Off-shoots of the Jones scandal

There’s so many off-shoot stories to the Alan Jones drama that it’s hard to know where to start.

First, let’s all agree that his comments about Julia Gillard’s late father “dying of shame” were inappropriate, out of line and offensive.

But surprising? Not really. Jones, the doyen of breakfast radio, has been bordering on such controversy for some time, and it was obvious that his relentless attacks on the Prime Minister were going to land him in trouble eventually.

Not because he’s wrong about her carbon tax lies or a range of Federal Government debacles, but because he has too often slid into personal attacks that only damage his own credibility, not that of Ms Gillard.

Last year, he verbally slapped her around for being about 10 minutes late to an interview on his program – the irony being that he only wasted more time chastising Ms Gillard for her tardiness, when he could have started firing questions in the national interest.

Then there’s the whole chaff bag line, a favourite of Jones for a while now. There’s plenty to criticise Julia Gillard about, and Jones is right in much of what he says about the Federal Government, but he does himself nor his listeners, to whom he holds a great responsibility, no favours by delivering personal attacks, unrelated to policy direction or the state of the nation.

The other unfortunate thing this whole episode does is tarnish further the reputation of talk radio, particularly amongst those whose radio dials are stuck on FM, blissfully unaware of many of the issues that we face as a world, a country, a state and a city. You know, the ones who think Kim Kardashian being in Australia is news.

Talk radio can be an exceptionally powerful tool that can turn wrongs into rights, expose the dirt of our society and help those most in need. It breaks news, it delivers results and can have an enormous and legitimately positive impact on an issue, big or small.

At its best, there is no better form of media anywhere on the planet. But at its worst, just like any power used wrongly, it can be very muddy. Jones’ listeners won’t go anywhere. I can almost guarantee you that most, if not all, of the signatures on petitions to sack him from 2GB have been signed by people who don’t listen to Jones anyway.

And I can also guarantee you that the sponsors and advertisers taking some sort of false moral ground by walking away from Jones will come back eventually.

They always do.

2GB won’t be sacking him, either. He owns a fair chunk of the station anyway, so I doubt he’ll be giving himself a termination letter.

In truth I don’t believe Jones really thinks he’s done all that much wrong. His apology and his actions over the last few days would suggest he regrets getting caught much more than he does making the comments.

So where to from here? Well, by this time next week the story will be over, and with any luck, this time around, Jones may just change his tact slightly. He will still be an attack dog, which is exactly what he is paid to be, but perhaps he’ll focus more on playing the game rather than the man.

A few side points to finish on.

Firstly, the argument over whether Jones’ comments should have been made public given they were at a private function is a mute point. Anyone who honestly believes Jones wouldn’t have been the first one to report it had the roles been reversed is kidding themselves.

Secondly, Wayne Swan should get back to worrying about the country’s finances rather then appointing himself President of the Alan Jones hate society. He would do well to take a leaf out of his Prime Minister’s book and shut his mouth on the issue, rather than writing opinion pieces calling Jones a “bullyboy” and a “whinger”, which in reality, makes him no better than Jones.

Jones’ comments were wrong.

And perhaps, in a way, they were the red light he needed to ensure his attacks and words are correctly targeted and more credible in the future.