doing it to trash the alpha male, then loses his own job when execs blow the timing of the release.
Nevertheless, writ small, Bush made a far bigger splash with his downfall than any of the Wells Fargo employees did with theirs.
Unseemly sells, I guess. Your national “news” media at work.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis