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Billy Bush says Trump 'Access Hollywood' tape is real in scathing op-ed

Former "Access Hollywood" and "Today" host Billy Bush is back in the spotlight.

In a scathing New York Times op-ed published Sunday, Bush said the 2005 tape that captured now-President Donald Trump making explicit comments about groping women is real.

>> 'SNL': Trump meets ghosts of Flynn, Billy Bush, Putin, Hillary Clinton in 'Christmas Carol' parody

"Of course he said it," wrote Bush, who was heard laughing and egging on Trump in the hot-mic audio that surfaced during the 2016 election. "And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America's highest-rated bloviator."

Bush said he and the seven other witnesses on the bus during the recording assumed Trump was just performing.

>> Billy Bush hospitalized after being hit on the head with a golf ball

"We now know better," Bush wrote.

Bush, who was fired from his job as a "Today" host last year in wake of the controversy, said he believes the women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct after the tape surfaced.

"To these women: I will never know the fear you felt or the frustration of being summarily dismissed and called a liar, but I do know a lot about the anguish of being inexorably linked to Donald Trump," Bush wrote. "You have my respect and admiration. You are culture warriors at the forefront of necessary change."

>> Read more trending news

The editorial came amid reports that Trump is now privately questioning the tape's authenticity, even though he previously apologized for his comments.

"President Trump is currently indulging in some revisionist history, reportedly telling allies, including at least one United States senator, that the voice on the tape is not his," Bush wrote. "This has hit a raw nerve in me."

Read the full op-ed here.

Photos: Kennedy Center Honors 2017

Carmen de Lavallade, Norman Lear, Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J and Lionel Richie were recognized at the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump did not attend.

'SNL': Trump meets ghosts of Flynn, Billy Bush, Putin, Hillary Clinton in 'Christmas Carol' parody

"Saturday Night Live" gave President Donald Trump's White House a "Christmas Carol" spin in the latest episode's cold open.

>> Trump reacts to Flynn's guilty plea by slamming Hillary Clinton, 'rigged system'

In the sketch, which quickly shot to the top spot on YouTube's trending videos list early Sunday, Alec Baldwin's Trump got a holiday visit from "Ghost of Witness Flipped" Michael Flynn (Mikey Day), Billy Bush (Alex Moffat), Russian President Vladimir Putin (Beck Bennett) and Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon).

>> Read more trending news

"You have no idea how long I've wanted to say this: Lock him up!" McKinnon's Clinton said while pointing at Flynn (Day) and cackling.

>> Click here or scroll down to watch (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised)

Matt Lauer won't get multimillion-dollar payout from NBC, report says

Fired NBC host Matt Lauer’s contract called for him to receive tens of millions of dollars, but it doesn’t look like the network will be paying him another dime after firing him for sexual misconduct in the workplace.

>> Matt Lauer responds to sexual misconduct allegations

The former “Today” personality “will not be paid past his last day of work,” according to a senior NBC source who spoke with CNN on Friday.

Rumors have been swirling that Lauer’s lawyers would likely fight for him to get a large payout. It was predicted that the payout could be around $30 million, considering the fact that he made about $20 million a year to host “Today” and that his contract had been extended through the first half of 2019. According to the source, however, the network will not agree to a payout, as television news contracts typically include a morals clause.

>> On Rare.us: Geraldo Rivera responds after Bette Midler accused him of groping her 40 years ago

It’s also unlikely that Lauer himself will lobby too hard for the payout, according to two people close to him, given that he has likely already been paid well over $100 million during his time at NBC. He reportedly accepted the network’s decision to terminate his contract and expressed remorse during his firing late Tuesday.

The bombshell news was announced by Lauer’s co-host, Savannah Guthrie, with the help of Hoda Kotb during an emotional episode of “Today” on Wednesday morning. 

>> Read more trending news

The following day, Lauer addressed the controversy in a statement:

"There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC. Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly. Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching, and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It’s been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace."

Actor Jim Nabors dies at 87

Actor Jim Nabors, best known for his role as Gomer Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show," has died, according to reports. He was 87.

>> Read more trending news

TV producer Phil Arnone confirmed the death to WBRC on Thursday.

Matt Lauer responds to sexual misconduct allegations

Former "Today" show co-host Matt Lauer, who was fired from NBC on Wednesday amid sexual misconduct allegations, issued a response Thursday morning to the accusations against him.

>> Matt Lauer fired over allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior

>> PHOTOS: Matt Lauer through the years

>> Click here or scroll down for more

>> Read more trending news 

New Matt Lauer accuser says he sexually assaulted her in his office, New York Times reports

Following the firing of NBC’s Matt Lauer amid sexual misconduct allegations, the network has received two additional complaints about him, including one from a former NBC employee who accused Lauer of sexually assaulting her in his office in 2001, the New York Times reports.

>> WATCH: Matt Lauer grills Bill O'Reilly about sexual harassment allegations in recent interview

According to the woman, Lauer began making inappropriate comments to her shortly after starting at NBC in the 1990s, the Times reported. While traveling with him for a story, he allegedly asked her inappropriate questions over dinner, including whether she had ever cheated on her husband. She said he later sat uncomfortably close to her in the car on the way to the airport and told her she was “no fun” when she moved away from him.

