WARNING: This story contains graphic language.
NEW YORK — The videotape of Donald Trump that is shaking up the presidential election sat forgotten on a shelf at NBC’s “Access Hollywood” until just a few days ago.
On Monday, according to an NBC source, one of the entertainment newsmagazine’s producers remembered Trump’s 2005 taping session with former “Access” co-host Billy Bush.
Trump’s offensive comments about Alicia Machado were still making waves. And the Associated Press had just published a detailed story quoting former “Apprentice” employees saying Trump “was lewd and sexist” while taping the reality show.
With that in mind, a producer dug up the tape.
By mid-week, executive producer Rob Silverstein and his producing team had taken a look at its contents, and discovered that among other things it included a moment in which Trump told Bush, “And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
After that, “we were debating what to do” with the tape, an NBC source explained.
By Friday morning, a script had been written. The story was not slated to air on Friday night’s edition of the show, however.
Another NBC source confirmed that “Access” was working on a story, and that NBC News knew about it, but said that as of Friday morning the story “wasn’t quite finalized.”
Billy Bush statement: "Obviously I'm embarrassed and ashamed… I'm very sorry." pic.twitter.com/OTCnzMK1ss
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) October 7, 2016
That’s when Silverstein was notified that David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post had come into possession of a copy.
Fahrenthold has been reporting for months on Trump’s charitable donations and the Trump Foundation.
He asked NBC for comment about the tape around noon Eastern time on Friday.
The producers at “Access,” which is based in California, were blindsided by Fahrenthold’s call.
Contacted by CNNMoney on Friday, Farenthold declined to comment about how he obtained the tape.
But sources at NBC believe someone inside NBC downloaded the footage from one of the network’s video servers. The tape was accessible internally since “Access” was working on its own story about it.
After the Post called NBC for comment, NBC News staff hurried to finish its own story.
The Post published the tape around 4 p.m. NBC News quickly followed up.
Silverstein told Page Six on Friday afternoon, “I don’t know who leaked it. I have no idea.”
Does “Access” have other tapes of Trump speaking in vulgar terms? One of the NBC sources said, “Not that I know of.”
Reaction to the leaked video on Twitter was swift:
Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America's face to the world.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) October 8, 2016
If there was a popular male equivalent experience, being #grabbedbythepussy would be cause for capital punishment.
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) October 8, 2016
This kind of behavior is disgusting. It makes me sick to my stomach. https://t.co/mOUKgr6axl
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) October 7, 2016
Make no mistake the comments were wrong and offensive. They are indefensible.
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) October 7, 2016
This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president. https://t.co/RwhW7yeFI2
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 7, 2016
Chairman Reince Priebus —> pic.twitter.com/dPmqAM1ICT
— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) October 7, 2016
As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump's reprehensible comments degrading women.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) October 7, 2016
Trump and Bush. Talking about Nancy O'dell and then Arianne Zucker who are both friends of mine. Vulgar and Disgusting.
— lisa rinna (@lisarinna) October 7, 2016
Trump should be forced to have gender reassignment surgery, just for fun. He can find out what it's like to be on the other side of him.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) October 7, 2016
Donald Trump thinks "when you're a star" you "can do anything" to women? Well you can't make me vote for you, you misogynistic entitled pig.
— Emmy Rossum (@emmyrossum) October 7, 2016
Beyond vile and disgusting.https://t.co/isgIESf9rp
— Barbara Boxer (@BarbaraBoxer) October 7, 2016
LADIES👑WE R NOT DISPOSABLE BLOW UP DOLLS,4RICH MENS PLEASURE.I HAD SCARY EXPERIENCE W/RICH IMPORTANT FILM PROD.& I WAS CHER‼️
I WANTED JOB😥
— Cher (@cher) October 7, 2016