Chris Dobney, Echonetdaily editor
Alan Jones must know a fair bit about defamation, given he has been sued for it at least twice. And rule number one is: you can’t defame the dead.
For those few who may have missed it, Jones told a Liberal Party function last week that Julia Gillard’s father had ‘died of shame because his daughter is a liar’.
The comments went viral after they were secretly recorded by a journalist who paid for a ticket to the event.
The veteran broadcaster must have known he could say what he liked about the prime minister’s father – albeit at a private function – because however outrageous and offensive the comments, the subject of them can’t sue.
Like fellow shock-jocks such as Kyle Sandilands, Jones is a serial bully, regularly dishing it out on air to his interviewees and callers, from politicians to housewives.
He can dish it out, but it seems he can’t take it. On yesterday morning’s program, no sooner had he apologised than he launched into a tirade, effectively claiming he was the victim.
There was ‘unbridled hatred’ being directed at him from parts of the media, he claimed, which was ‘motivated by jealousy’.
The ludicrousness of this posturing suggests someone who either completely egotistical or delusional – or both.
That Jones has been able to maintain his popularity through a long series of scandals is a mystery.
He was mentioned in the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation into the appointment of state minister Terry Metherill.
He was at the heart of the Cash for Comment affair, during which he was initially investigated by his great admirer, Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) chairman David Flint.
Most notoriously, Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that during the Cronulla riots, radio 2GB and Jones had broadcast material ‘that was likely to encourage violence or brutality and to vilify people of Lebanese and Middle-Eastern backgrounds on the basis of ethnicity’.
For too long, Jones has been a scar on Australia’s psyche – the string of his bilious tirades goes on and on.
In 2006 journalist Chris Masters attempted to unravel the twisted motivations of Jones in his book Jonestown saying that he was a closet homosexual. Masters advanced the theory that Jones’s attempts to mask his sexuality constituted a defining feature of his personality and provided an explanation for many aspects of his behaviour.
Some of the allegations contained in the book led to the ABC board forcing ABC Enterprises (the book’s original publisher) to abandon it.
Two incidents that Masters closely focused on were Jones’s questionable behaviour while the senior English master at The King’s School at Parramatta in Sydney and a ‘cottaging’ incident in London.
In the former case, Masters looks at why Jones was asked to leave The King’s School in 1974, despite having just coached the school’s rugby team to victory.
In the latter case, in 1988 Jones was arrested in a London public toilet and charged with ‘outraging public decency’. The charge was subsequently dropped for lack of hard evidence.
His great mate David Flint raced to Jones’s rescue over the book, stating in The Australian that ‘Masters is entitled to investigate and challenge Jones’s influence and role, but he is not entitled to intrude into his private life’.
How very, very ironically that statement now reads.
Unsurprisingly, gay activists have been in no rush to embrace Jones. Indeed, a recent posting on the website Urban Dictionary offers the following definition to the verb ‘inning’:
To ‘in’ an embarrassing gay or lesbian person; the opposite of outing someone. To try to hide that they are GLBT because they are so conservative, usually employed as shock jocks or twisted journos.
‘Did you hear that Alan Jones was gay?’
‘Shut your mouth! We’re inning that loser!’
Whatever his motivation, what Jones has said and done this time is unconscionable and shouldn’t be allowed to be repeated.
And it seems that history might finally be turning against him, with a range of advertisers withdrawing from his program and a campaign launched to target them further through activist website Change.org.
The real solution is to get Jones off the air permanently. He could theoretically be forced to sell his 20 per cent stake in the station if he was found by the ABA to be not ‘a fit and proper person’ to hold a radio licence. But it will be a cold day in hell before that happens. No-one has so far failed that test.
The only alternative is a fully fledged boycott – of the advertisers, the program and the station.
Jones has form. He and shock-jocks like him are recidivists. It is only a question of time before the next bomb drops.