Sunday, 30 September 2012

Don't expect Alan Jones to die of shame

Not happy Alan.
Intelligent people were outraged last night when it came out that Alan Jones had said that Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard's father, John, who passed away recently aged 83, had "died of shame" due to his daughter's behaviour. Jones' words were cleverly captured by a Daily Telegraph journalist who had bought a ticket to, and attended, a Sydney University Liberal Club dinner that took place on 22 September this year, just on a week ago. The journalist made a recording of Jones' speech. The newspaper's story on the event this morning indicates that comment had been sought from Jones but that he did not respond to approaches yesterday. Jones, a successful radio broadcaster, works for Sydney's most profitable radio station 2GB, which is owned by Macquarie Radio Network. Calls were made on social media for boycotts of 2GB sponsors, with the Twitter hashtag #Boycott2GB trending, and continuing to do so this morning.

Many people feel that Jones has been campaigning against Gillard for some time. For his part, the speech had Jones averring that the Opposition are wont to "go easy" on Gillard because she's a woman. There have been accusations of misogyny against Jones before this, especially following the outcry that erupted earlier this month when he said that women in Australia were “destroying the joint”; the women referred to, including the prime minister, all holding high office. Some think that Jones has trouble accepting the fact that women can legitimately hold high office. The latest ruckus will only serve to cement this belief in their minds. But Jones trades on his ability to attract the community's attention, his notoriety is the cause of his massive salary, and anyway there's a trend globally for media outlets to lean in the direction of one side of politics or the other. A story that was published by the Economist, the UK magazine, shows that in the US it is the "balanced' outlets like CNN that are suffering financially. While Fox News' daily audience rose from about 0.2 million viewers in 2000 to about 1.1 million in 2012, the audience for CNN has remained flat over the same period, at about 0.4 million viewers. The left-leaning MSNBC TV station also saw a rise over the period from about 0.2 million to just over 0.4 million viewers.

The implication is clear: audiences prefer their news delivered with bias. They do not like to be told things without a political slant, and prefer to have their own biases confirmed by the media outlet they watch, read or listen to. By this calculation Jones' outburst in front of the Young Liberals, and the resulting outflow of anger from some parts of the community, must only serve his ends, and cement him in his role as the preeminent Lefty-basher in Australia's biggest city. Jones' uneducated, low-rent audience will lap up this latest junk with the same pleasure with which a dog eats a puddle of steaming vomit. The radio broadcaster's visceral connection to his oafish listeners will survive this latest storm. In the US, conservative radio jock Rush Limbaugh continues to work despite being forced to apologise for earlier this year calling a Georgetown University Law Center student a "slut" and "prostitute" after she called publicly for contraceptives to be covered by insurance. A slap on the wrist, a brief sensation of pain that attaches to public shame, and then back on the horse for another charge against the corrosive forces of liberalism that are undermining the nation's integrity.

With Jones the most we can hope for is that something similar will happen. Jones will not stop broadcasting. His employer is owned by John Singleton, who is notorious for his support of the Opposition, and anyway one thing you can rely on with Jones is the ratings. People in the community love this kind of dirt. Rather than blaming Jones for feeding the bogan beast its daily dose of septic sludge, we should ask ourselves why this beast is so influential and so large. Some might even live close by. You never know.

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