There's nothing the media likes more than a leadership story and normally journalists either base them on off-the-record chats or simply make them up. How exciting then for Seven Network News tonight being able to pin speculation about Kevin Rudd being replaced by Julia Gillard onto an actual, real and named former Prime Minister!
Bob Hawke, we were told, is unhappy with the PM's performance and would want him replaced with his deputy, Julia Gillard, except that it would burn both of them if they lost the election. To further add authenticity to the gossip, Labor backbencher Daryl Melham was the other party to the Hawke chatter.
One thing we can be sure of is that the pair were not expecting a version of whatever they did say to be the stuff of the evening news bulletin. As Melham puts it in a statement tonight: "Bob and myself were doing nothing more than discussing the usual Canberra press gallery rumour mill. The fact that some Liberal staffer has deliberately eavesdropped on this conversation and misrepresented it to the media just shows how desperate the Liberal Party has become."
Another certainty is that this statement will not put an end to a new bout of Labor leadership speculation. Journalists love the subject too much to let a denial or two get in the way.