>> Geraldo Rivera apologizes after tweeting defense of Matt Lauer

The woman said Lauer called her to his office in 2001 to discuss a story, the Times reported. Once there, she said he locked the door – which he could reportedly do with a button under his desk – and told her to unbutton her blouse, which she did. He then stepped out from behind his desk, pulled her pants down and had sex with her, according to the woman, who said she passed out with her pants down and woke up on his office floor. Lauer’s assistant then took her to see a nurse, she said.

>> Matt Lauer fired over allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior

Following the incident, the anchor reportedly never made an advance toward her again or spoke of what happened, the woman told the Times. While she didn’t report the incident at the time out of fear of losing her job, she did tell her then-husband and a friend, both of whom confirmed to the Times that they had heard her story. On Wednesday, the incident was reported to NBC after the woman told her then-supervisor. She has since been contacted by the network’s human resources department, the report said.

>> Read more trending news

Read more here.

Matt Lauer fired over allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior

Television host Matt Lauer has been fired from NBC’s “Today” show after a colleague complained that he engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace, network officials said Wednesday.

>> PHOTOS: Matt Lauer through the years

NBC News chairman Andy Lack said in a memo sent to staff that the company received the complaint on Monday and moved swiftly to terminate Lauer's employment.

>> Read more trending news 

"While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he's been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident," Lack said.

>> Click here or scroll down for more 

WATCH: Matt Lauer grills Bill O'Reilly about sexual harassment allegations in recent interview

Wednesday morning began with a bombshell announcement from NBC as they revealed that Matt Lauer was fired amid sexual misconduct allegations. In September, Lauer scored a coveted interview with Bill O’Reilly just after the Fox News star’s fall from fame amid similar allegations.

>> Watch the interview here

In the interview, Lauer took a tough line of questioning with O’Reilly, repeatedly asking about the sexual harassment accusations against him. At one point, he asked O’Reilly point blank, “Did you ever send a lewd text or email to another employee at Fox News?” Moments later, he followed up by asking O’Reilly about Fox making financial settlements with women accusing the host of sexual harassment.

>> Geraldo Rivera apologizes after tweeting defense of Matt Lauer

The interview continued in a tense vein; when Lauer asked O’Reilly if he had done any “soul searching,” the former Fox News icon replied, “My conscience is clear.” O’Reilly insisted that the decision to let him go from the network was purely a business move and blamed left-wing groups like Media Matters for his downfall. He went on to say, “This was a hit job, a political and financial hit job.”

>> Matt Lauer fired over allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior

At the time, the "Today" host was praised for not giving O’Reilly any easy questions, but the Washington PostMashable and other news outlets pointed out Wednesday that the interview looks a lot different now given the allegations against Lauer.

>> Read more trending news

Read more here.

Geraldo Rivera apologizes after tweeting defense of Matt Lauer

Following Matt Lauer’s bombshell firing Wednesday from NBC amid sexual misconduct allegations, a well-known Fox News host came to his defense.

>> Matt Lauer fired over allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior

“Sad about @MLauer great guy, highly skilled & empathetic w guests & a real gentleman to my family & me,” Geraldo Rivera tweeted later that afternoon. “News is a flirty business & it seems like current epidemic of #SexHarassmentAllegations may be criminalizing courtship & conflating it w predation.”

>> See the tweet here

After receiving backlash for the tweet, Rivera went on to defend his comments.

>>  Here's what to do if you are sexually harassed at work

“A jerk’s a jerk in dating. #SexHarassment should be confined to situations where superior imposes himself on subordinate who feels unable to complain because of power of perp or feared consequences to victim’s employment. Shouldn’t be used to get even w bad bosses or hated ex’s,” he wrote in one before continuing, “Heard well-regarded women in media today suggesting morning shows go to an all-female format. That should be as unacceptably retro as the other way around.”

Rivera then outlined the requirements he believes sexual harassment allegations should meet before they’re taken seriously.

>> Matt Lauer firing has people wondering what Tamron Hall, Ann Curry are up to

“#SexHarassment allegations should require: 1-made in a timely fashion-say w/n 5 yrs. 2-some contemporaneous corroboration, like witnesses, electronic or written communications. W $ settlements in multi-millions slight chance exists some victims are motivated by more than justice,” he tweeted and then added, “This issue is so red hot right now there is no room for any thought or opinion but hang em high. If News wasn’t (formerly) a flirty biz then how do we explain so many newsroom courtships that have led to happy marriages?”

Following uproar surrounding Rivera’s tweets, Fox News released the following statement:

Late Wednesday, Rivera apologized for his comments.

>> Matt Lauer fired: A timeline of his career

"Reaction to my tweets today on #sexharassment makes clear I didn't sufficiently explain that this is a horrendous problem long hidden," he wrote, calling harassers "deviants who deserve what is coming to them."

>> Read more trending news

He continued: "Often victims are too frightened to come forward in a timely fashion. I humbly apologize."

>> See the apology here

Read more here.

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

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