Alan Jones has a long history of bullying and bad behaviour, but there may finally be a force sufficient to keep him in check, says Wayne Brooks — social media.
INTOLERANCE of Alan Jones works.
After his outrageous “die of shame” comments about the Prime Minister launched a social media campaign that led to a stampede of advertisers off his morning radio show, yesterday he was told by Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) that he must undergo “accuracy training” after being found out telling one too many porkie pies on radio.
Yes, for something like 25 years Alan has been spreading his pearls of wisdom, coated with his special brand of venom and spite, across as much of Australia as can tolerate him — and for most of those years he has enjoyed almost complete immunity from retaliation. Usually, all he has had to worry about is getting sued by those he's defamed — and we know he does, as he loses a lot of court cases for exactly that reason.
What a good time, then, to stroll down memory lane and revisit some of Jones’ most outstanding performances.
Julia Gillard – died of shame
There were strong calls for 2GB to sack Jones in October 2012 following remarks he made at a Sydney University Liberal Club function a week earlier. The remarks concerned the death of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father, John. Jones said that Mr Gillard had
“…died of shame to think that his daughter told lies every time she stood for parliament”.
Jones’ speech was secretly recorded by a journalist. After the remarks were condemned across social media and the Australian media, Jones held a press conference and attempted to apologise. Many labelled his apology as insincere and fake, with Jones using the press conference to criticise Gillard’s performance as Prime Minister. Jones also attempted to contact the Prime Minister to offer a personal apology, but was unable to reach her. Several sponsors pulled advertising from Jones’ program. One academic linked the public reaction to the “bigger political and media context”, citing the Leveson Inquiry in Britain, saying that it shows the
‘…dark side of media power, including bullying by media owners and powerful media individuals who lobby politicians, demand favours, use their outlets as a bully pulpit and to seek revenge when they don’t get their way.’
Unsubstantiated comments on climate change
On 15 June 2012, ACMA found that Jones had breached the commercial radio code of practice in his reporting of environmental issues. This related to his claim that
“…human beings produce 0.001 per cent of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”.
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said that the watchdog was not penalising the licensee of 2GB, but was working with it to improve procedures.
Breach of Radio Standards
On 25 November 2011, ACMA found that Jones had breached the commercial radio code of practice in his reporting of environmental issues. His reporting was found to lack accuracy and failing to allow other viewpoints to be heard. A decision on the penalty for this breach was reserved.
Jones is / was (December 2011) being sued by health bureaucrat Terry Clout over comments made by Jones in March 2009.
Coates v Jones
In 2008 Jones was found to have defamed Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates in comments Jones made regarding Coates’ handling of an incident involving rower Sally Robbins’ performance at the 2004 Olympics.
Contempt of Court charges
Jones was originally convicted of breaching the Children’s (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 (NSW), by broadcasting the suppressed name of a juvenile witness in a murder trial.
The deputy chief magistrate, Helen Syme, criticised Jones for not issuing an on-air apology to the boy he had named and said that Jones’ offence was “serious”. The magistrate placed Jones on a nine month good-behaviour bond and fined him $1000.
Outside the court, Jones said:
“The court found it was not a simple mistake. My view does not count.”
In February 2008, Jones lost an appeal against his conviction. His lawyers told the judge they would be challenging the penalty at a future date.
On 27 March 2008, Jones’s criminal conviction was quashed. The judge presiding over the appeal, Judge Michael Finnane, said:
“While it was no excuse from liability in law that Mr Jones relied on The Daily Telegraph, the fact that he did, to some extent ameliorates the seriousness of the offence.”
The judge confirmed Jones’ guilt, but dismissed the charge and annulled the conviction.
On Wednesday 18 October 2007, it was revealed that NSW State Coroner Mary Jerram was referring Jones and The Daily Telegraph to the NSW Supreme Court for comments made the Friday earlier relating to the inquest into the death of Private Jake Kovco. Jones claimed that assisting counsel John Agius had unfairly attempted to persuade Kovco’s mother into refusing a jury inquest, comments which Jerram stated could prejudice the inquest.
2005 Cronulla riots
In December 2005, in the lead-up to the Cronulla riots, Jones used his breakfast radio program to read out and discuss a widely-circulated text message calling on people to
“Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge… get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day.”
This message was similarly discussed in the wider media, including on the front page of publications like the Sydney Morning Herald.
Media commentator David Marr accused Jones of inciting racial tensions and implicitly encouraging violence and vigilantism by the manner of his responses to callers — even while he was ostensibly disapproving of them taking the law into their own hands.
On 10 April 2007, the ACMA found that the broadcaster 2GB and Jones had broadcast material (specifically comments made by Jones between 5–9 December 2005) that were
‘…likely to encourage violence or brutality and to vilify people of Lebanese and Middle-Eastern backgrounds on the basis of ethnicity.’
