KARL Stefanovic has delivered an impassioned speech on Today this morning, slamming tabloid website the Daily Mail over an article which pictured him checking into a caravan park with a colleague.
The article in question was posted online last night, and showed pictures of Stefanovic checking in to a country NSW caravan park clutching two six-packs of rum. He was accompanied by a female colleague and the article pointed out that his girlfriend, Jasmine Yarbrough, was "nowhere to be seen."
Stefanovic opened his speech with a plea directly to viewers.
"How would you feel if I judged you for what you're wearing this morning. How would you feel if I criticised your hair, or mocked your make-up or shamed you for not wearing any?" he asked.
"I want to take a couple of minutes right now to call out an organisation that trades in these kind of insults. It's a news website which seeks to profit from criticising and publicly humiliating people - women especially," he said.
Saying that the site has "a despicable track record of denigrating women for who they are, what they are, the choices they make," Stefanovic turned his attention to the latest "shameful case in point from the Daily Mail."
Today flashed a graphic on screen showing text and a picture from the article - oddly, with the word 'girlfriend' blurred out.
"The headline last night: 'Karl Stefanovic checks into humble caravan park with a colleague and 12 cans of pre-mixed rum, but girlfriend is nowhere to be seen'.
"The Inference: I'm a drunk. The real hurt here though is for my colleague, a young female colleague," he said.
"The sleazy suggestion we are checking in somewhere and that I'm 'settling in for a long night.' Fact: this was work. We were filming a story about our struggling prawn farmers; they deserve a rum or two. The producer pictured on the website is a committed, talented, hardworking and totally professional young woman and not deserving of this cheap, lazy, sexist online slur."
He said that his younger colleague, who news.com.au understands is Today producer Lauren Tomasi, had "spent the past few hours in tears" over her portrayal in the article. She tweeted her support for her workmate's stance this morning.
I'm so proud to work with this man, and I'm bloody proud of the story we shot in Yamba. This needed to be said. https://t.co/Uedn6fiI8i— Lauren Tomasi (@LaurenTomasi) June 1, 2017
"The idea that colleagues of the opposite sex cannot work together without something going on surely belongs to the 1950s. The Daily Mail has a long, despicable track record of denigrating women, of ridiculing women and objectifying women," Stefanovic continued.
'I hope Australia is over it as well.'
Stefanovic reeled off recent examples of Daily Mail coverage of his Today colleagues Lisa Wilkinson and Sylvia Jeffreys, and the outlet's infamous Samantha Armytage 'granny panties' post that ended with an apology from the Mail.
"This is the same site that ridiculed Lisa for wearing the same blouse four months apart, the same site that tried to suggest that Lisa and Sylvia couldn't work together, presumably because they are both women. The same site that tried to shame Sunrise host Samantha Armytage for wearing so-called 'granny pants'."
"I am over it. I don't know what you think, but I hope Australia is over it as well. Go hard on me, make up your stories, publish your lies and send out the paps. But if you have any care whatever for the women of Australia, do not slur the reputations of others in your eagerness to throw mud at me. If you agree with me, the best thing that you can do is never go to that website."
Wilkinson echoed Stefanovic's sentiments after his editorial, saying that "I think that a lot of people would agree with you, particularly women."
In the wake of Stefanovic's speech, the Daily Mail appear to have removed the words 'but his girlfriend is nowhere to be seen' from the headline - but have boosted the post back into a featured position on their homepage.
Senator Sam Dastyari has had his say on the issue with a tweet at Stefanovic.
Dastyari is the chair of the Senate committee investigating the future of public interest journalism.