Morning Mayhem! Australia’s biggest breakfast show feuds and bust ups

Forget Married At First Sight or The Bachelor, the real drama seems to happen on breakfast TV.
Loading the player...

Over the years, there have been many morning show scandals and feuds that have captured the Australian media sphere. Need we remind you of Karl and Peter Stefanovic’s bombshell Uber phone call?

WATCH: Jessica Rowe hits out at Karl and Peter Stefanovic 

Whether it be disputes over pay, or a shock sacking, the past 15 years have housed many breakfast TV bust ups. With some media personalities featuring more often than others.

From Jessica Rowe’s brutal sacking to Lisa Wilkinson’s abrupt departure from the Today show, we’ve rounded up the biggest breakfast show scandals and feuds below.

Jessica Rowe (left) used to host The Today Show alongside Karl Stefanovic (right). (Credit: Instagram)

Jessica Rowe & Eddie McGuire

While Karl Stefanovic may currently sit alongside Allison Langdon on the Today show, back in 2006 the presenter was joined by everyone’s favourite self-described “Crap Housewife”, Jessica Rowe.

But although the Studio 10 host has grown a dedicated fanbase, it seems that the-then CEO of Channel Nine, Eddie McGuire, wasn’t a fan of Jess on the show. And the new mother ended up losing her job while on maternity leave with her first daughter, Allegra.

According to a sworn affidavit from the time, issued by former Nine News director Mark Llewellyn, Eddie threatened to “bone” (meaning fire) Jess in a meeting with the Network’s executives.  

“What are we going to do about Jessica? When should we bone her? I reckon it should be next week,” Eddie allegedly said. “She’s a laughing stock, and if we keep her on air we’ll be the laughing stock.”

After Eddie’s comments were leaked to the media, the Millionaire Hot Seat host denied ever uttering the word “bone” to GQ, insisting he said “burn”. But Mark Llewellyn was adamant of what he had heard.

“He did not say ‘burn’,” the former Nine News director told Crikey in 2016.

“Nor did Eddie use any other word that I may have misheard, like ‘let’s phone Jessica’ or ‘let’s get Jessica an ice cream cone’ or ‘I am thinking of getting a two-tone jacket for Jessica to wear on air’. Eddie said what he said.

“I remember it so clearly because it jarred so greatly when Eddie crudely said it.”

Jess herself recently spoke about, what she described as, the “tumultuous” time with her former co-host Karl on her new podcast, The Jess Rowe Big Talk Show.

During the episode, an emotional Karl apologised for his actions, or rather lack-there-of, 15 years ago.

“You didn’t have a guy next to you who could have protected you and helped you in the way I should have,” Karl told Jess.

“And for that I’m always sorry. And I should have been more there for you. I wish I had been a better person, and a better man, a stronger man not just for myself but more you.”

Jess went on to candidly reveal that her sacking from the morning show contributed to her postnatal depression, while also claiming that she was “furious” at how the decision was made.

“Whether or not, looking back, I would have wanted to come back, to have that taken out of my hands, that was what made me so furious at the time,” the 51-year-old said.

But although Jess was willing to have a vulnerable chat with Karl about the past, the same can’t be said for Eddie.

WATCH: Jessica Rowe calls on Eddie McGuire to donate $50,000 to White Ribbon (Article continues after video)

Loading the player...

While Jess was appearing on KIIS FM’s Kyle & Jackie O show, shock jock Kyle queried as to whether the 51-year-old would consider having her former boss on the podcast, to which Jess said no.

“I wish him well in the sense that we have all moved on, but still, even though I was talking about letting go … we still mute him (McGuire) when he comes on (on Millionaire Hot Seat) before Pete’s (Overton) news.”

Kyle then decided it would be hilarious to call Eddie live on air despite Jess begging him not to. Luckily, he was met with his voicemail. Rather than hang up, the radio host left Ed a message… or, rather, a request.

“Hey Eddie, it’s Kyle and Jackie O. I’d like to facilitate you appearing on Jessica Rowe’s podcast to apologise for the boning and all that horrible sh*t back in the day when you were obviously the CEO of Channel 9 and you were trying to be one of the tough boys. I reckon it would be good. Karl cried, he apologised. The time is now. Get back to me and I’ll facilitate it. Thanks Eddie, bye.”

