Monday night, on a special edition of TLC’s “Jon & Kate Plus Eight” titled “Kate: Her Story,” Kate Gosselin talked about who was responsible for the very public breakup of her marriage, discussed her husband Jon’s erratic behavior before and after their split and addressed rumors of her own infidelity with her bodyguard, Steve Neild.
The special aired in the place of what was supposed to be an episode of “Kate Plus Eight,” TLC’s new version of the long-running reality series. But filming of the children stopped after Jon sent a cease-and-desist letter to the channel in late September.
Talking to Natalie Morales of NBC News, Kate, looking more put together than on most episodes of the show, alternately gained and lost viewer sympathy as the hour wore on. At one point, she mentioned that she might have her own child-free series on the network, so it was possible to interpret the interview as an attempt to prove her appeal as a solo act.
Kate dug herself into a hole in the beginning while discussing her upbringing, whining that she was “the forgotten middle child” and that “there was a lot in my childhood that was unhappy.” She said that she had always told her parents that “five kids were way too many,” a line her mother would throw back at her after her sextuplets were born.
Her parents, she said, are no longer involved in her kids’ lives. The break, she claimed, came before the television show. “Everybody has an opinion,” Kate said obliquely, “and sometimes those opinions aren’t mine.”
Kate agreed with Morales’ assessment that she has lost most of her own family, pointing out how her brother Kevin and his wife, Jodi, had “cashed in” by talking to the press about the way Jon and Kate are raising the children.
After a montage of scenes in which Kate spoke abusively to Jon, Morales said that viewers “might sympathize with Jon.” “I was very hard on him,” Kate said, “and I would not deny that….It was how we related always.”
Morales’ adversarial stance may have won Kate some sympathy. As Kate took out family photos, Morales’ voice-over said, “She lays out the kids’ school pictures as if they were playing cards.”
Morales pressed Kate hard on whether she should have done the show in the first place and whether she should take the children off TV now. Kate responded that she had been bedridden during her pregnancy with the sextuplets and would never put them in harm’s way now. She said that the TLC cameras always stopped filming if she asked and that she saw the show as a job that allowed her to be with her family. The children, moreover, never asked why they were on TV until the paparazzi began following them during the scandals earlier this year.
Now, Kate said, being on television is a financial necessity. “It has become our primary source of income,” she said. “At this point, I can’t go back.”
Although she and Jon have had some legal disputes about money being drawn from joint accounts, Kate said the children’s money for college is secure.
But when Kate said, “I just want peace for my kids,” Morales asked why she didn’t just step out of the spotlight. “We’re too far gone,” Kate responded.
As for Jon’s legal battles with TLC, Kate said, “It’s hard because inadvertently, it does affect me. You sign a contract, and you do have to abide by it. And I’m a rule follower.” When Morales pointed out that Jon said the filming was hurting the children, Kate replied, “There’s no hurting the kids. All I can tell you is the kids miss the crew, the kids miss filming, the kids miss the trips, they miss the opportunities, they miss the fun that we had. I do too….It opened up a world of opportunities that we otherwise wouldn’t have had, could not have had.”
Asked what was going to happen with the show, Kate said, “I don’t know. I hope to be able to film in the future with the kids. If not with the kids, I hope to be able to continue on with TLC. If that means a show just with myself, if that can be worked out, I would love to do it.” If that doesn’t work out, Kate added, she’ll find another job. “It doesn’t matter what I have to do. I’m from the school of hard work. My kids deserve life served to them on a gold platter.”
Kate maintained that the marriage probably would have ended whether or not she and Jon had done the TV show. “We would have been struggling,” she said, “me as a nurse, him in IT. That probably would have gotten the best of us.”
She said that “things got really bad” while the cameras were shooting the previous season. She and Jon stopped talking to each other at times: “We were completely different people,” Kate said. “Our goals just very much changed. Our visions changed.”
Morales noted that Jon was often at home with the kids while Kate was doing book tours or speaking engagements. “At some point,” Kate said, “I noticed that he was not happy. He didn’t feel like he had a purpose.”
She said that after many discussions, she and Jon reached “a mutual decision to end the marriage.”
Lots of marriages go through ups and down, Morales said, “but you called it quits.”
“I’ve never quit anyting in my life,” said Kate. “It’s hard to hear.”
