‘I’m sick of it’: Jess blasts Karl
JESSICA Rowe has come out swinging in defense of "dear friend" Georgie Gardner, following New Idea's publication of details of the Stefanovic brothers' frank late night phone call in their current issue.
Speaking on Studio 10 this morning, Rowe said Karl and Peter Stefanovic should not be considered "victims" in the increasingly messy saga, with allegations Karl vented his frustration at new Today co-host Gardner, who he accused of "sitting on the fence" and not having enough opinions.
"Georgie's one of my dearest friends... the phone call shouldn't have been recorded, or whatever, but I don't think these two [Karl and Peter Stefanovic] are victims. If you have nothing nice to say about someone, do it behind closed doors. Do not do it on speakerphone where people are listening."
Rowe, who exited the Nine Network in 2007 amid allegations that then-Nine CEO Eddie McGuire had privately said she needed to be "boned" from the network, went on to praise Gardner, who took on the role of Today co-host this year after Lisa Wilkinson's dramatic departure from the network.
"Georgie is an incredible journalist, she is not neutral about anything, she's strong, she's committed, she's passionate. I'm sick of blokes saying negative things about women," she said.
Fellow panellist Angela Bishop pointed out that the pair had apologised, and Karl had been effusive in his praise of Gardner in his apology statement.
"As they should have... as he should be," said Rowe.
Radio host Em Rusciano is among the other industry figures weighing in on the Stefanovic brothers' Uber phone call, saying she'd be "stuffed" if something similar happened to her.
Speaking with Grant Denyer and Ed Kavalee on the trio's 2DayFM breakfast radio show this morning, Rusciano slammed both the driver who took details of the Stefanovics' frank late-night chat to the media - and New Idea, who ran the driver's story in this week's issue.
"The whole thing's shaky. New Idea: gross. To the Uber driver: dude, come on. Your job is to drive, not destroy people's careers and lives," said Rusciano, who did question why Peter Stefanovic would have his brother on speakerphone for such an apparently frank conversation: "It's almost like they were putting on a performance for the driver. I certainly wouldn't have a private conversation in a car with a driver I didn't know."
"[But] there but for the grace of god go every single human. Think to yourself, and be honest, if you were recorded talking in a moment you thought was private ... about a colleague, about your mum, about your husband, your mother-in-law, your kids - are you telling me you could be recorded at any time and you'd be clean? 'Cause I'd be stuffed. I bitch about everyone! We all do, because it's how we vent as humans," Rusciano continued.
Co-host Grant Denyer, a breakfast television veteran after years on Seven's Sunrise program, argued that the details of the call appealed to the "voyeur" in all of us.
"A lot of people would like to hear a bit of gossip, particularly when these guys are so squeaky clean on television and in most people's view are very well compensated for being famous. We like to hear a grittier side sometimes. But it's illegal for a reason," he said.
Rusciano suggested that Karl Stefanovic's Today co-host Georgie Gardner, who was allegedly a topic of discussion during the phone call, wouldn't have been shocked by its contents.
"I don't think Georgie would be surprised. And I wonder, if she got recorded, what Georgie says about Karl. I don't think this is one-way street. Anyone who works with that man, if they were recorded ..."
Other Australian media identities have weighed in on the story, with comedian and radio broadcaster Matt Okine labelling the anonymous Uber driver a "fkn dog":
In this week's issue of New Idea, the driver denied reports he'd recorded the conversation, which is illegal, claiming instead that he simply remembered the details.
According to him, Nine's golden boy Karl - who reportedly earns $2 million a year - vented his frustration at new Today co-host Gardner, who he accused of "sitting on the fence" and not having enough opinions. The driver claims Karl became angry as he declared that she needed to "step up" if she "wanted to stay on the show."
It's also claimed that Karl complained that entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins was monopolising that space, and "kept all the entertainment contacts close to his chest."
The Stefanovics both issued apologies over the weekend as speculation swirled about what exactly had been said during the conversation.
"We talk a hundred times a day and hardly ever about work," Karl said according to the Sunday Telegraph. "But we did, and the conversation was recorded. And we are sorry. I was angry with myself at first that I could be so stupid."
Peter also apologised for the conversation.
"I did a silly thing and feel awful for any embarrassment I've brought to my (Channel 9) colleagues, who I deeply respect," he said.