In 2018, Karl (left) became embroiled in a scandal after a phone call relating to Georgie Gardner (right) was leaked to the press. (Credit: Channel Nine)

Karl Stefanovic & Georgie Gardner

It’s hard to forget the Stefanovic Uber scandal of 2018. Sky News’ Peter Stefanovic and his wife and Today Extra host Sylvia Jeffreys were sitting in the back of a car, having a phone call with Peter’s older brother, Karl.

Details of the conversation were leaked by the Uber driver. During the 45-minute chat, Karl reportedly aired a lot of his grievances with his Channel Nine colleagues.

Perhaps the most memorable part of the conversation was the claim that Karl accused his co-host Georgie Gardner of “sitting on the fence” and not having enough opinions. It was reported that an irate Karl declared she needed to “step up” if she “wanted to stay on the show”.

For those who didn’t usually tune in to the Today show, the day after the scandal was a different story, with many Aussies desperate to gauge Georgie’s reaction to Karl’s comments.

At the time, many on social media noted visible tension between the duo, and some were even convinced that a chat about sausage dogs between the co-hosts may have held more than met the eye.

WATCH: Karl Stefanovic and Georgie Gardner’s awkward reunion (Article continues after video)

Loading the player...

After Karl revealed he was once attacked by a sausage dog as a child, presenter Deborah Knight suggested: “You’ve got to face your fears, Karl.”

Georgie then deemed the dogs “menacing”, to which Karl said: “I sense a little sarcasm in your voice.”

It was what Georgie said next that really got people talking. “Well, it’s probably about now I should call you pathetic,” the now-51-year-old said.

Apart from this potential dig, Georgie, who left her role on Today in November 2019, hasn’t said much publicly about Uber-gate, but she did take a cheeky swipe at her former colleague a year after the incident occurred.

When Uber announced a “quiet mode” for its riders, a feature that instructs drivers not to talk to their passengers throughout the journey, the opportunity was just too good to be missed.

Comedian Mick Molloy jumped on Twitter to take advantage of the news, writing, “It’s probably something the Stefanovics should do,” to which Georgie responded: “Ya reckon?!” HA!.”

Aside from Karl’s comments about Georgie during the Uber ride, it was also reported that the 47-year-old accused entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins of keeping “all the entertainment contacts close to his chest”, while also claiming that the Nine bosses were “out of touch”.

Meanwhile, it was alleged that Peter told Karl he “hated his job”, to which Karl suggested he needed to demand $60,000 from the network.

With regards to the phone call, it was initially reported that the chat was illegally recorded by the Uber driver in question, who later denied this to New Idea, claiming he simply remembered the details.

Things have been reportedly tense between Samantha Armytage (second from left) and some of her former Sunrise colleagues. (Credit: Getty)

Samantha Armytage & Natalie Barr & David Koch

When Samantha Armytage bid her final farewells to Channel Seven’s Sunrise, the presenter celebrated in style.

Not only was champagne flowing around the office, the presenter took her friends and colleagues out for an intimate lunch. However, noticeably missing from the get together were her former co-hosts, David Koch and Natalie Barr.

Soon after the luncheon in question, the current Sunrise presenters revealed to KIIS FM’s Kyle & Jackie O Show why they didn’t make an appearance at the last hurrah.

“Well, we didn’t know about it,” Kochie said bluntly.

From there, more reports of a rift between Sam and her former colleagues began to simmer, particularly after Natalie Barr responded to Sam’s controversial claims about working mothers.

Back in February, Sam suggested in her column for Stellar magazine that working mums are treated better in the workplace than single women.

“Bosses don’t ask as much of you if you’re a wife or mother,” Sam wrote.

The comments raised a few eyebrows, including with current Today show host Allison Langdon, as well as Natalie herself, who revealed to The Courier Mail in March that she disagreed with her predecessor’s take.

“I don’t feel like I’ve worked less being a wife and mum. I don’t feel like I’ve had to prove anything either, that’s how it’s always worked for me,” the 53-year-old said.

Following that, Nat dished to The Australian Women’s Weekly that while she and Sam got along while in the office, outside of work they “rarely saw each other”.

WATCH: Samantha Armytage’s emotional departure from Sunrise (Article continues after video)

Loading the player...

“We had vastly different lives, I guess,” the mum-of-two told the publication in June. “We were in different places. She was hanging with her friends and I was spending time with my family.”

