The Fave Dave Raves are coming into the Crikey bunker as the newspaper world remains stunned at the appointment of 35-year-old Adelaide boy David Penberthy
as the youngest major Murdoch newspaper editor in Australia since Rupert anointed Mark Day all the way back in 1970 with another Adelaide posting, the editorship of The Sunday Mail, at the tender age of 28.

And we’re reliably informed that this was another Murdoch anointment – but this time Lachlan was the man who fell in love with Penbo. We reported yesterday on the trip to the management love-in in Cancun last year that Penbo attended, but today we can reveal that Lachlan also arranged for Penbo’s recent whistle-stop tour through the London and New York operations. If that wasn’t enough, there were also several cosy lunches with Lachlan.

He certainly has big boots to fill as Campbell Reid was a much-loved editor of The Daily Telegraph and received a rousing reception when he walked into the Aurora Hotel on Friday night just hours after the announcement was made. Women were in tears because Reid is a genuinely nice bloke, which is not something many tabloid editors can claim. Crikey hereby starts the rumour that Reid’s brief as general manager of Queensland Newspapers will be to take TheCourier-Mail tabloid.

Penbo also received a strong ovation when he strolled into the Aurora a few minutes later ,but some of the old hands were still shaking their heads. Why the incredible fast-track, and why the trophy position of Sydney when Murdoch editors are traditionally sent to the boondocks to strut their stuff?

The biggest loser is undoubtedly deputy editor Glenn Stanaway, whose father Jack Stanaway was a mentor to News Ltd CEO John Hartigan in Brisbane more than 20 years ago. Hartigan has looked after Jack’s boy and groomed him through that well worn path: Canberra, state politics, chief of staff, foreign posting, backbench, deputy editor.

What he thinks about upstart Penbo’s outrageous Lachlan-sponsored leap-frogging is anyone’s guess, but so far it’s been a case of stiff upper lip. Presumably Stanaway, who Col Allan told Crikey was the best ever chief of staff in Telegraph history, has been told to stay true and an editorship will emerge sometime soon.

Penbo didn’t properly come off the state political round until after the 2003 NSW election, so in less than two years he has dabbled with the news desk, the backbench and his sometimes whacky columns.

We reported yesterday that it was Col Allan who plucked him from The Advertiser‘s Canberra bureau. While this is partly correct, it was then editor Steve Howard who recommended him after working with Penbo in Adelaide a couple of years earlier.

Col Allan quickly fell in love with him before he himself headed off to New York. Then Penbo weaved his beers-and-cigs pub charm on the blokey News Ltd culture in Sydney, and now finds himself running the prime minister’s favourite paper. Let’s hope he’s up to the job and there aren’t too many pretenders to the throne who work to undermine him.

Keep sending you Fave Dave Raves to [email protected]. Tomorrow we might even tell you about the Senator he once pashed!

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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