"It wasn't funny": Jessica Rowe shares the Don Burke comment that nearly made her walk off set.

Studio 10 co-host, Jessica Rowe has addressed her experience with disgraced TV personality, Don Burke after footage of the pair working together in 2011 showed her threatening to walk off set over crude comments.

During a conversation about the allegations of sexual harassment and bullying made against 70-year-old Burke, best known for his long-running gardening show Burke’s Backyard, that quickly turned heated, the former Channel Nine presenter and journalist told fellow co-hosts Ita Buttrose and Joe Hildebrand of the “revolting” comments Burke made while working with her on comedy panel show, Can of Worms.

Footage of Burke saying he “loves a good f**k” in a discussion with Rowe about whether Australians swear too much surfaced on Monday.

“It was revolting, what he said. Everybody knows I am not a fan of swearing, anyway. But to me it was crude and belittling and people thought it was funny,” she said.

“I think I have a good sense of humour and I did not find it funny at all.”

Rowe then went on to explain, in her experience as a former Channel Nine employee, just how men like Burke can do the awful things they do, and still remain on TV.

“You might say, why did nothing happen? Unfortunately, there were people in power who worship this whole star system and have not held people to account.”

“He was a cash cow, as they say. Repeatedly, ratings and business success was put before individual circumstances and because somebody was more powerful and deemed as more worthy, they were able to get away with shocking behaviour.

“I have had instances where people have behaved terribly to me but because of my young age and inexperience I did not have the confidence at the time to call them up and when I did, I was ignored because I was young and a nobody.”


While Rowe made it clear she condemned Burke for his alleged inappropriate behaviour towards female staff members who worked on Burke’s Backyard, the same can’t be said for Buttrose, who appeared to come to his defence.

“I know Don, I worked with him in radio back in the ‘80s when I was hosting a show on 2UE in Sydney. I had two female producers and I spoke to them yesterday and none of us ever heard any of these allegations about Don,” the former magazine editor said.

“As far as we girls were all concerned, he was fine. He was a nice guy. Quite funny, very ambitious. I don’t know about the rest of it, maybe he changed. He has been judged in the court of public opinion … I don’t want to judge him.”

LISTEN: On this bonus episode of Out Loud, Holly, Rachel and Jessie discuss Don Burke and ask the question – what happens next? (post continues after audio…)

Hildebrand also weighed in on the topic, challenging both Rowe and Buttrose on their points.

“Are they all independently making this up? Are they all colluding with each other as some kind of conspiracy to bring down Don Burke after he has already frankly, not really [been] on television anymore?” he asked.

“There is a world of difference between a comedy show where the subject is ‘do Australians swear too much?’ and he makes a joke, whether it is funny or crude … There is a difference between that and all sorts of crude language and bullying behaviour that so many people talked about and he himself admitted to.”