Nine has rubbished claims it paid hush money to Today host Georgie Gardner during the height of March’s Ubergate scandal, describing them as “disgusting” and “completely untrue”.
The pay-off claims first aired in the Seven-owned New Idea, coincidentally the same publication that paid an Uber driver $50,000 to detail a drunken conversation between Peter and Karl Stefanovic where they openly criticised Nine and their colleagues, including Gardner.
According to reports on The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age today (ironically now owned by Nine), Nine’s national director of news and current affairs Darren Wick has been forced to deny claims Gardner was paid to keep quite about the affair that garnered significant media attention at the time.
“I think the allegations are disgusting and they’re completely wrong, they’re completely untrue. There’s no suggestion of us paying anyone,” Wick is quoted as saying. “We don’t do that, I’ve never heard of it being done, it’s just a ludicrous claim.
“It’s an outrageous suggestion, a completely false claim. It’s got no basis in fact whatsoever.”
Wick then described New Idea as not “exactly having a stellar track record with reporting conversations factually”.
Nine declined B&T’s offer to comment further.
During the now infamous Uber ride, Karl is alleged to have called Gardner, his Today co-host, “wishy-washy’’ and a “fence sitter” and reportedly moaned that she was void of any strong opinions.
According to the unnamed Uber driver’s version of events, Karl said that Gardiner “didn’t have enough opinions and he wanted her to step up. 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.”
Stefanovic later said of the infamous Uber ride had caused a fallout at Nine, saying the network “weren’t happy, and upstairs weren’t happy”.
“Whatever comes out of my mouth I’m responsible for, and if that brings the company into disrepute, that’s on me. I accept full responsibility,” he told Kyle and Jackie O’s radio program.