Karl Stefanovic tears up over Jess Rowe's brutal sacking from Today

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·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
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Karl Stefanovic became emotional while discussing former co-host Jessica Rowe's brutal sacking 14 years ago by Channel Nine after being reunited on Jess' podcast.

The Today host appeared on The Jess Rowe Big Talk Show where they spoke about Jess' firing in 2007 for the first time.

Karl Stefanovic and former co-host Jessica Rowe
Karl Stefanovic became emotional while discussing former co-host Jessica Rowe's sacking 14 years ago. Photo: AAP

When Jess took over from Tracy Grimshaw in 2006, she was immediately criticised for not having enough chemistry with Karl, as well as copping numerous attacks over her hair, laugh and weight. 

Jess took time off for maternity leave in 2007 and was soon let go over reported "payment disputes", however, it was soon claimed then-CEO Eddie McGuire had pushed for her sacking during a meeting with executives.

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"There was no protection and there was nothing and, you know, at the end of the day it taught me to be tough and it taught me to have a thick skin and to be able to know where the line is but it did take me a long time to get there," Karl said.

"And unfortunately for you it was like, you didn't have a guy next you, who could have protected you and helped you in the in the way that I should have and for that I'm always sorry.

"And I should have been more there for you and for me it was like, you know, I'm trying to do my own family thing I have newborns and I just completely didn't think about anyone else, it was like shutdown city. So, you know this is part of why I'm here today is to apologise to you and I wish I'd been a better person, a better man and a stronger man not just myself, but for you. It's terrible. I feel very bad about that."

Karl Stefanovic and Ally Langdon
Karl now hosts the show with Ally Langdon. Photo: Nine

"Oh Karl, thank you for saying that, that means so much to me, it really does," Jess said.

"I legitimately feel genuinely sorry, and, you know, it's not the easiest job in the world, but it can be easier, and I can learn things from it. But at the time, you know, I wasn't a good host and I certainly wasn't a great co-host, and, you know, wasn't a great friend to everyone that I should have been. 

"I think now, when I look at the team that I have, which is just wonderful. I know the nuances of the team, I know how to protect them and I know all those things but at the genesis of me on this journey, I just wasn't. It was all too much. So, you know... I'm not crying! This is what you're doing now you're making people cry!" he joked.

Jess responded by saying she was giving him a "virtual hug".

The host revealed to Stellar that she had only seen Karl once since her firing and it was very awkward.

"I remember seeing Karl at an airport one year. He was walking with a bunch of people and I was walking with a bunch of people, and we just said hello, but we’d never spoken about what happened between us," she explained.

Jessica Rowe
Jess and Karl had only seen each other one time between her firing and recording the podcast. Photo: Instagram/Jess Rowe

"I thought this [reunion on the podcast] would be a really challenging conversation for both of us – but one we needed to have.

"Even though nearly 15 years have passed, there are some things that never leave you and feel unresolved, even though both of us have gotten on with our lives and we are both much happier people now than we were then."

Jess also revealed that at the time, when she was fired, she couldn't take on Nine for unfair dismissal because she didn't have the "emotional, mental or financial strength".

However, she's added that she has since worked up the courage to fight other battles, despite not being able to fight that one.

After leaving Nine, Jess joined Channel Seven as a presenter for Seven News in Sydney, then moved to Weekend Sunrise in late 2010 and stayed for three years before signing with Network Ten in 2013 to host Studio 10. In March 2018, she announced she was leaving to spend more time with her family.

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