Jonestown: The Power and the Myth of Alan Jones
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How do we rank a man who raises millions for people in need but whose actions waste millions in support of unworthy mates and poor public policy? How do we define someone who on his own finds jobs for the out of work but who routinely trashes the careers of others? These are some of the many paradoxes of Alan Jones. Why is he adored? Why is he reviled? Why does this talk radio host have the power to dine with presidents, lecture prime ministers and premiers, and influence government ministers? And how is it that he could not only survive a scandal such as the 'cash for comment' affair, but go on to greater reward? Chris Masters seeks the answers to these questions and in doing so reveals a complex individual and the potent relationships he has with both Struggle Street and the big end of town. Compelling and probing, Jonestown takes us to the hazardous intersection of populism and politics. It reaches deep into a powerful industry and exposes the myth and the magic of a very powerful man.
summer break: ‘My dear Minister, I am writing this letter to you on Christmas Eve because I believe it concerns a matter of critical public policy. Indeed Craig, I am writing it on the day when, you would be aware, Peter Mandleson has resigned from the Blair Government in Britain over the failure of public policy being executed in a proper way.’51 Jones said the Kolback proposal was obviously superior. He rubbished the opponents not just because they were foreign: ‘Here is a French proposal
never suffers when you tell the truth’.46 While the performance in the box drew poor reviews, outside the court Alan Jones was a textbook study in media management. Errol Simper of the Australian was another observer: ‘Jones found himself again—bailed up outside the lifts by a microphone/camera-wielding media scrum. Jones politely answered each and every question, some of which were bluntly hostile. He found within himself a smiling precision, bordering on the punctilious.’47 There were only 100
‘Some of the emails I have received from serving and retired police have made me sick in the stomach’.35 ‘I have been inundated by correspondence.’36 ‘The fax machine has been in meltdown.’37 Jones attacked Police Minister Whelan for telling lies, telling lies of his own in the process. His researcher Michael Darby noted on 23 April 2001 that when Jones claimed he had received hundreds and hundreds of emails about an issue, there were in fact twenty-three.38 A positive feature of the campaign
medium, which has risen in influence during the Jones era. Talk radio has its limits. A poor research base, that reverse index of certainty, the rush to judgement and, most of all, a vulnerability to manipulation do not always deliver the credibility accorded talk radio by premiers and prime ministers. Many of Jones’ radio colleagues see his dishonesty and activism as harmful to an industry that also has its virtues. They deal with Alan partly because it is easier to go along with him, and
the next Test and the Bledisloe Cup, it was attributed to the familiar curse of the referee. Penalties and luck went against the Aussies, just beaten 25–24. Deposed captain Mark Ella did not blame Jones: ‘I think the players on the field made bad options, basically, and we lost the game, not the coach, or his style or philosophy’.31 The setback had an upside, with Ella and Jones reaching an understanding. ‘We were playing too many set pieces, and I basically told Jonesy, that we, you know, when