Isn’t Paul Barry just a lucky ducky.

There he’s been, penning a new tome on James Packer, when there’s a front page story in the Sydney Snoring Herald promoting the new book. It also received prominent coverage in the The Age.

It seems Fairfax journalists still have this obsession with the Packer family that transcends generations (of editors and Packers). James Packer did his best to drag himself back into the spotlight with a stand up argument with David Leckie, the former Nine CEO, now head of the Seven Network, at yesterday’s birthday lunch for Sam Chisholm at Sydney’s Opera House canteen, Guilluame.

James Packer is awfully thin-skinned if he’s upset by a story on Today Tonight about his investment in Macau gaming. Perhaps he’s embarrassed at being reminded that he’s put so much money in for so little return. Mr Packer has obviously forgotten the hatchet job that his Bulletin magazine tried to do on Mr Leckie’s boss, Seven owner, Kerry Stokes.

That’s the one that looked at Mr Stokes’ previous marriages and business career: it was ordered by John Alexander who was CEO of PBL. But Nine’s then News and Current Affairs boss, Mark Llewellyn, refused to do it.

But the story then appeared in The Bulletin in August 2007 when it was controlled by CVC the private equity group, and PBL. Mr Alexander remains on the Crown and Cons Media boards where Mr Packer is the controlling shareholder.

It was a typically grubby reply to attacks on the Packer camp from Seven and Today Tonight. But it’s all grist for the Sydney media mill, and no doubt will be great for sales of Mr Barry’s new book.

But what’s Four Corners doing promoting the James Packer story this Monday night? There would be hundreds of local authors who’d do extraordinary things to get a 40 minute promo of a new book they had written on the ABC to around 800,000 to 900,000 people nationally. Beats appearing on The 7.30 Report, Today Tonight, Today, Sunrise and the rest of the circuit having to spruik it.

Here’s the release the ABC sent out yesterday:

This week on Four Corners, “WILL THE SON ALSO RISE?” – Monday, October 12 at 8.30pm on ABC1.

The story of James Packer, his attempt to create a global gaming empire and the business gambles that cost him billions.

James Packer had big shoes to fill but he had a plan to make himself more successful than his father.

Reporter Paul Barry details how James Packer sold his media holdings and invested the money in casinos. We hear from the people who knew James and his father. They describe the affection and the competition between the two and we hear about the high stake deals that made and then lost James Packer a fortune.

On-air promotions for Four Corners started last night with former PBL board member, Geoff Cousins appearing in one snippet. And it continued in the same vein and finished with this disclosure:

DISCLOSURE:

*Paul Barry has in the past reported on Kerry Packer for Four Corners. He wrote the book “The Rise and Rise of Kerry Packer”. He is the author of a new book about James Packer.

Well that’s correct, but even more correct would have been a disclosure outlining the fact that he’s the author of the new book about James Packer that formed the basis for the Four Corners report.

Peter Fray

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