ANALYSIS: It’s a sad time for renowned racist and misogynist, Alan Jones, as he bids farewell to his Sky After Dark (SAD) gig, writes Irfan Yusuf.
Alan Jones used to do morning talkback on Sydney radio. Lots of Sydney-siders knew him – especially NSW-based state and federal politicians seeking his favour. Few people outside of Sydney had heard of him until Alan appeared briefly a few times on TV, firstly on the relatively low-rating Channel 9 breakfast show and then on the even lower rating crazy shift on Sky After Dark (SAD) where he shared the minimal limelight with assorted far-Right covid-denying Trump-loving geese of the Republic of Murdochistan.
Conventional wisdom states that as Jones got older, his opinions became weirder. His views on female politicians haven’t always been on the conventional side. His old radio station 2GB lost a host of advertisers after Alan suggested Scott Morrison forcefully place a sock down the throat of New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern. Eventually Jones resigned from the station as the exodus of sponsors started to cause financial pain.
Later at SAD, Alan told his few viewers that Covid wasn’t really as serious as the experts claimed. He described the NSW Chief Health Officer as a “village idiot” and defended the “rights” of the antivaxxer anti-Semites conducting violent protests across Sydney while the rest of us followed the rules. The covid misinformation spread by Jones was so extreme that his colleague Ray Hadley declared that half of what Jones said was “bullshit”. Jones lost his Daily Telegraph column, and next week, on November 30, he will cease his SAD show. It’s deeply sad.
Now we can all pat the advertisers and media outlets on the head for seeing the light and finally putting Jones in his place. The former Wallabies coach has become just too much for mainstream Australian media. Indeed, he is too much for even the fringe dwellers at Sky. Jones’ broadsides are now just too much.
Of course, Jones wasn’t always this extreme. He didn’t always support violent lawless rioters threatening the health and safety and cohesion of the community. Because if he had, surely advertisers and political leaders would have abandoned him.
Now let’s go back to the leadup to the December 2005 race riots at Cronulla. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 13 December, 2005 that Jones on his radio show boasted: “I’m the person that’s led this charge here. Nobody wanted to know about North Cronulla, now it’s gathered to this”. Jones wanted some kind of revenge for the alleged behaviour of “Middle Eastern thugs”. He wanted “a rally, a street march, call it what you will. A community show of force”.
Jones then apparently read on air the entire anonymous text message sent to locals inviting them to the race riot. This was clearly racist stuff. Advertisements would have been played before and after Jones reading these words: “Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge. This Sunday every Aussie in the Shire get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day …”
The broadcasting of these words was paid for by corporate Australia. I wonder how many of these advertisers would tolerate talk of “Leb and wog bashing”. How many of their customers would have felt amused by references to physical violence against those deemed “Lebs” and “wogs”. How many of these advertisers removed their dollars from Jones? Did they regard violence against the New Zealand PM as more offensive than actual violent and racist broadcasts that arguably led to an actual race riot?
It was only in April 2007 that the regulator, the Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA), caught up with Jones and his radio station. After a thorough investigation, ACMA released an 80-page decision about comments Jones had made and calls he had taken on his show in the lead-up to the Cronulla riots.
And the response? Alan Jones claimed that authority head Chris Chapman had “more jobs than I’ve had feeds” and that he has gone around town many times, “to me and to others, seeking references to be written for his appointment to a stack of jobs”. The head of the station referred to a personal friendship he had with Chapman. “I don’t want to get personal with Chris, I like Chris but he has called on Alan and me for many favours over the years and we’ve both been forthcoming,” he said. “So I’m personally disappointed, but maybe he had no legal alternative”.
Both Jones and the station also had a legal alternative – to cop the ruling on the chin. Instead, the hubris they showed was phenomenal.
As for the Coalition government at the time, they obviously believed most Australians are a bunch of violent racists who agree with race riots. The Minister at the time was Helen Coonan, who now chairs the Minerals Council of Australia. Her response? “Alan Jones has made an indelible mark on broadcasting during his long and outstanding career and I encourage the industry to address any concerns that they might have with the current code with a review to ensure it best reflects community standards.”
In other words, she effectively invited commercial radio to gang up on ACMA should they be unhappy about the outcomes they receive. Especially if the outcomes cost them big dollars.
If the Coalition and its supporters in the mainstream media are happy to incite and defend race riots, is it any wonder they go soft on Far Right terrorism and anti-vaxxer extremism?