Nine's Darren Wick lashes out at The Daily Telegraph's "bullying" of Georgie Gardner

The cast of THE TODAY SHOW
Image - Nine

The Daily Telegraph has launched a scathing attack on Georgie Gardner, labelling her “cold” and an “ice maiden”.

Journalist Kris Crane has alleged that Nine had commissioned independent analysts to conduct focus groups in and attempt to understand why audiences are not tuning in to THE TODAY SHOW. The report also says that audiences don’t have as bad a response to Gardner’s co-host Deb Knight because, in part, they don’t know what her brand is.

Today has been struggling since the wholesale re-casting and re-launch on Monday 14 January, with it’s lowest ratings in 13 years on Monday 18 February - a minuscule 168,000 viewers (OzTAM five city metro, overnights only). The breakfast program drew only slightly better yesterday (Wednesday 20 February), with 187,000.

There has been much speculation about Today as the numbers have declined, including TV Blackbox. This latest shot by the Daily Tele represents a very personal attack on Gardner and a new low for Nine in the media’s approach to their beleaguered breakfast program.

In response Nine’s Director of News and Current Affairs Darren Wick published a scathing response to the article delivering his full support for Gardner and The Today Show, reaffirming Nine’s commitment to the program:

Darren Wick
Image - Nine

STATEMENT FROM DARREN WICK, DIRECTOR OF NEWS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS, NINE:

 “This is one of the most deliberate acts of bullying I’ve ever seen. There are no facts attached to the claims. And the reporter didn’t bother to contact NINE to put the claims to me or anyone else for comment.

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.

NINE conducted a number of focus groups throughout the last six months of 2018, under my supervision, and the feedback from those viewers was overwhelmingly positive about Georgie Gardner. She rated head and shoulders above every other on-air presenter. And that’s consistent with all Today Show focus groups we’ve held during the last seven years, while I’ve been in the National News Director role.

I don’t shy away from the weaker numbers the Today Show has recorded in 2019. But just five weeks into a new team on-air, we’re not about to hit the panic button. We’ve been through this battle before with other programs, where a section of the media is quick to write us off. We’re in for the long haul.”

Nine merged with Fairfax in December 2018; subsequently News Corp titles such as The Daily Telegraph became direct competitors to Nine.