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Packer/Gyngell: How each side is spinning the brawl

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Packer v Gyngell: photographer speaks

One of the photographers who snapped images of longtime friends James Packer and David Gyngell trading punches initially thought it was all in jest. Photos/video: Media Mode.

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The coverage of the James Packer and David Gyngell street brawl provides an interesting example of how two rich and powerful men can attempt to mitigate the public fallout from the most embarrassing of situations.

While Nine Entertainment Group chief executive officer Gyngell had resigned himself to the fact he would not be able to stop the explosive story of the brawl with his long-time billionaire friend emerging, his own network was among bidders in the final stages of securing the rights to use the exclusive images and video of Sunday's dust up.

That Nine was so aggressively chasing the rights fuelled speculation on Monday that the damning images might never see the light of day, although insiders at the network insist Gyngell played no role in how it treated the story.

Brawl: David Gyngell.

Brawl: David Gyngell. Photo: INF

However the subsequent coverage of the story on Gyngell's network seemed far more jovial than the damning images would suggest.

Nine's Today show co-host Karl Stefanovic discussed the brawl on air on Tuesday morning with talkback radio host Ray Hadley, the pair downplaying the incident and suggesting the two would soon be best friends again. Hadley even admitted he too had acted foolishly over the years and been caught out in public.

No doubt Stefanovic, who spent several hours at Packer's home on Monday night and joked this morning that such fights were "just so Australian", was acutely aware his boss, Gyngell, along with Packer, would be watching his every word.

David Gyngell, left, with best mate James Packer in 1999.

David Gyngell, left, with best mate James Packer in 1999. Photo: Virginia Star

Stefanovic, considered a senior journalist at Nine, did not disclose any revealing details about his time with Packer on Monday night, despite his intimate proximity. The journalist has previously told PS that when it comes to the Packer "they are good mates and I don't discuss them ... to anyone".

In the end, Nine was outbid by the Murdoch press, with News Corp shelling out a final sum, estimated to be close to $250,000, for the photos, which it splashed across its newspapers across the country.

The coverage was replete with headlines like "PACKER WHACKER", as if to play down the vicious exchange between the men.

Similarly the media group is running its heavily watermarked video across all its websites.

As Murdoch's top executives gathered in Sydney at the company's Holt Street headquarters to discuss how they would use the images and video, Lachlan Murdoch was deep in conversation at Packer's Bondi pad, no doubt soothing the way for what was about to transpire.

Murdoch had arrived in Bondi at around 12.45pm. A long-term friend of both Packer and Gyngell, Murdoch is a non-executive co-chairman of News Corp.

Rupert Murdoch's eldest son spent over an hour with Packer, discussing the prospect of his newspapers paying big bucks to run images the casino mogul, nursing a black left eye, would rather not see.

It would have surely been a delicate dance for Murdoch, judging by the coverage of the fight in his papers on Tuesday, the tone clearly portraying the ugly brawl as is nothing more than a bit of "biff and make up", the sort of rumble two "brothers" would have.

However, the photos portray a somewhat more sinister image, while the Daily Telegraph reported: "Mr Packer seriously considered suing his once-close friend for assault on the basis three witnesses could testify on his behalf."

It neglected to point out those three witnesses are all employed by Packer, and indeed are overheard pleading with their boss to "walk away" in the accompanying video of the incident as they attempted to prise his hulking frame off Gyngell, who was pinned underneath.

Another headline reads: "Billionaire Packers a big punch", which would seem to indicate he was less of a victim.

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