“Do you feel you’ve failed?” asked Morales.
“Yeah,” said Kate, tearing up.
Asked whether she sympathized with Jon for having so many children and so much responsibility at a young age, Kate said, “When you’re a parent, it’s too late to think about what could’ve, should’ve, would’ve been done. I think by the time you’re a parent, it’s not your own goals anymore. I don’t care what age you are.”
Nonetheless, Kate said, tearing up again, “I still wake up every day and I think the phone will ring and it will be the old Jon.” She added that her kids say that they miss the old Jon too.
When Kate and Jon told the children that they were separating—without using the word “divorce”—the 9-year-old twins took it very differently: “Mady’s comment was ‘Oh, I’m not surprised.’ And Cara crumbled into a little ball and buried her face and cried.”
As for the 5-year-old septuplets, Kate said, “We waited till they woke up from their nap. We told them in a very 5-year-old manner, and they said, ‘OK, what’s for snack?’ ”
Now, Kate said, “They wish Mommy and Daddy could be together at the same time. I say, ‘I do too.’ ”
For her, Kate said, the hardest part is being awake in the middle of the night, thinking, “Am I making the best decision?” She says she’s constantly saying to friends, “I’m done….This time I really mean it. I’m done.”
Again helping Kate win some sympathy, Morales held up a cover of a supermarket tabloid with a photo of a before-and-after Kate and the caption “Mom to Monster.” Morales then suggested that Kate should have expected that because she put herself in the spotlight.
“I put myself in a reality show,” Kate said, “but I did not do anything different that would cause me to end up on tabloids.” Asked why she doesn’t say “I’m done” now, Kate replied that that would prompt five more cover stories speculating why she had dropped from the public eye.
“We did four seasons without paparazzi,” said Kate. “They found a story line that suited them.”
Some people, Morales suggested, would say that staying in the public eye is “the utmost in selfishness and arrogance and being self-absorbed.”
“I can’t control the paparazzi and the stories that they write,” Kate replied. “I can’t control the lies and the untruths that are out there….I am seeking to be positive, have integrity, speak with grace….It feels like I am selfless, because I am trying to do the best with the current situation that I possibly can for my kids. That’s harsh, unless you’ve walked in my shoes.”
Alluding to Kate’s bodyguard, Steve Neild, Morales noted that Jon had said in interviews that he suspected Kate was having an affair.
“It is so unthinkable to me that to have to think about it makes me sick,” said Kate. “If you’re around me long enough, you’re going to get sucked into the tabloid garbage. And then, on top of that, to have it be Jon that starts it, that fans it into this huge tabloid nightmare, is disgusting.”
Kate maintained that she needed security because “there are people who have a lot of contempt for me, and at the end of the day I need to come home safely to my kids.” Jon encouraged her to hire a bodyguard, she said, “and then one day it suited his needs to kind of take the spotlight off of himself and his bad behavior and turn it on me.”
Speaking of that bad behavior, Morales asked Kate how it felt to see Jon with young girls. “It was hurtful,” she replied. “It wasn’t surprising at that point because I knew what I knew….” And what did she know? “Well, his unhappiness, that to me was one—I don’t mean to diminish it, but that was one symptom of what was going on.”
As for the Jon who allegedly brought women to their home, some of whom sunbathed on their front lawn, Kate said, “It was not the person I knew.”
Asked whether she’s talked to Jon about being careful about the people he brings into their children’s lives, Kate said, “I don’t feel like that’s a conversation that I’d be privileged enough to have with him.” Their discussions, she said, are limited to the logistics of child care.
Morales then asked if Kate still loves Jon. “A part of me always will,” she replied. “It’s hard to be married to somebody for 10 years and try to say I don’t love them anymore.…I love the memories that we have together, of the good times.”
As for the future, “I would love to get to a point where he can put his anger aside,” said Kate. “I don’t think the anger in me is as raw as it once was, and I would love to be able to get to a point where we could converse like two adults, even if it only had to do with the kids….I’m sure we’ll get there.”
Asked if she’s learned anything from all this grief, Kate said, “I’ve learned I cannot control the past, present or the future. I didn’t know this about myself. I once would have called myself someone who focuses on the negative. I have learned to focus on the positive, to take what crumbles around me and to find one good thing and hold on to it.”