It’s their ABC all right – or at
any rate they want it to be. Crikey has been overwhelmed after inviting
public response on the Chris Masters Jonestown controversy. The
letters are running about 20 to one in favour of Masters, with the
occasional one supporting Jones or concerned that Masters seemed to be
attacking him unjustifiably.

Several correspondents wanted to
offer Masters money to help him publish his book. I should therefore
clarify that he is not seeking money. He seems to have big publishers
lining up in a queue, and won’t need it.

Here is a selection of readers’ comments:

Jenny Bain writes:
poor judgement to attempt to stop publication – apart from being
ideological stooges these board members are absolute lunatics… I and
others will make sure (the book) gets a big launch in Adelaide if you
want to pass on to Chris Masters.

Leone Healy writes: Maybe their ideological bias blinded the ABC Board members to bypass Jonestown in
the mistaken belief that the sacred private sector could do it better.
All they have done is starve the ABC of desperately needed funding
denied by the Howard government. Long live the ABC and its Shops, I
love them all. The Board has no right to interfere in this way, it’s
like old Soviet censorship. What has happened to editorial independence
in our dwindling democracy?

John Spehr writes: No wonder alternative publishers are queueing up to publish Chris Masters’s Jonestown.
They would have calculated that any possible future litigation costs
will have already been more than covered by the savings in marketing
expenses; which of course have been met (in kind) by the board of the

John Samson writes: If Jones has ever heard of DH Lawrence’s famous work Lady Chatterley’s Lover he will realise that its suppression took it to the top of the UK best-seller lists – and kept it there!

Gavin Cooper writes: The
term “dictatorial” comes to mind, and something along the lines of
“just desserts” also pops up. Jones has been snubbing his ego at us,
surrounded in secrecy, for far too long without “us” being informed of
his extraordinary influences.

Marlene Petrie writes:
What is your Problem? I cannot believe that such sensationalism over a
book. Let us write a book on some of the people working at the ABC or
are they all so wrapped in bringing someone down, so egotistical and
probably jealous of the success of Alan Jones? From a political sense
or what ever other reason try to discredit someone for their choice of
lifestyle?…Chris Masters must have an ulterior motive for he is so
determined to try to bring Alan Jones down. What other reason would
Alan Jones be trying to stop this book?…Chris Masters, Alan Jones
does a lot of good for many disadvantaged so you would do better trying
to do some good yourself! Maybe the funds being offered are all coming
from the left? Good on you Robyn Watts!”

Peter Priest writes:
It is obvious from the media, that Chris Masters and his many Left wing
supporters at the ABC and elsewhere are very upset that their plan to
publish a possibly derogatory book on Alan Jones has been derailed.
This is a further effort by the Left wing ABC, which is anything but
independent, using tax-payers funds, in an attempt to squash another of
the few conservatives in the media. Apparently Media Watch
claim that ABC Enterprises have spent more than $100,000 – of
tax-papers funds already on this Chris Masters book on Alan Jones. It
is to be hoped that any money spent on this book will be refunded to
the ABC, if this book is published elsewhere. As well as the ABC being
reimbursed for any ABC time spent by Chris Master on this book. It is
long past the time to say, enough is enough.

John Leahy writes:
I am one of those ordinary Australians who probably would not have
bought this book. I will now do so as a measure of respect for Chris
Masters who is one of Australia’s most eminent journalists with an
outstanding body of work over many years. People like him need to be
encouraged. I will also buy it to send a message to those that now run
the ABC that the ABC should be independent, fearless and truthful.

An ABC Producer writes:
“What if ABC Enterprises ran the whole ABC (which is precisely what
might happen if the government succeeds in its commercialisation push).
Yep, there go those edgy stories. They’d be deemed “commercially
irresponsible”. Of course under that new regime every story would have
to go upstairs for prior approval by the Board before broadcast. That’d
slow things down a bit.

Colin Emanuel writes: What
can you say? After fifty years nothing has changed. Just like Frank
Hardy, the rich and powerfull still believe that they are answerable to
nobody. They destroyed Frank Hardy in Australia…. Please insist this
book be published, plus find out why the ABC did what it did.

John Poppins writes: Will
be buying a few copies of the book and spreading them around. I would
prefer that it be paperback, so as to maximise the sales volume and so
the distribution of the information. I am appalled at the apathy that
seems to allow our government to destroy the rule of law, take part in
illegal war, lie repeatedly, and generally show a complete lack of any
ethical sense. The damage being progressively done to the ABC, our (and
once Southeast Asia’s) best source of independent information is

Kay McGrath writes: I am astonished
and dismayed at the complete loss of integrity displayed at my ABC by
management and board members. I would be willing to contribute to any
fund set up to help Chris Masters do what has to be done in order for
book to be published.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey