Ted Cruz Made an Interesting Point About Trump's Leaked Tape

October 9th 2016

Aron Macarow

All eyes are on the Republican party leadership and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign for responses to the ongoing Donald Trump tape scandal. But one GOP party member is pointing the finger at the media — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Cruz asked in a tweet Sunday why NBC took so long to release the now infamous audio of GOP presidential nominee Trump's lewd behind-the-scenes remarks to "Access Hollywood's" then-host, Billy Bush. The Texas senator intimated that the network intentionally withheld the recording:

Some people think it's a great question.

The timing of the leak — two days before the second of three nationally televised presidential debates — looks bad for the Trump campaign, but there are flaws in any NBC conspiracy theory.

NBC may no longer have "The Apprentice" tapes.

Cruz makes a good point that releasing the "Access Hollywood" audio earlier may have altered the course of the election.

But his second comment about "The Apprentice" tapes may be off base. An unnamed NBC source told Politico that "Apprentice" tapes are not owned by NBC but rather by the show's producer, Mark Burnett, who is a friend and supporter of Trump.

"We don't own the footage. We're pursuing it along with every other news organization reporting on this story," NBC told Politico on Saturday.

Will "Apprentice" footage be leaked just like the "Access Hollywood" clip?

Not likely, according to Chris Nee, a producer who did not work on "The Apprentice" but who has signed contracts for projects with Burnett in the past.

Nee tweeted Sunday that the "leak fee" on Burnett contracts is $5 million.

Someone who signed such a contract would incur that hefty penalty if he or she shared unaired footage from "The Apprentice," suggesting that we're unlikely to see anything unless Burnett himself wants to release it. And it looks like the powerful production company head has little desire to do so.

Burnett "is pro-Trump and has made clear to his teams that he will sue anyone who leaks," a person close to Burnett told BuzzFeed News.

But that isn't stopping tweets from people who have been affiliated with Burnett, such as Bill Pruitt, a television producer who worked on "The Apprentice" in 2004 and 2005:

Even if the public doesn't get to see the footage, there's still someone we can blame for Trump's campaign going on as long as it has: Ted Cruz.

Cruz endorsed Trump two weeks ago, after holding out for most of the general election season, and he remains a supporter, even as many Republican party leaders have bailed on him in recent days. Republicans who supported Trump in earlier days despite his offensive statements about immigrants, Muslims, and women are now pulling back, but not Cruz.

Is it fair to blame NBC for not airing the "Access Hollywood" recordings sooner? Or should we point fingers at the GOP for not denouncing Trump's egregious statements sooner?

The answer for Trump critics on Twitter was clear:

ATTN: has reached out to Cruz's office for comment, and we will update this story when we receive a response.