Details of an explosive telephone conversation between Channel Nine stars and brothers Karl and Peter Stefanovic have finally been revealed.
Last week, a Sydney Uber driver came forward suggesting he’d recorded a 45-minute conversation of Karl on speakerphone while an “intoxicated” Peter and his wife – fellow Nine personality, Sylvia Jeffreys – were in the back seat of the car.
The driver sold the conversation to (the Channel Seven-owned) New Idea for a reported $50,000, the women’s glossy magazine publishing details of the conversation in its latest issue out today.
However, the magazine has claimed the driver merely regaled details of the conversation because it is illegal to record a conversation without permission. The driver has since “vehemently” denied he taped the conversation.
According to the article, the brothers launched an extraordinary attack on Karl’s Today colleague Georgie Gardner, its flagship current affairs program 60 Minutes, Nine management and other on-air talent at the network.
Interestingly, the subject was studiously avoided on this morning’s episode of Today.
On Gardner, Karl said his new co-host was “wishy-washy’’ and a “fence sitter” and apparently moaned that she was void of any strong opinions.
The driver telling New Idea: “He (Karl) said she didn’t have enough opinions and he wanted her to step up,’’ explains the driver. ‘He actually sounded angry and said he was going to start pushing hard and that she needed to do that if she wanted to stay on the show.”
Karl also complained about Today’s entertainment host, Richard Wilkins, who he said had monopolised the space and not shared contacts with other reporters.
He then lashed Nine’s flagship current affairs program 60 Minutes that had suffered dwindling ratings of late and, according to the driver’s account was due to Nine bosses who “didn’t know anything and … are out of touch”.
For his part, Peter, who hosts Today Weekend, apparently “hated” working at Nine, primarily because the network repeatedly ignored ideas he’d bought forward for stories on 60 Minutes. Karl reportedly telling his younger brother that he needed to demand $60,000 from the network and “not to take no for an answer.”
Peter then added, “he hated his job so much that he often takes it out on wife Sylvia”.
The younger Stefanovic also had a dig at veteran Nine journalist Mark Burrows, who he said had looked down on him.
Over the weekend, both brothers issued an apology for the conversation. A statement, published on the Nine website Nine Honey, said the two had personally apologised to Channel Nine bosses and Karl’s Today show co-host Georgie Gardner.
Peter said in the statement: “I did a silly thing and feel awful for any embarrassment I’ve brought to my colleagues, who I deeply respect.
“I have spoken directly to the people involved and have offered my sincerest apologies as I have been raised to do. Do something wrong, apologise, and try to move on.
“It is embarrassing to not only get myself into this situation but also my big brother, and the network.
“There’s nothing quite like having all your insecurities out there for people to see and read.
“I am now investing in a hands free ear piece, and I gave the driver one star – but only because you can’t give a zero,” Peter said.
For his part, Karl said: “Pete and I were guilty of having a spray after a Sunday BBQ. We talk a hundred times a day and hardly ever about work. Mainly about his terrible golf. But we did and the conversation was recorded. And we are sorry.
“For the record Georgie Gardner is killing it as well. She’s the best thing to happen to the show in years. She’s hungry, she’s working hard and making the show better every day. I love working with her. Anyone says differently, they don’t know.
“P.S. I’ll be taking cabs from now on,” Karl added.