It took six days, but the Murdoch
press today finally put on the record the fact that Kerry Packer kept a
long-term mistress, although it was done in this bizarre piece by Caroline Overington on the features pages of The Australian.

The
quality broadsheet devoted its prime features position to a long list
of blokes who’ve kept mistresses over the years. It was almost as if
the paper wanted an excuse to put it on the record and this opening
passage read like Overington was holding onto a smelly piece of laundry
while blocking her nose:

Kerry Packer’s life may have ended on Boxing Day with his
wife and children by his side but just a few days earlier the
68-year-old was reportedly at another home with a different woman.

According
to other newspapers, the other woman – Julie Trethowan, who manages
Packer’s Hyde Park fitness club in Sydney – was Packer’s “friend and
employee of more than two decades”.

She lives in an apartment
block part-owned by Packer and over the past 10 years he had
transferred more than $10 million worth of shares and property into her
name.

The imputation, obviously, was that the discreet Trethowan
was the mogul’s long-time mistress. The gossip website Crikey leapt on
the story, mocking Fairfax newspapers for “coyly” referring to
Trethowan as a Packer “friend”. Crikey said Trethowan’s “involvement”
with Packer was “widely known in media circles.”

Meanwhile, more information has emerged about the nine-day gap between Kate McClymont filing her story on the Packer mistress and its publication in The SMH and The Age on Saturday, January 7. The biggest factor, we’re told, is that it took a week to get a picture, although when it came neither paper ran it with their page one stories.

Given
that neither Crikey or Fairfax have had any reaction from the Packer
camp, it truly is remarkable that the only follow-up so far has been in
The Australian today. And Fairfax still haven’t even used the
“mistress” word, which is surprising when you consider the trash that
Packer outlets have published over the years about such issues.

How
long will it take the Murdoch tabloids in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane,
Adelaide and Perth to follow up the story? We’re at 20 days and
counting.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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