Scoop that almost meant Howard’s end

30th birthday - net

30 YEARS OF THE BUG/FROM THE ARCHIVES:

The “I Screwed Paris Hilton!” issue.

It might have been a world exclusive at the time but the front-page splash (pictured above) from The Bug‘s January 2004 edition remains probably the saddest news story this paper has ever broken.

As  one of the publishers explained this week: “The very thought that John Howard had some human qualities, albeit very unsatisfactory ones involving infidelity, gave us enormous grief.

“Personally, it’s not the way I’d ever want to portray the lying little rodent.

“But when the head of our European reporting team Laurie O. Gratten phoned through her world scoop, we had no choice really.

“It had enormous relevance because at that time Paris Hilton was still famous for being famous.

“And of course the story had great pathos and human emotion, what with Janette Howard’s brave decision to forgive her errant husband and declare “it’s in the past and we must move on”.

The story on the inside pages explained how horrified, embarrassed and upset the PM and Mrs Howard were when they returned to Canberra from an official trip to Paris only to find Mr Howard had quite innocently and totally unintentionally packed a Paris Hilton bathroom towel in his luggage before they booked out of the posh hotel in the French capital.

The hotel happily accepted the explanation, the towel was returned and that would have been the end of the matter except for The Bug‘s renowned investigative news-breaking reputation.

Tomorrow: The Bug‘s most notorious front page ever and why we remain ashamed of it to this day!

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