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Alan Jones Shocking Jock

Alan Jones appearing at a press conference apologising.

Alan Jones appearing at a press conference apologising.

Background – The Speech.

It all started back on Sunday 30th September 2012 with a speech given by veteran 2GB radio broadcaster Alan Jones to a Liberal Club Fund-raiser; the Sydney University Liberal Club President’s dinner at Sydney University.

The speech would have shocked only most of the 100 attendees at the dinner, who paid $100 per head to be there, but for a Sunday Telegraph journalist who bought a ticket and was in the room recording the events.

During the 58 minute long speech Alan Jones said:

The old man recently died a few weeks ago of shame. To think that he had a daughter who told lies every time she stood for parliament.

referring to the recent death of Prime Minister Gillard’s father John, who had died only two weeks before on September 8th at the age of 83.

Outrage as Speech goes public & Viral.

Next day, after News Limited publishes the comments in the Sunday Mail, there is widespread outrage and condemnation, not only from the general public but from senior Liberal Party members as well with Liberal frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull amongst the first to condemn the comments on his Twitter page:

Alan Jones’ comments about the late John Gillard were cruel and offensive, he should apologise to the PM and her family.

there were also calls for his sacking from 2GB and for an advertiser boycott.

The Young Liberals club posted a tweet praising the speech the following day:

brilliant speech by Alan Jones last night. No wonder he’s the nation’s most influential broadcaster! #presdientsdinner

the tweet which has since been removed by the Young Liberals tweeted a response to the controversy Jones’ comments made:

we apologise for recent comments. Although out of context and not our own, they’ve cause offence & distracted from the national debate.

The Apology – or How not to make one.

Sunday night Alan Jones at a media conference he called for, gives a 45 minute rambling explanation of his comments with an apology, saying:

There are days when you just have to concede, man up and say you got it wrong, And on this instance these are remarks which I shouldn’t have made. They merit an apology by me.

answering reporters questions, Jones said he had not considered resigning over the remarks and that:

The advertisers aren’t queuing up to pull their advertising – that’s up to the station.

then explained that he had heard the “died of shame” remark at a children’s party, and likened it to “black-humoured comments” made in the trenches of Gallipoli, saying:

I shouldn’t have repeated the story. I’m old enough and smart enough to know that shouldn’t have happened.

It was a throw-away thing at a private function – I thought it was a private function.

adding he did not know there was a Sunday Telegraph journalist in the audience, or that his comments were being recorded.

I spoke without notes for 58 minutes, I’ve no idea of the material I covered.

but remembered he was sober at the time.

Reaction to the Apology – Advertisers pull out.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott released a brief press statement saying:

Alan’s remarks regarding the PM were completely out of line. It’s good that he’s recognised this and apologised for them

Big name advertisers were swift to show their reaction to Alan Jones comments with the list of advertisers dropping their advertising on 2GB including:

  • Honda Australia
  • Hyundai
  • Telstra
  • Challenger
  • Coles
  • Woolworths
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • ING Direct
  • Dilmah Tea
  • Bing Lee
  • Freedom Furniture

Investment management firm Challenger, said it had purposefully delayed its decision in order to hear Jones’s response, with a Challenger spokesman saying:

They were deeply hurtful comments and we’re not sure the apology reflected the degree of offence they would have caused.

Alan Jones response – On Air.

With the wide spread reaction to his apology as not sincere, Alan Jones opened his show on 2GB at 5:30am; 10 days after the initial comments were made saying:

I made no qualification then to my apology and I make none now… Of course, when I opened the press conference to the media a range of questions were asked of me, which bore on public policy and the performance of the Gillard government and my attitude to all of that… Those answers should not be interpreted as representing a qualification of what I said then and what I say now. All I can do is say it again, I am sorry for what I said. It is more than regret, I’m genuinely sorry for the remark.

I didn’t think the comment would be reported. It was made thoughtlessly and off the cuff, and I was repeating something someone said to me earlier in the day…
None of those side facts I offer as an excuse; they’re simply stated as a background to the comments.

One Jones supporter rang in and said:

More power to your right arm, buddy,

Jones responded:

People just don’t like the fact that we actually do take some of these people on…
If we didn’t, I just wonder where some of the public out there would be. That’s the difficulty, that’s the issue here.
Long before this issue occurred, there was this unbridled hatred towards me from some sections of the media and beyond…
And indeed … a lot of it’s based on jealousy, I guess. I’ve never taken any notice of that and I don’t take any notice of it now…
I’m not asking for any sympathy or support, I just get on with the job.

Jones said hatred of him this time was designed to intimidate, silence, even perhaps to destroy him.

The hatred towards me, I’ve long learnt, stems from the views I express…
It recently, of course, stems from my opposition to the federal government. I don’t hate anyone in politics, I hate bad policy…
The vile attacks on me, which no one has distanced themselves from – attacks which suggest "we hope cancer comes back", "we hope he dies", "we hope someone kills him" – they go on and on…

But he said he did not "back off" or "frighten easily".

Those people who have complained about what I said about the Prime Minister and the language I used are using vile language in their comments about me. That apparently is OK…
I don’t mind; I can cop it; I can wear it and I’m not complaining…
But if the criticism and the pressure and the headlines and the stories and the intimidation are designed to silence me in what I do on this program, then I’m sorry. The bad news is you’ve picked the wrong bloke.

Summary

It remains to be seen if that is the end to the matter and advertisers wait a while before they realise the commercial reality of needing to get their brand the exposure Alan Jones show gives them, jumping back on board again, or will public opinion win out and see the exit of this shock jock from the air waves?

I think Greens’ deputy leader Adam Bandt summed it up for a lot of people when he said:

This is not political commentary, it’s hate media, pure and simple.

About Nigel Brookson

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