The Washington Post’s release of the tape with former “Access Hollywood” reporter Billy Bush, in which Donald Trump makes graphic boasts about women – tantamount to sexual assault – raises two big questions.
First, NBC had this tape at the beginning of last week, so how and why did the network get scooped on material it owned and controlled? And second, will we ever see or hear what could be equally damning tape that is said to exist from Trump’s years as host on “The Apprentice”?
On NBC's delay in releasing the tape:
GUTHRIE: Well, they're saying that the delay was out of legal concerns. They became aware of the tape on Monday after an "Access Hollywood" producer had unearthed it in the archives and they had to take it up to legal because Trump was inside a bus. He may not have known he was mic'ed. California is a two party consent state. So, they got clearance from legal on Thursday. They didn't air a piece on Thursday obviously, and by Friday morning, the Washington post had come in possession of it. It was leaked -- NBC sources have confirmed -- from NBC. They were working on a piece, and so the video or the audio would have been available on internal servers. They say they're not looking for the leaker, so that is how they explained the delay.
SEAGER: Four days does seem a little long to me, but in California we have a law that makes it [so] you can be sued civilly or criminally prosecuted for taping someone without their consent, so I think that was their main concern. But they may have been looking at contracts, talking to people who were on the bus to see whether Trump knew he was mic'ed or not, but it seems pretty incredible to me that Trump didn't know he was mic'ed. I think he had to know he was mic'ed and the mic was on.
On the Washington Post's quick turnaround:
SEAGER: It was an easy call for the Post because they weren't worried about being sued for taping Donald improperly, so they had no legal worries about that whatsoever. So they're back to 'Did we legally get this? Was it given to us lawfully? And is it a matter of public concern?' That's they're sort of two-step analysis. And is this tape real? And they were able to verify it was real, so that was easy for them.
On the possibility that 'far worse' Trump tapes exist:
HORN: Over the weekend, Bill Pruitt, who was a producer on 'The Apprentice' in its early years tweeted:
HORN: What is the standard contract between a broadcast network and a company like Mark Burnett's that produced 'The Apprentice,' that makes and owns the show? Who controls those outtakes? Is it really Mark Burnett's decision?
GUTHRIE: Well, he's said publicly that he is, and I think that's probably what his contract says. He's very powerful, very successful, so he probably had a contract that said he retained the right to those outtakes.
Update: In a statement released to Variety Monday afternoon, Burnett and MGM clarified that MGM, not Burnett, has the power to release outtake footage from "The Apprentice" and that legal requirements "restrict MGM's ability to do so."