The Australian thought it had a good little scoop about Kylie Minogue lunching with fellow breast cancer sufferer Olivia Newton-John on Tuesday – but instead, the paper managed to create an urban myth that quickly went global. This is what The Australiansaid:

She should have been in Sydney preparing for the biggest Australian tour of her career, but instead Kylie Minogue had a quiet lunch with Olivia Newton-John yesterday before revealing she was suffering from breast cancer and would undergo immediate treatment. Just a week before her 37th birthday, Minogue met fellow singer Newton-John – a cancer survivor – at Melbourne seaside restaurant Donovan’s in St Kilda shortly after being diagnosed with the early stages of the debilitating disease yesterday morning.

ABC radio’s PM program debunked the myth when the following was first broadcast at about 5:45pm on Radio National last night:

ALISON CALDWELL: Already it seems the media is inventing stories about Kylie Minogue. One Murdoch newspaper claimed that she’d had lunch with another Australian icon Olivia Newton-John yesterday afternoon. She was diagnosed with breast cancer over a decade ago and she’s now in Melbourne to help establish a breast cancer support centre at a local hospital. Today though, Kylie Minogue’s publicist has told PM a lunch yesterday was impossible and that the story was manufactured. Stay tuned for more of the same.

Read the full transcript here.

But that was too late to stop the story spreading like wildfire and Molly Meldrum, who got huge exposure from a desperate media looking for anyone to talk about Kylie, became the number-one recycler of this urban myth.

Go here for an example of Molly at work with Liam Bartlett on ABC Perth. Even the ABC’s 7pm bulletin last night had Molly retailing the myth 75 minutes after PM had publicly debunked it. Aunty clearly needs to improve the media monitoring of its own programs. The Australian ran two corrections today, but neither of them admitted to the embarrassing Kylie gaffe.

The Daily Recordin Scotland was one of hundreds of papers who, thanks to The Australian, also got it wrong in its front page splash about Kylie. Sky News in the UK also retailed the error and given the prediliction of Rupert’s tabloids for manufacturing quotes, you’ve got to doubt the comments Sky attributes to The Sun:

The Sun reports him (Olivier) as telling Kylie: “This is our fight. I’m not going anywhere. I’m here for you now and nothing else matters. Just get well.” Olivier’s father, Robert, revealed: “Olivier just wants to be with Kylie. That’s all that’s important to him now.” It’s thought that Olivier was the one who prompted Kylie to visit a doctor urgently after she’d recently been seen looking pale and tired.

Ross Stapleton writes:
The extraordinary worldwide outpouring of sympathy for Kylie Minogue’s health is only to be expected from a dedicated fan base. Particularly striking is the media reaction in the UK, which leaves no-one in Australia in any doubt that the iconic Kylie really is the UK’s own adopted “pop princess.”

But it seems incomprehensible that her Australian tour promoter Frontier Touring can even begin to hold out some hope for fans by urging them to hang on to their “postponed” tour tickets because their mere possession makes them “hot”. The fact is, she’s going to be months in rehab and recovery. Any prospect for her to return to the grind of touring – if at all – is now way off, or should be. So there’s absolutely no reason why the “punters” should continue to have an expectation the tour is to be rescheduled, when cancellation is surely already a fact of life.

And a Crikey subscriber writes from Switzerland:

In Geneva there are three French newspapers – 24 hours, Le Martin and The Tribune. All the page one splashes feature mostly blokes – when they aren’t pictures of freeways and freeway signs. (For some inexplicable reason pictures of freeways and freeway signs are to the papers here as a croc story is to The Northern Territory News.) Women virtually don’t exist in terms of print or pics. And the French are very parochial on cultural issues, so it’s rare to have much of a mention of anything non-Swiss or French.

So imagine how astonishing it is that Le Martin SPLASHED with a front page Kylie pic and story today. That Aussie girl is big news.