There’s nothing more awkward than being caught out talking behind someone’s back. And that’s exactly what’s happened to Karl Stefanovic, with the former crown prince of the Nine Network boys’ club this week suffering the results of his perceived ‘b****-session’ with brother Peter being exposed to all of the co-workers the pair allegedly badmouthed.
Amid the news that 60 Minutes boss Kirsty Thomson is reportedly so angry over what Karl is claimed to have said about the show, that she’s shelving the stories he’s already recorded, Karl must be now wishing he had a zip for that million-dollar mouth.
The contents of Karl and Peter’s overheard cab ride conversation are now very well known, including comments about Richard Wilkins, Georgie Gardner and 60 Minutes, and - naturally - no one was more affected by what the brothers are reported to have said than the people who work with them at Nine.
Karl may be one of the big faces of the network, with one of the biggest salaries, but behind and beneath him are thousands of people beavering away to make him look great on TV – producers, researchers, camera people, and so on. Many of them work extremely hard, and most of them get little of the public recognition or credit for the success of big stars like Karl.
Most of them certainly don’t get anywhere near Karl's salary. He is reported to earn a base salary of $2 million a year, with plenty of room for bonuses, which could take his earnings up to $3 million a year.
Even his former offsider, Lisa Wilkinson, couldn’t get within shouting distance of that, and she famously left Nine in disgust.
Even the least egotistical or competitive person might be prone to wince when finding out how much more power and money their more favoured or successful coworkers command, and when those highly privileged individuals are perceived to behave in a less-than-gracious way, that discomfort can easily be dialed up to ten.
Whispers from Nine say that many, many people remain very upset with Karl.
According to Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, Thomson wants to get rid of Karl, but she’s been held back from ‘boning’ him from 60 Minutes due to contractual agreements that require the show to run a certain number of Stefanovic stories a year. The contract is a leftover from the days when Karl was a management golden boy and could make any number of contractual and career demands.
'Kirsty is not happy. She really feels thrown under the bus by Karl. She doesn't want him to be part of her show,' the unnamed source apparently told the Telegraph.
It’s never been any secret that Karl wants to transition to the big league of evening viewing, and would like to leave the early mornings of Today behind him, forever.
But after his recent run of scandals, it appears he doesn’t have as many friends in the right places as he once did.
We’ve all said things we deeply and bitterly regret. Doubly so when we’ve been caught out. And despite his millions, I’m sure Karl is no different to any of us in that regard.
Only time will tell if he’s got the fortitude, the spirit and the raw talent to overcome one hell of a mess – one mostly of his own creation.