The show has been put on hiatus for two weeks, the show's creators have publicly apologised and a number of high ranking positions at the ABC are looking increasingly shaky. The Prime Minister even weighed in when he should have been discussing Fitzgibbon.
Without wishing to belittle the issue or fail to take the whole thing seriously, let's wander into the realm of "conspiracy" for a moment (tongues planted firmly in our cheek). Please note this is entirely speculative, and more than a little fanciful. I don't know the Chaser team and have no personal insight into what may or may not have occurred.
The Chaser came back on air Wednesday 27th, with rave reviews over its ratings, if not its content. Then Spicks and Specks beat it the following night.
So the next week comes along, with the previous week's ratings winner up against a little known sports juggernaut known as the State of Origin. Without doubt, even with the two program's viewer bases being pretty well separated, there was always going to be a huge drop in ratings. So the Chaser boys figured they needed a water cooler moment and they needed it now. Hence, the sketch that launched countless complaints, became banned from view on the ABC, but became well and truly available via YouTube (as evidenced above).
If there's one thing the Chaser lads have shown they're good at it's understanding emerging media and making use of platforms other than TV to augment their shows. With a likely ratings drop ahead, and a possible international syndication deal, what better way to keep all eyes on them than with a skit that pushes the boundaries just a little too far, something everyone would be talking about the next day?
The reaction was obviously huge, and possibly a little more than anticipated, but you have to admit it would definitely be considered virally successful.
I floated this idea around the office and found it met with not a small amount of derision and dismissal. "Conspiracy theorist!" they joked. "Next you'll be saying they're secretly working with Elvis." Yeah, fair cop I figured. I mean, the whole incident was enough to push the Chaser team to unreservedly apologise to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and for the ABC to pull the Chaser off-air for a fortnight, returning the 24th of June. Despite what can only be described as creating an air of anticipation to see what they come up with upon their return, it seemed like the kind of response you couldn't, or wouldn't, script regardless of the publicity.
Then I started thinking, "hang on, isn't there some other event on the 24th?"
Of course! State of Origin 2.
[See also "Mumbrella: Why the Chasergate furore is bout the future of the ABC"]