Kate Gosselin's TODAY show debacle with her daughters Mady and Cara may have been cringeworthy to watch Thursday, but the moment felt even worse for the twins' father. Following an awkward interview on the morning show -- where the girls refused to speak during a live interview -- their dad Jon Gosselin called up TMZ to address the situation.
"I felt upset. I was laying there with Liz [Jannetta] and we were like, 'Say something girls. Come on! Just say something. Anything.' And they didn't say anything and we were like, 'Ugh, this is horrible,'" the 36-year-old said of watching the segment with his girlfriend.
"Then I felt really bad. I mean, I didn't care too much for Kate or whatever, but I felt really bad for Mady and Cara because I love them and they're just put in this situation. It was like deer in the headlights."
During the trio's appearance, Cara and Mady, 13, both went silent when co-anchor Savannah Guthrie asked the girls what their lives have been like since their TLC series Jon & Kate Plus 8 ended in 2011. After leaving the studio, Jon's ex-wife Kate, 38, tweeted that their silence was because of stage fright, but Jon saw it another way.
"It just kind of proves my point of Kate bringing the kids out instead of her just sort of doing it herself," he explained. "It all blew up in everyone's face and I feel horrible for my children because now they're going to have to deal with the public."
Why did his daughters shut down? "By body language they were probably like, 'What's the moral thing to do and what does my mom want me to do?' They were torn and they just shutdown," he reasoned. "It was just a classic case of being silent. You get to a point where you are like, 'I don't know who to please. Do I please myself or do I please my parents -- or my mother?'"
So does that mean he thinks his ex "manipulated" the two? "In my heart that's what I believe, that's how I feel. Can I prove it? I can't prove it, but you can't take my feelings away from me. I feel that way," he said.
However brutal the moment was, Jon added that he's staying positive for his girls. "I just texted Mady and Cara today and said, 'You guys looked great and I love you and have a good day in New York,'" he said. "I didn't really talk about it. I'm just here to offer them support and be their father."
Jon and Kate, who divorced bitterly in 2009, are also parents to sextuplets Alexis, Hannah, Aaden, Collin, Leah, and Joel, 9.