She’s the woman Donald Trump tried to “move” on “very heavily”—“like a bitch”—and “failed.” The one he tried to “fuck” when she was married to another man. He even took her furniture shopping, but he “couldn’t get there.” Today, Nancy O’Dell is the host of Entertainment Tonight.
The decade-old tape of Trump’s comments, including boasts about grabbing women “by the pussy,” first emerged Friday afternoon. By Monday night, O’Dell was back on the air at ET.
“I feel it’s very important that I address you all directly,” O’Dell said on ET. “As a journalist for 26 years now, it is my job to bring you news about others, rather than turning the focus on myself. But by now, I’m sure that most of you have heard the audio tape which became national news and part of the presidential race. My name was mentioned and, unfortunately, the release of it has thrown me into the middle of the political arena of which I didn’t ask to be a part.”
“I released a statement on Saturday and I truly mean what I said,” she continued. “There is no room for objectification of women, or anybody for that matter, not even in the ‘locker room.’”
“The conversation has got to change, because everybody deserves respect, no matter the gender or setting,” she added. “As a mom, I have to add that our kids, especially our young girls, need to know that their hard work, their achievements, their intelligence, their heart are most important.”
O’Dell went on thank viewers from their support, saying she has been “flooded with your messages from around the world” and that “they are completely renewing my faith that we all want a better and more inclusive society.”
As she mentioned, O’Dell released a brief statement Saturday on ET’s website that did not reference Trump or the man he was “locker room bantering” with, since-suspended Today show host Billy Bush, but did say she was “saddened” by what she heard. “When I heard the comments yesterday, it was disappointing to hear such objectification of women,” added. “The conversation needs to change because no female, no person, should be the subject of such crass comments, whether or not cameras are rolling.”
It was not originally clear whether or not O’Dell would be in the anchor chair Monday or if she would address the tape on-air. But in the end, it was just the type of salacious story the show could not ignore, even if it did center on one of their own. As of mid-afternoon on Monday, Billy Bush’s suspension from the Today show was the top story on ET’s website. O’Dell’s name was listed as one of the day’s trending topics alongside Kristen Stewart and Bruno Mars.
O’Dell has a long history with Trump, most notably as co-host of his Miss USA pageants with—who else?—Billy Bush. The latest revelations about Trump’s one-sided pursuit also led to the reemergence of a story from 2007 in which he reportedly tried to fire her because he didn’t like what she looked like pregnant. Now we know there may have been even worse motivations behind that effort, which was also unsuccessful.
But while O’Dell was forceful in her denunciation of Trump’s comments, she was careful in both her written and taped statements not to wade too deeply into the “political arena.” She did not say she would be voting for Hillary Clinton, nor did she urge viewers to vote against the man who “objectified” her so graphically years ago.
Like Clinton, O’Dell decided to go “high” where Trump went “low” and let the Republican candidate’s words and actions speak for themselves.