News, Culture & Society

Embattled host Karl Stefanovic finally breaks his silence following Today show sacking

Axed Today show star Karl Stefanovic, 44, has finally broken his silence after being unceremoniously sacked from his hosting gig of 14 years on Wednesday.

Just hours after the shock announcement was made by Channel Nine, the veteran presenter put on a brave face and tried his best to mask his feelings about being cut from the 2019 breakfast show lineup.

According to The Daily Telegraph, Karl, who is on his honeymoon in Aspen with new wife Jasmine Yarbrough, said: ‘I am looking forward to getting back to the sunshine.’

He speaks! On Thursday, embattled host Karl Stefanovic finally broke his silence following his shock sacking from Nine’s Today show during his honeymoon with new wife Jasmine in Aspen (He is pictured in the ritzy ski resort town last week)

Karl gave the comment while cuddling up to his wife as they continued to celebrate their marriage in the ritzy ski resort town following their lavish Mexico wedding earlier this month.

His comment appeared to make reference to the newlyweds’ likely plans to return to Australia’s Queensland for a secondary honeymoon in the coming week.

His remarks come after Karl said in official network statement on Wednesday: ‘For the last 14 years I’ve co-hosted the best show on television. I can’t thank Nine enough for the opportunity. 

‘I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be good enough to host this grand show for so long.

‘Thanks to our viewers mostly, you are what matters most. It’s been a tough time. Thanks for hanging in there. I look forward to seeing you in another capacity at this great network soon.’ 

'I am looking forward to getting back to the sunshine': Karl's comment appeared to make reference to the newlyweds' likely plans to return to Australia's Queensland for a secondary honeymoon in the coming weeks

‘I am looking forward to getting back to the sunshine’: Karl’s comment appeared to make reference to the newlyweds’ likely plans to return to Australia’s Queensland for a secondary honeymoon in the coming weeks

The last goodbye: Meanwhile, Richard Wilkins delivered an emotional farewell speech to his former colleague Karl on Thursday's Today show - the day after the host was unceremoniously sacked due to falling ratings

The last goodbye: Meanwhile, Richard Wilkins delivered an emotional farewell speech to his former colleague Karl on Thursday’s Today show – the day after the host was unceremoniously sacked due to falling ratings

Meanwhile, Richard Wilkins delivered an emotional farewell speech to his former colleague Karl Stefanovic during Thursday’s Today show – the day after the host was unceremoniously sacked due to falling ratings.

While his tribute appeared heartfelt, the entertainment reporter raised eyebrows by admitting that he sometimes felt ‘pressure’ working alongside Karl, who had experienced ‘difficult times’ over the past year.

Interestingly, the two-minute segment acknowledging the longtime anchor’s departure aired near the start of the program, at 5:45am, when the show would have had a relatively small audience.

Hmm! While Wilkins' tribute appeared heartfelt, the entertainment reporter raised eyebrows however by admitting that he sometimes felt 'pressure' working alongside Stefanovic, who had experienced 'difficult times' over the past year

Hmm! While Wilkins' tribute appeared heartfelt, the entertainment reporter raised eyebrows however by admitting that he sometimes felt 'pressure' working alongside Stefanovic (pictured), who had experienced 'difficult times' over the past year

Hmm! While his tribute appeared heartfelt, the entertainment reporter raised eyebrows however by admitting that he sometimes felt ‘pressure’ working alongside Karl, who had experienced ‘difficult times’ over the past year

'I look forward to seeing you in another capacity at this great network soon': Karl will return to Nine to host his show This Time Next Year and has speculated other projects with the network

‘I look forward to seeing you in another capacity at this great network soon’: Karl will return to Nine to host his show This Time Next Year and has speculated other projects with the network

Later, as the camera panned away from Wilkins following his speech, the other fill-in anchors – Deborah Knight, Brenton Ragless and Lara Vella – appeared noticeably unmoved by the sombre moment. 

Delivering his speech directly to the camera, Wilkins began: ‘Good morning, one and all. Yes, it is true. The headlines on today’s papers aren’t wrong. Karl and the management team here at Channel Nine have agreed that it’s time for him to step down as host of the Today show.

‘Karl Stefanovic has been a co-host of this great show for 14 years. And I’ve had the honour and pleasure – and pressure sometimes – of working alongside him almost every day over that time. 

‘And I can tell you from the heart that there is nobody who has worked harder for this show than Karl. He is a fantastic, intuitive and intelligent journalist. 

‘I have always described him as an intoxicating mix of world’s best broadcaster and a naughty schoolboy.’

Wilkins continued: ‘It’s no secret that the past year or so have been in many ways difficult times for Karl. But I can say that every morning he’s walked into the studio with energy and passion, bringing ideas to make the show bigger and better. 

‘He always strived to deliver the best program he possibly could.

‘Karl says that this is the best show on television and I couldn’t agree more. He’s also said he never thought he’d be good enough to host the Today show for so long. Well mate, you better believe it because you are and you did.’

Boned: On Wednesday afternoon, Channel Nine sacked Karl from the Today show after 14 years, with network executives blaming his tumultuous personal life for falling ratings. Pictured: Karl with his wife Jasmine on April 4, 2018 in Sydney

Boned: On Wednesday afternoon, Channel Nine sacked Karl from the Today show after 14 years, with network executives blaming his tumultuous personal life for falling ratings. Pictured: Karl with his wife Jasmine on April 4, 2018 in Sydney

‘It is a tireless gig and it comes with an enormous amount of scrutiny,’ he added. 

