It’s all very well for Harold Mitchell to be a friend of the Packer family who offers supportive comments to the media, but Australia’s biggest media buyer has lost the plot with some of his commentary in recent days.

Amid a raft of comments about how “brilliant” and “clever” James was, Harold said the following to PM on Tuesday night:

This is very much James Packer. He’s in the middle of doubling, quadrupling the fortune that his father Kerry left him.

Hearing supposedly commercially competent people like Harold spout such rubbish has become infectious. This is what Tony Jones said when interviewing Helen Coonan on Lateline last night:

Mr Packer could not have made this deal which will double his wealth overnight. It should make you a friend for life, shouldn’t it?

Double his wealth overnight? Let’s see, the 2006 BRW Rich List claims James Packer is worth $7.1 billion and in 2005 Kerry was valued at $6.9 billion. Is he suddenly worth $14.2 billion?

Err, no. PBL shares were trading at around $19.60 two weeks ago and after the stock plunged 69c to $19.90 this morning, James Packer’s net wealth from this deal has increased by a very modest $77 million given that he owns 258.7 million PBL shares or 38.44% of the company.

The same bizarre blunders keep being made on the flipside of this story when journalists refer to Kerry Packer’s deal with Alan Bond. This is what Stephen Bartholomeusz wrote yesterday in The Age: “His father sold the Nine Network to Bond for $1.06 billion and bought it back for about $250 million.”

This has been repeated all over the place when it is just wrong. The SMH opened its Packer story on 2 December, 1989 as follows:

Mr Kerry Packer launched a long-awaited bid for his old Nine Network last night, making a paper offer to Bond Media shareholders that values the three stations at $703 million.

He sold the Sydney and Melbourne stations – hardly a Network – to Bondy for $1.055 billion and bought them back, plus the added bonus of Brisbane, for $703 million.

We’ve corrected this rubbish before in Crikey but it just doesn’t seem to get through.

Heaven help us if someone actually put the two myths together because this would have the Packer family selling Nine for $1 billion, buying it for $250 million and then flogging off half of it in this latest deal and booking a staggering $7 billion profit.

Oh, and we’ll keep track of Harold’s prediction too and let you know when James has quadrupled the family wealth to $27.6 billion.