It’s been a rocky couple of years for Karl Stefanovic following his divorce from wife Cassandra Thorburn and the drama surrounding comments he made to his brother Peter earlier this year about co-host Georgie Gardner’s credibility.
Claims surfaced over the weekend that the Today show host was about to be sacked from his breakfast TV job, however Nine’s chief executive Hugh Marks has now spoken to The Australian and denied that Stefanovic’s job was at risk, despite falling ratings.
“Clearly, it’s been a tough and challenging year for Karl and Today,” Marks said. “No doubt the constant publicity surrounding issues with his personal life have had an impact on Karl, his colleagues and on the show.
“We can’t hide from that. And as a result we know there’s a lot of hard work to be done to win back the audience.”
Marks went on to say that Today needs to raise its game as the show continues to go head to head against Channel 7’s rival offering Sunrise in the ratings battle. He also praised Stefanovic and Gardner, who joined the show following the departure of Lisa Wilkinson, who moved to Network Ten late last year.
He added: “Karl and Georgie are great broadcasters and, when they’re working as a team, we believe they’re among the best going around.
“Look at the incredible effort by the Today show this year in raising more than $10 million to help our farmers hurting from the drought. They made a big commitment to the community and delivered. That’s what they do better than anyone else. Time and time again.”
Stefanovic divorced his wife of 21 years in October 2016 and has since moved on with shoe designer Jasmine Yarbrough, 34, with the couple busily planning their wedding for later this year.
Stefanovic also made headlines in March when the details of a phone call, in which the presenter could be heard discussing his co-star Gardner, were revealed by an Uber taxi driver who sold his story to a magazine. Stefanovic was reportedly heard slamming Gardner, accusing her of “sitting on the fence” and not having enough opinions on the Today show.
According to New Idea, the driver said: “[Karl] said she 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.”