Shortly after the interview, Sam appeared on Kyle & Jackie O where she was asked about the reported feud.

“Yeah, well, look, I mean it’s better to be talked about than not, isn’t it in this life?,” the former Sunrise host said.

“I thought everyone might forget about me when I was having my little sabbatical, but it seems they’re not, you know?”

She went on to add that there is “nothing interesting going on” between the two of them, despite all the rumours of a rift. “I’m just doing my thing, out in the country,” she said.

And when a clip from the radio interview in question was posted to the Kyle and Jackie O Twitter account, along with the caption: “So was there beef on-set between @sam_armytage & @natalie_barr? Let’s ask Sam!”, the 45-year-old made her final thoughts known. 

“Look … I’m out. Nat’s wanted the job forever and she’s finally got it. She just needs to get on and enjoy it and forget about me … (even though I’m unforgettable),” Sam wrote on Twitter, ending her statement with the hashtag “peace out”.

In 2017, Lisa Wilkinson (right) announced she was leaving The Today Show, reportedly due to a pay dispute. (Credit: Getty)

Lisa Wilkinson & Karl Stefanovic

A year before the whole Ubergate scandal, the big breakfast show news was Lisa Wilkinson’s abrupt departure from the Today show after 10 years with Channel Nine.

After her reported requests to be paid the same amount as Karl were denied, Lisa announced her resignation from the morning show before heading over to rival Network Ten to present on The Project.

The massive news was announced via a Tweet to Lisa’s personal Twitter account on October 16th, 2017.

“I have some news,” the now-61-year-old began her post, “I’m sad to say that today was my last day on @thetodayshow,” before attaching a statement from Channel Nine.

The statement in question claimed that the Network was “unable to meet the expectations of Lisa” and would be “going in another direction”.

Upon Lisa’s departure, Karl bid her farewell, confessing he was “shocked” and it would “take time to sink in”, while also avoiding mentioning his colleague of 10 years’ reasons for leaving.

“For 10 years, Lisa has dragged herself out of bed at 3:30 in the morning, fed the dogs and cats, put a load of washing on and came into work to inform you of what was happening in the world,” Karl said live on air.

“For 10 years, she handled the brutal hours with grace, beauty and intelligence and a wicked sense of humour. For whatever reason she won’t be doing that any more.”

He went on to thank Lisa for the past decade, saying that they would see each other soon. But things haven’t exactly turned out that way.

In 2017, to mark her 25th wedding anniversary, Lisa and her husband Peter FitzSimons renewed their vows at Sydney’s Balmoral Beach Bathers Pavilion. In attendance were some of the presenter’s Channel Nine buddies, including Peter Stefanovic and Sylvia Jeffreys, as well as Richard Wilkins,

Noticeably absent, however, was Karl. Eyebrows were raised until a Channel Nine representative cleared things up, confirming that “Karl didn’t attend Lisa’s vow renewals as he is on annual leave overseas”, according to Over Sixty.

Jump to a year later and Karl wed his second wife Jasmine Yarbrough in a lavish Mexican ceremony, an event for which Lisa didn’t get a save the date.

WATCH: Lisa Wilkinson weighs in on Karl Stefanovic’s wedding (Article continues after video)

Loading the player...

“I have not been invited,” Lisa told Confidential at the time. But, as classy as ever, when covering the nuptials on The Project, Lisa mused that the couple “look very happy”.

“I think they’ve had a couple of rough years. And it’ll be nice to get on with the rest of their lives. Together,” she said.

Despite Lisa’s classy approach, with the 61-year-old set to drop an explosive memoir, It Wasn’t Meant To Be Like This, later this year, sources told Woman’s Day that Channel Nine is “nervous” as to what the presenter may reveal.

The book in question is to reportedly cover the start of Lisa’s career, as well as her time spent at Nine and her shock departure.

“There are a lot of nervous nellies at Nine at the moment. She’ll be sure to go hard on 
the Nine lads club and of course, her pay dispute,” said the insider.

The same source told the publication that Karl is equally as nervous about the tell-all and what it might mean for him.

“Lisa sat beside Karl five days 
a week for 10 years! They’ve travelled all over the world together. She’s really experienced all the highs and lows. She’s seen it all.”

They continued: “Karl did his best to maintain some sort of friendship with her when she made her shock departure from Nine, but his closest friends reckon he could be done.”

Related stories