When Peter Stefanovic spoke to his older brother Karl Stefanovic on loud speaker in the back of an Uber late at night, he complained that his colleague, veteran journalist Mark Burrows, looked down on him.
The 36-year-old, who was sitting next to his wife Sylvia Jeffreys, went into great detail about how much he “hated his job,” and was sick of his ideas always being rejected. Karl Stefanovic, 43, retorted that Nine bosses, “didn’t know anything and were out of touch,” specifically criticising 60 Minutes, which he claimed has seen a substantial drop in ratings.
The conversation, which the anonymous Uber driver says lasted for 45 minutes, then turned to the subject of Karl Stefanovic’s new Today co-host, Georgie Gardner.
The Gold Logie winner is said to have become angry, attacking Gardner for “sitting on the fence” and lacking in opinions. If she wants to maintain her spot, Stefanovic remarked, then she was going to have to “step up”.
Georgie Gardner and Karl Stefanovic have suggested in the past they’re not ‘friends’. Post continues below.
Karl Stefanovic then complained that colleague Richard Wilkins does not share his contacts, and keeps all the big celebrity stories for himself.
The driver told New Idea in an exclusive interview, “Both the brothers clearly think they are better than what they do and spent a lot of time complaining about others.”
According to the magazine, a source from Channel Nine shrugged off the phone call, which is today making headlines all over the country, as, “… two brothers having a bit of a moan. Everyone knows Karl and Pete are in the boys club over there and it was just letting off steam.”
Another Nine spokesperson said it was simply “school behaviour”.
It’s funny the language we choose to use.
Because to the female ear, their exchange sounds an awful lot like bitching.
News Corp described Stefanovic’s comments about Gardner as “venting his frustration…” otherwise referring to the call as a “conversation”.
They were having a whinge. A moan. A bit of banter.
Had it been Lisa Wilkinson and Georgie Gardner having the same conversation, in the backseat of the same Uber, the headlines would have been markedly different.
And so too would have their apology.
“I am now investing in a hands-free ear piece and I gave the driver a one-star rating – but only because you can’t give zero,” he quipped.
Karl Stefanovic also apologised for what he termed a “spray after a Sunday barbecue”.
Had it been two women mouthing off at Nine executives, their apology surely wouldn’t have been so shockingly light.
But men ‘letting off steam’ is interpreted as legitimate and likely well-founded. It is hardly ever reduced to ‘bitching’ – unless of course those two men happen to be gay. Then, of course, it’s just silly gossip.
A ‘bitch’ is one of the worst things you can call a woman, as well as one of the most common.
Take two penises out of that Uber conversation, and you have a bitch-fest. Get Sylvia Jeffreys on one end, airing her grievances about her wage or colleagues, and you most certainly have a bitch.
But Peter and Karl Stefanovic have largely evaded such criticism.
They’re not the first, or the last, men to have a bitch about work.
But let’s, for once, call it what it is.
Can two heterosexual men act like ‘bitches’?