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For example, he tells the reader that "more than one wife of a former boarding-school boy has been known to wonder about the origin of her husband's habit of sleeping with his hands crossed over his genitals". This fear of the predator, he says, explains why some fathers might have been concerned when, on a school football tour, Alan Jones sent a boy out to buy toothpaste for him.

Or that he would disappear from social functions with two of the boys - and the team's soiled football gear - to find the nearest laundrette. This approach permeates Jonestown , an unprecedented intrusion into a public figure's private life. Masters would know that the media's ethical codes only allow this in exceptional circumstances, where this is clearly in the public interest. British defence minister John Profumo's affair with Christine Keeler was one, but only because she was also involved with the Soviet naval attache. Through a bizarre new genre, the psychosexual biography, Masters claims to have found the silver bullet that allows him to delve, with impunity, into Jones's private life.

He says Jones's constant flaying of the rich and powerful is no public service. Instead, this results from his repression of his sexuality, aggravated by a definable personality disorder, a kind of schizophrenia.

10 Most Scary Cults Ever

This repression leads to pain, which Jones alleviates through the "on-air" button, which acts as a self-medicating device. He came to this role as "a virus in search of a host". I am not making this up. Masters ignores the fact that boys and young men were once subject to a most rigorous discipline. Fathers, teachers, coaches, and non-commissioned officers tended to be stern and serious. Their style today would provoke a flood of complaints of harassment or bullying.

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They expected obedience, not because of their repressed sexuality or some personality disorder, but because that was the way things were. Some boys would perform better and were closer to their masters, who were then open to the accusation of favouritism. But when Jones follows this tradition, our soi-disant psychologist finds only psychosexual dysfunction. Even when Jones is spectacularly successful, Masters finds, against all the evidence, that he is ill-disciplined and his research poor.

This psychoanalysis is as useless - and as dangerous - as an appendectomy performed by a lawyer. Employing this to circumvent core journalistic ethics is worse than the most blatant form of tax evasion.

A Timeline of Alan Jones’ Bigotry

If Jonestown lowers media standards, even the momentarily newsworthy may now find that a psychosexual investigative journalist will publish not only fact but also rumour, hearsay and yes, falsehood, about their private life from their earliest years. As US author Kitty Kelley has demonstrated, the prurient are interested in everything, except good manners and works, lifelong monogamy or the missionary position. Not many will be able to stand up to this as well as Jones has these four long years.

It is ironical that Masters claims Jones does not have the journalist's grounding in identifying fact and essaying balance: Masters himself struggles in both areas. There are far too many unattributed assertions, too much gossip and too many gratuitous comments. Balance seems to be present where a defamation lawyer might counsel it, but not always where responsible journalism requires it.

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For example, he relies on an unfavourable valedictory at Sydney's King's School that first saw the light of day on Four Corners : I understand the headmaster cannot recall it. When I arrived in Australia, I was struck immediately by John Howard's domination of the airwaves, and how a sound-bite delivered on a radio breakfast programme could almost monopolise the news agenda for the rest of the day.

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Here, Alan Jones was a vital ally and megaphone. But three things happened in the run-up to the poll which undermined Jones' on-air authority and his off-air clout. It found that in the lead-up to the Cronulla riots, Jones had broadcast material that was "likely to encourage violence or brutality and to vilify people of Lebanese and Middle-Eastern backgrounds on the basis of ethnicity". The third came in June , when Channel Nine decided to drop his morning editorial on the Today breakfast show, a slot he had appeared in for 20 years.

Jonestown - Late Night Live - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

By the election, Alan Jones still had the ratings - to this day, he is Sydney's most popular breakfast show host - but could no longer boast the same power and influence. The conservative ascendency was coming to an end. Australia was about to enter Ruddville and leave Jonestown. Then there were the Chasers, a constant thorn in the then prime minister's side as the election approached. Some of their ambushes of his early morning power walks rose to the level of performance art - one involved a silver Delorean sports car, a mad professor and the promise to take Mr Howard "back to the future" so that he could retire gracefully rather than be forced out by the voters.

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It fast became a leitmotif for the entire campaign - and reinforced the sense that John Howard had done his dash. Then there was the Apec stunt in Sydney, where the Chasers breached the supposedly water-tight security with a fake motorcade carrying an Osama Bin Laden doppelganger. The Apec summit had been intricately choreographed by John Howard's image-makers as part of a last-ditch attempt to save his prime ministership. Instead, it became a showcase for the Chasers' madcap talent. Why does any of this matter?

Because the Chasers went off-air just as Kevin Rudd became prime minister. For the past 18 months, the Australian prime minister has therefore enjoyed the luxury of a fairly feeble opposition and a Chasers-free ABC.

The end of the Chasers' sabbatical comes at the very moment when the prime minister's Hawkie-like popularity appears to have dipped. Are the Chasers about to become a factor again? Sign in or register to comment.

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