David Flint leapt to Jones’ defense by appearing on Jones’ morning show
‘…to support his friend and to condemn the process that found him guilty. He told 2GB listeners that the vigilante movement existed at Cronulla long before Jones began broadcasting and that the ACMA findings amounted to a classic case of shoot the messenger. He said the complaints process was flawed because, unlike the Press Council, Jones could not face or question his accusers.’
The NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal upheld a complaint of racial vilification against Jones and 2GB on 21 December 2009. The tribunal said his comments about “Lebanese males in their vast numbers” hating Australia and raping, pillaging and plundering the country, about a “national security” crisis, and about the undermining of Australian culture by “vermin” were reckless hyperbole, calculated to agitate and excite his audience without providing them with much in the way of solid information.
“Cash for comment"
Between 1999 and 2000, the Cash for comment investigation was conducted. Jones had been accused of contracting to have personal commercial support in exchange for favourable “unscripted” comments, principally for Telstra and Qantas, during his radio show. The independent Australian Broadcasting Corporation TV show, Media Watch, was heavily involved in exposing these practices. The Australian Broadcasting Authority finally decided that disclosure had to be made, hence the “Commercial Agreement Register” at the Jones portion of his station’s web site. (Jones was investigated along with John Laws from 2UE.)
Appendix to Cash for Comment – the impartiality of Flint
In April 2004, another scandal broke after it was revealed the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority, David Flint, who had headed the Cash for comment inquiries, had sent a stream of admiring letters to Alan Jones. This called into question the impartiality of Flint, and the then Federal Minister for Communications, Daryl Williams, was embroiled in media speculation as to the future of Flint.
With an inquiry imminent, Flint resigned. In an appearance on the ABC’s Enough Rope, John Laws accused Jones of placing pressure on Prime Minister John Howard to keep Flint as head of the ABA, made comments that many viewers took to imply a sexual relationship between Jones and Flint and broadly hinted that Jones was homosexual like Flint — who is openly gay.
Harrigan v Jones
In 1998, Jones claimed on-air that rugby league referee Bill Harrigan was biased. Harrigan sued Jones for defamation and, in 2001, was awarded damages of $90,000.
Military Trial Commentary and Criticism of Brigadier McDade
An episode of the ABC’s Media Watch was devoted to Alan Jones’ pre-trial comments supportive of three soldiers charged over an incident in Afghanistan, including one soldier charged with manslaughter. The comments were seen to be ‘in contempt of court’ but as the court had not yet been convened at the time of the comments, Jones could not be charged. He also vilified Brigadier McDade.
And there is – oh – so much more — but you get the point.
I suppose the question is: why have I bothered to write this and post old news?
Let me answer with a post I put on an article in the Brisbane Times in regard to Alan Jones comment — the PM’s dad died of shame.
It reads as follows:
Why do Jones and his followers seem surprised at this new unprecedented lashback for what was simply a low brow filthy remark.
Few Australians with any level of decency would condone a statement that a girl killed her father through shaming him.
We (the people) don’t care if he or she is the PM or the local postie — it was dirty filth at its lowest.
But typically, the likes of Jones feel entitled to carry on as they see fit thinking themselves above reproach.
The arrogant Jackass learnt a valuable lesson this week: there’s a new sheriff in town; it’s called social media and it has given the right of reply to the people Jones and those like him attacked previously without ramification.
We now have reply avenues he (Jones) has never been subject to in the past, and he best remember it’s going nowhere fast.
It’s high time Jones wiped his filthy mouth and started behaving like a member of the human race, and not a mad dog awaiting euthanasia in the local pound.
Read “The Bravery Of Jones Knows No Bounds” here.
This is why I say intolerance works — people’s vocal intolerance of the bigoted, cruel and horrible can work to stop such denigration in our community and on the airwaves. Twitter and other social media found a common thread — a horrible vicious remark, designed to hurt, which nobody from either side of politics could support if they possessed any decency.
As a result, the remark and its author got severely belted by the nation and it was truly justified.
Now, since he was lambasted by the public, we suffer Alan Jones incessant whining that he’s being attacked, that people are pulling him down, and trying to destroy him, and on and on and on he goes.
Let’s not be fooled or lulled by this vicious little man’s rhetoric. His track record speaks for itself and that’s why I put up some of his seedy past for your perusal. He is a media thug; a bully, and as malicous and nasty as they come.
Alan Jones is upset because he discovered his sense of inflated self importance is false — he isn’t a self appointed media god, he isn’t above reproach and he is no longer beyond the reach of the little people he previously sat above free to judge and criticise.
In fact, Alan’s biggest bitch, for my mind, is one purely driven by ego, arrogance and resentment that he is no longer running the show — but, thanks to social media’s response capability, the show may just, from this day forth, be running him.
(You can read more by Wayne Brooks on his blog at wrb330.wordpress.com.)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License