Karl Stefanovic on the Today show. Picture: Today
Karl Stefanovic on the Today show. Picture: Today

Karl under ‘enormous pressure’

BEN Fordham has given a detailed insight into the scrutiny his Nine colleague Karl Stefanovic lives under, saying he's happy with his own "small taste" of fame and doesn't envy Stefanovic's notoriety.

During an illuminating discussion on The Australian's Behind The Media podcast, Fordham told journalist Stephen Brook that he's become used to media speculation about him replacing Stefanovic as host of the Today show. He recalled the first time he fielded a phone call from a journalist to comment on the rumours six years ago, and estimated "thousands" of similar stories have been printed since.

"Karl Stefanovic is going nowhere from the Today show. Channel 9 has made it abundantly clear, from the top brass down, Karl is hosting the Today show next year. I'm not hosting the Today show next year," he said.

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Rather, he said, Stefanovic is "clickbait" - dealing with a level of fame he's "absolutely" glad he himself hasn't reached.

He recalled a recent conversation with friend and radio host Brendan 'Jonesy' Jones.

"He said, 'I think we've got it right. We've got a healthy dose (of fame).' There's enough interest in us because you need a certain amount in order for people to tune into our shows, but not so much that we've got people hanging around outside our house. I've had the odd occasions when I've had that happen to me - but I can count them on one hand."

He recounted an interaction with a paparazzi photographer who he'd spotted in a car outside his house around the time his hosting duties on Nine's hit show Ninja Warrior had started.

Ben Fordham. Picture: Lawrence Pinder
Ben Fordham. Picture: Lawrence Pinder

Once Fordham realised, he introduced himself to the snapper and asked to see the photos - then offered to pose for some better ones with his family.

"I said, 'Mate, if you really need these photos in future, here's my number. Rather than hide in a car outside my house, I'd rather just give you the photos and you can move on.'

"That was my small taste of it. Having that happen to you every day, what that would do to you, I don't know. You're essentially being followed. You jump in your car and there's someone following you … you know when you're inside your home that there's someone sitting outside," he said.


Karl Stefanovic’s relationship with fiancee Jasmine Yarbrough is prime tabloid fodder.
Karl Stefanovic’s relationship with fiancee Jasmine Yarbrough is prime tabloid fodder.

"I'm not going to pretend to know what impact it's had on (Karl). That would be an enormous amount of pressure, and I think he's handled it incredibly well. To all of a sudden have people camped outside your house all day, every day. This isn't a flash in the pan story where someone's in the middle of a media storm and for three days or a week the media's camped outside your house. This has gone on for years. Every couple of days, someone camped outside your house. Would you want that? Would anyone want that?" he asked.

"I think he plays it pretty well, because he doesn't run outside Britney Spears style with a stick or a handbag trying to whack the cameras. He just gets on with it."

Public interest in Stefanovic has skyrocketed during the past tumultuous 18 months of his life, with a messy public split from wife Cassandra Thorburn, an engagement to new partner Jasmine Yarbrough, the dramatic departure of his Today co-host Lisa Wilkinson from Nine and the infamous 'Ubergate' scandal.

Don't expect that interest to die down any time soon, with Stefanovic and Yarbrough set to wed at a luxurious Mexican resort next month.


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