‘Karl has asked us to pass on his thanks to you, the viewer, for tuning in. And Karl, on behalf of all your friends and colleagues here at Nine, and your millions of fans around the country, we wish you all the best.

‘Our mate may have left the Today show but he’s not leaving Nine. Karl is due to finish his show, This Time Next Year, in February and he’s looking forward to being back on air later next year.

‘Karl, thank you for all the great work. You have notched up a massive number of flying hours. You didn’t just wake up with Today, Today woke up with you. Good luck, mate.’

Afterwards, the camera pulled back to reveal the entire Today show panel – including Knight, Ragless and Vella, who did not appear to be quite as upset by the news as their colleague.

For his part, Wilkins, who added that Stefanovic’s impact on television was ‘impossible to understate’, seemed to be holding back tears – but the others looked rather stoic.

‘We do wish Karl all the best and enjoy that sleep in. It’s well-deserved,’ said Knight, swiftly wrapping up the segment. 

Meanwhile, Nine’s Director of News and Current Affairs, Darren Wick, confirmed Stefanovic would still continue to host This Time Next Year despite ‘stepping off’ from Today.

The controversial TV host still has 12 months left on his $3million contract. 

Backlash: Today's ratings began a steep decline in 2016, after Karl left his wife-of-21-years Cassandra Thorburn (left) and began dating a younger woman - fashion designer Jasmine - later that year. Pictured in May 2011

Backlash: Today’s ratings began a steep decline in 2016, after Karl left his wife-of-21-years Cassandra Thorburn (left) and began dating a younger woman – fashion designer Jasmine – later that year. Pictured in May 2011

Today’s ratings began a steep decline in 2016, after Karl left his wife-of-21-years Cassandra Thorburn and began dating a younger woman – fashion designer Jasmine Yarbrough – later that year.

Audience figures plunged to a 12-year low in September, and it’s understood network executives finally decided to axe Karl this week after his ‘over-the-top’ wedding to Jasmine, 34, in Mexico on December 8. 

Channel Nine insiders told The Australian that management had no choice but to sack the host, 44, due to the ‘crazy’ media headlines surrounding his personal life. 

Meanwhile, according to the Herald Sun, Karl was ‘assured his job was safe’ before flying to Los Cabos for his four-day wedding. 

He was apparently blindsided by the sacking, with a source claiming: ‘Karl had no idea – he left for Mexico thinking he would still be on Today. They told him face to face. They looked him in the eye. But the writing was on the wall.’ 

Damaged goods: Today's audience figures plunged to a 12-year low in September, and it's understood network executives finally decided to axe Karl this week after his 'over-the-top' wedding to Jasmine in Mexico on December 8 (pictured)

Damaged goods: Today’s audience figures plunged to a 12-year low in September, and it’s understood network executives finally decided to axe Karl this week after his ‘over-the-top’ wedding to Jasmine in Mexico on December 8 (pictured)

Cheers to unemployment! Karl's departure came just a day after his younger brother Peter Stefanovic (right) was dropped from the network altogether on Tuesday

Cheers to unemployment! Karl’s departure came just a day after his younger brother Peter Stefanovic (right) was dropped from the network altogether on Tuesday

Karl’s departure came just a day after his younger brother Peter Stefanovic was dropped from the network altogether on Tuesday.

It is rumoured the decision not to renew Peter’s contract was a ‘cost-cutting’ measure, but it has also been speculated his exit was a direct consequence of the Ubergate scandal. 

There are reportedly more staff changes in the pipeline, too, with Richard Wilkins apparently being demoted to Today Extra and newsreader Sylvia Jeffreys being relegated to the role of weather girl.  

The rise and fall of Karl Stefanovic

1994: After obtaining a journalism degree, Karl begins working for WIN in Rockhampton and Cairns as a cadet reporter 

2000: Karl Stefanovic joins Channel Nine as a reporter in Brisbane

2005: He replaces Steve Liebmann as the host of the Today show

2011: His career at Channel Nine peaks when he wins the coveted Gold Logie 

2008 – 2012: Karl co-hosts Carols By Candlelight with Lisa Wilkinson

2015: In October, his ‘serious’ panel show The Verdict flops in the ratings 

Late 2015: Karl signs multi-million dollar deal with Nine after offer from Seven

2016: Karl apologises for using a transgender slur. Later, his popularity falls when he splits with wife Cassandra Thorburn

Late 2016: Starts dating Jasmine Yarbrough, months after leaving his marriage

February 2017: He is pictured canoodling with Jasmine on a boat, accelerating his dip in popularity

Late 2017: Karl’s brand takes another hit when Lisa Wilkinson quits Today in a gender pay gap scandal 

March 2018: Karl and Peter get caught complaining about Channel Nine in Ubergate scandal 

September 2018: Nine CEO Hugh Mark’s publicly criticises Karl’s performance

December 8, 2018: Karl marries Jasmine Yarbrough in Mexico

December 19, 2018: He is sacked from the Today show, but remains with Nine 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk