Lara Bingle. Brendan Fevola. The shower. That photo. Everyone has dipped their nibs into the inkwell of shame.

Alongside the usual tabloid tosh, you can count Mia Freedman, football hardwoman Caroline Wilson and public relations expert Sue Cato. They’ve all swallowed it.

Bingle, in the space of five days, has transformed from onetime home wrecker/cricket WAG/bikini babe turned fashionista into the cowed victim of the media villain and Brisbane Lions star recruit.

The major players — Woman’s Day, celebrity agent Max Markson, Channel Nine and Bingle herself — have given the amateurs a lesson in how to turn a grainy three-year-old mobile phone pic into rivers of cash.

Here are the Bingle bullet points — a timeline of events:

* Woman’s Day, published by ACP, is owned by PBL. Channel Nine, also owned by PBL, is the major broadcast backer of the Australian cricket team — of which Bingle’s fiancée Michael Clarke is the vice-captain.

*The pic’s source was freelance journo Dylan Howard, who was sacked by bitter Nine rivals Channel Seven for rifling through private medical records.

* Newspapers and Channel Nine report Bingle’s public spat with Clarke at the Twenty20 cricket. Nine runs big on the fight yarn, backed by images from shocked SCG Members. Clarke was portrayed as the victim of a Bingle hissy-fit.

* Shortly after the spat, Markson signs Bingle, whose career was thought to be in free fall, (sources have told Crikey that TV wouldn’t touch her) for an undisclosed sum, remaining mute on any money-making projects the 22-year-old had in the pipeline.

* Two days later, Howard’s Bingle pic emerges in Woman’s Day, guaranteeing blanket coverage and sending the AFL and Fevola’s Brisbane Lions into damage control.

* Cue front page coverage in the Herald Sun, interviews on Channel Nine’s Today show, a pro-Bingle story on A Current Affair, and a prominent page-five story in the Daily Telegraph.

*Markson announces Bingle will sue Fevola for defamation, a claim that is immediately laughed off by lawyers because Bingle is “coming off a low base”.

* Then comes this:

From: Max Markson

Subject: LARA BINGLE ANNOUNCEMENT

Press Release on Lara Bingle

Woman’s Day will exclusively reveal Lara Bingle’s side of the Brendan Fevola nude photo scandal in Monday’s issue.

She chose to speak to Woman’s Day to explain why she is suing Brendan Fevola for leaking the unauthorised image.

For her full story and an exclusive photo shoot shot on location in Sydney on Wednesday see Woman’s Day on Monday.

A webcast shot behind the scenes at Lara’s Woman’s Day shoot will be available online at www.womansday.com.au from 9am Monday.

*The fee for the interview, which Markson refuses to disclose, is rumoured to be $200,000, of which Markson, based on his usual 30% cut, will snare about $60,000.

Before yesterday, Woman’s Day coverage of Bingle was consistently negative, with the swimsuit model usually portrayed as a threat to housewives.

Crikey understands Bingle and a reluctant Clarke had been attempting to negotiate a sit-down interview with Connolly and her rivals at New Idea for months. The previous fee was reported to be a fraction of the $200,000 Bingle will receive for Monday’s splash.

Special mention has to go to Cato, who enlisted a spectacularly icky meat metaphor on Crikey‘s sister site Business Spectator this morning:

“This is a story about a piece of meat — dare we say, a piece of fillet. The meat was dropped into a pool of sharks. At first the sharks just circled it, but knowing it was a particularly tender cut, it was only a matter of time before the feeding frenzy began and there would be plenty of blood in the water.”

Cato concluded: “Any piece of meat is fine so long as it plays its role, bleeds profusely and provides salacious copy.”

Peter Fray

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