I quite like Margaret Simons and I admire much of her work. But, at times, I find her somewhat disingenuous. Alas.

In defending Chris Masters’ book Jonestown in yesterday’s Crikey, she wrote, inter alia: “Masters’ work is clearly based on dozens of interviews with people directly involved in events, and almost every assertion is footnoted. In a nice twist, one of the sources credited frequently is an earlier interview with Jones by Gerard Henderson – who has been one of Masters’ critics.”

Well, that’s true. Sort of. I wrote a profile of Alan Jones for my book Australian Answers which was published in 1990. In a couple of phone conversations prior to the publication of Jonestown, Chris Masters told me that he found the profile to be insightful and helpful to his biography. However, at no stage in the profile did I refer to Alan Jones’ s-xuality. In my view, this was not necessary to my analysis. So, contrary to Margaret Simons’ view, there is no “twist” – nice or otherwise – in the fact that I am quoted in Jonestown.

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On Lateline on 4 July 2006, I supported the ABC’s decision not to publish Jonestown. The following morning Chris Masters phoned me and stated his case why reference to his subject’s s-xuality was central to an understanding of him. I was unconvinced then – and I remain unconvinced now.

As I said before, I am quite stunned by the left-liberal intelligentsia’s outing of Alan Jones. David Marr was the first to out Jones – initially as reported in Crikey and subsequently on the Radio National Breakfast program. Then Mike Carlton got into the act. And then there was Jonestown and the reporting of it.

I publicly defended Justice Michael Kirby on Lateline (18 March 2003) and elsewhere when unsubstantiated allegations were made against him by Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan. So did quite a few conservative commentators. This time I note the appalling double standard involved as the likes of Phillip Adams, David Marr and Mike Carlton defend Jonestown as a necessary outing.

In Crikey on 10 July 2006 Mike Carlton responded to my criticism that he engages in homophobic attacks on Jones whom he depicts as “Gloria Parrot” on his Friday morning Radio 2UE comedy slot. Mike Carlton wrote: “Gerard Henderson’s claim that I am homophobic is just plain silly. Alan Jones’ almost Athenian devotion to fostering the careers of young male sports stars and singers is a fair subject for satire.”

Here Mike Carlton is suggesting that because Alan Jones is (allegedly) interested in young males – this is an occasion for satire. This despite the fact that the young males in question are over the age of consent.

Clearly, in this instance at least, Mike Carlton is homophobic. According to the social pages, the 60-year-old Mr Carlton recently married Morag Ramsay after a long live-in relationship. Mrs Carlton (nee Ramsay) is young enough to be her husband’s daughter.

So Mike Carlton reckons it’s quite okay for him to be interested in a young female. But that it is quite reprehensible for Alan Jones to be (allegedly) interested in young males. How homophobic can you get?


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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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