Daily Telegraph admits Today show story was wrong and apologises to Nine host Georgie Gardner

News Corp’s Sydney tabloid, The Daily Telegraph, has retracted its story claiming Nine’s Today breakfast show had been subject to scathing focus group reviews and apologised to host Georgie Gardner who was described as an ‘ice queen’ in the story.

Thursday’s story triggered a furious reaction from Nine with news boss Darren Wick describing the article as “one of the most deliberate acts of bullying I’ve ever seen” and branding the story a “fabrication” and “irresponsible reporting”.

Two days after piece appeared on page 7 of Thursday’s Daily Telegraph, the paper admitted the story was untrue, writing: “The Daily Telegraph withdraws the claims, which we accept were wrong.

“The Telegraph has a commitment to accurate journalism and in this case we have let our readers and Ms Gardner down.”

Nine welcomed the apology and the Daily Telegraph’s retraction, telling Mumbrella: “We appreciate them addressing the issue and correcting false reports.” News had no further comment when approached about the story.

In the original story, the Daily Telegraph claimed Nine’s research to discover why the revamped Today show’s ratings were struggling had found focus groups highlighted the lack of chemistry between hosts Georgie Gardner and Deborah Knight with participants describing the show’s banter as being “forced”.

The article went onto claim audiences were not “loving Georgie” and “they find her cold, an ice maiden.”

On the morning the story appeared in the Daily Telegraph’s print edition, Nine released a furious rebuttal of the piece. Wick stated in the network’s release: “Nine’s position is that this is an outrageous, false, reckless and defamatory attack on Georgie Gardner and the Today Show. The claim by the Daily Telegraph reporter that Nine has conducted focus groups this year is wrong. We haven’t as yet commissioned any focus groups for the Today Show, let alone held them in 2019.”

“The allegations from the article that Georgie Gardner was perceived as an ‘Ice Maiden’ and is somehow responsible for the poor numbers of the show this year is a fabrication and irresponsible reporting.”

Wick claimed the network had run a number of focus groups in late 2018 with the feedback being positive towards Gardner.

Following Nine’s furious reaction, a News Corp spokesperson told Mumbrella they “were reviewing the issue.”

The Today show has been struggling since Gardner and Knight replaced controversial host Karl Stephanovic in a shake up of the show at the beginning of the year.

Since the revamped line up started five weeks ago, Today has fallen further behind rival Seven’s morning show, Sunrise. On Monday this week, The Today Show had a metro audience of 168,000, versus Sunrise’s 287,000. On Tuesday, the numbers were 188,000 and 273,000 respectively. On Wednesday, Today Show’s metro audience was 182,000, compared to 227,000.

Today’s travails continued later in the week with Thursday’s show attracting 204,000 viewers to Sunrise’s 299,000 while Friday saw Today’s audience dip to 165,000 against Sunrise’s 298,000.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.