Australia

Australian TV host Karl Stefanovic sorry for 'ignorant' jokes

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Media caption"I used the word, a word I will never use again"

One of Australia's most popular TV presenters has offered a lengthy apology after using an "ignorant jibe" considered offensive to transgender people.

Karl Stefanovic, the award-winning host of the Nine Network's Today morning show, is famous for his awkward interviews, on-air pranks and appearing on television while inebriated.

But in an apology stretching for three minutes, he has admitted to overstepping the mark after a series of off-colour jokes during Thursday's show.

During a live cross, a Nine reporter described how she and a cameraman were attacked by "transvestites" shortly after arriving in Rio de Janeiro to cover the Olympics.

This prompted Stefanovic to make a series of cross-dressing themed jokes, including a comment that the cameraman was "no stranger to the ways of the tranny".

A guide to transgender terms

Image copyright Nine Network
Image caption Nine reporter Christine Ahern described her would-be-thieves as "a group of transvestites"

His use of the term "tranny" drew sharp criticism from the LGTBI community and on social media.

'Ignorant tool'

On Friday morning, Mr Stefanovic issued a heartfelt apology, saying he got it "wrong, very wrong". He pledged to never use the word again.

"As we all know I can be a complete tool. Yesterday I was worse, I was an ignorant tool," he said.

Image copyright Nine Network
Image caption The show also played Gloria Gaynor's disco anthem I Will Survive as the segment aired

"I honestly didn't know the negative and deeply hurtful impact that word has not only on members of the LGBTIQ community but on their family and friends.

"Because I know trans people are fun-loving, life-celebrating people I actually assumed they might laugh along with me, I assumed wrong."

Image copyright Nine Network
Image caption The TV host has been on air with the Today show for more than 10 years

While the apology was praised on social media, comments on the Today show's Facebook page were mixed.

"Personally think there was no need to apologise," said one Facebook user. "I think the minority that complain need to have a cup of cement and harden up."

Corey Sinclair, editor of Sydney's Star Observer gay and lesbian community newspaper, said the apology was "refreshing and heartfelt".

"Karl seems to have taken on board what people have been saying and acknowledged the damage his comments caused," he said.

"I think it takes a big person to admit when they're wrong. Hopefully it has made others aware that sort of language is simply unacceptable."

Despite his brash on-screen personality, Stefanovic has won plaudits for his sensitive side. He once wore the same suit on the Today show for a year to highlight the scrutiny his female co-hosts faced over their fashion choices.

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