Alan Jones is, many people believe, a misogynist. Yet the most common word used for him by online detractors is arguably the most misogynist in the English language. Similarly, people usually scathing of homophobia don’t hesitate to call Jones a ‘bitter old queen’.
What do we do about a man who brings out the worst in us all?
- ‘love letter’ to a student
- ‘cash for comment’
- George Pell
- accusations of racism and misogyny
- foul-mouthed rants
- the infamous Chopper Read ambush
Jones, one of Australia’s best paid and most influential media figures, hosts a Sydney breakfast show on radio station 2GB.
On 15 August he said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison should “shove a sock down [New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern’s] throat.”
After near universal condemnation, he apologised.
He said he had to “man up, pivot, face it, and apologise.”
The words are a similar formula to that he used when called to account for saying former PM Julia Gillard’s father “died of shame.”
“There are days when you just have to concede and man up and say, ‘you got it wrong.'”
Seems he never learnt the first time.
On 17 August Macquarie Media, which owns 2GB, announced they would fire Alan Jones for any repeated transgressions.
Macquarie chairman Russell Tate said, “Notwithstanding apologies, I have today discussed the matter with Alan and advised him that any recurrence of commentary of this nature will result in the termination of his contract.”
“Shove a sock down her throat”
The general response to the ‘shove a sock down her throat’ comment focused on the implied violence.
However, that neglects the sexual context.
Why ‘down her throat’?
Certainly socks are sometimes shoved into mouths as gags to silence people.
But ‘down her throat’?
A commenter on the Alan Jones Facebook page gave the game away when he posted, “You should have told her to E.A.D.”
The Urban Dictionary defines E.A.D. as ‘eat a dick’.
Socks, of course, conveniently rhymes with cocks.
A woman should know her place.
Put a dick in her mouth and shut her up.
There’s been a lot of violent sexual innuendo in social media political discourse of late.
Commenters on the Australian Christian Lobby Facebook page regularly complain of the ‘rainbow cult shoving it’s agenda down our throats’.
Again, an implication of forced oral sex. Gays are supposedly nothing more than cocksuckers and predators. Hence LGBTIQ visibility equates to ‘shoving it’s agenda down our throats’.
Describing the rainbow communities as a ‘cult’ is also notable – the term generally used to describe a fringe, and often dangerous, religious group.
Alan Jones celebrates his birthday on April 13.
His actual birthdate, however, is uncertain.
The age attributed to him in various newspaper reports over the years would place his birth in either 1943, 1944 or 1945.
However, he began his education at Acland Primary School in 1946 making 1941 the most probable year.
He later attended Toowoomba Grammar School as a boarder. After his schooling, he studied at Kelvin Grove Teachers College before obtaining work at Brisbane Grammar School.
Moving to Sydney at the age of 29, he taught at the elite King’s School.
Jones left there after a negotiated resignation. Although the discovery of a love letter he wrote to a student prompted his departure, it seems his reputation as a bully played a large role in the episode.
While Jones never gave the letter to the student he wrote it about, internet comment takes it as evidence of grooming.
However, the many online accusations of paedophilia ignore that despite many former students not hesitating to express criticism of him, it appears not one ever accused him of sexual impropriety.
There is plenty to criticise Jones for.
There is nothing to gain by making shit up.
Despite that, Jones heightened online speculation in 2016 with his defence of George Pell on the ABC’s Q&A.
Before Pell himself ever faced accusations of child sexual abuse, some suggested the church should dismiss the cardinal over his lack of action over reports of child abuse.
Jones disagreed because of Pell’s relative youth at the time of the reports – a mere 28-years-old.
Kate Aubusson wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald that Jones “appeared to absolve all those aged 28-years-and-under of moral and ethical responsibility as he defended Cardinal George Pell’s response to the sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church.”
Earlier this year, after Pell’s conviction for child sexual abuse, Jones said only repugnance and abhorrence should be directed at anyone guilty of child abuse.
But he went on to question at length the unanimous jury decision.
Post teaching career
After leaving teaching, Jones managed a small airline in rural NSW.
He then stood for a ‘safe’ Liberal seat in a NSW by-election – and lost it. When he again tried for the seat in the state election, the Labor candidate increased his majority.
Jones then worked as a football administrator and coach.
In 1985, he began his radio career.
Never adverse to express an unpopular opinion, Jones pissed off progressive Australians even before he began on radio.
As Paul Malone reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, Jones, as Wallabies coach, “was a high-profile defender of the [South African] white-minority government. He debated rivals and tried to arrange an Australian team tour of the pariah country.”
Then, in 1993, Jones declared that naming Yothu Yindi’s Mandawuy Yunupingu as Australian of the Year was an insult and ridiculous.
Further he said the distinguished First Australian only received the award because he was ‘black’.
Aboriginal activist Charlie Perkins spoke to popular sentiment when he told Jones on national TV he was a racist and redneck.
Accusations of racism occurred again in 2018 when Jones used, and then defended using, the phase ‘n***** in the woodpile’.
He did later – yet again – admit to a mistake.
Jones wrote for a time for the Sydney Sun-Herald.
However the articles stopped in 1990 after an opinion piece predicting an oil crisis.
Much of the article proved to be lifted from a Frederick Forsyth novel – a work of fiction – without attribution.
In 2000 ABC’s Media Watch documented further cases of what they termed the radio broadcaster’s “scant regard for other people’s intellectual property.”
Cash for comment
In 1999, the ABC broke the story that Jones and fellow broadcaster John Laws recieved secret payments to present paid promotional content as news.
While the payments were not illegal at the time, the scandal brought about changes in the law.
Further controversy erupted in 2004 on the discovery that David Flint, head of the Australian Broadcasting Authority which enforced the regulations, was a friend of Jones.
Fawning letters written to Jones during the ‘Cash for Comment’ investigation led to Flint’s resignation.
In 2005, Jones read out and discussed on his show a text message encouraging vigilantism.
“Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge… get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day”.
The Australian Media and Communication Authority later found the broadcasts, “likely to encourage violence or brutality and to vilify people of Lebanese and Middle-Eastern backgrounds on the basis of ethnicity.”
Brittney Rigby summed it up best on Mumbrella.
“Alan Jones has a problem with women. Powerful women. Especially powerful women he disagrees with. His preference for responding to those women? Suggesting physical force to shut them up.”
In 2012, Jones suggested putting Julia Gillard in a chaff bag and leaving her at sea.
The same year he said female leaders were “destroying the joint.”
In 2017, he joked about hanging Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore “58 metres over George St.”
That same year he warned NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian that her head was “in a noose.”
The latest outburst against Jacinda Arden is only the latest in a long line of such comments.
If Jones is like this in public, what is he like in private?
Some years ago someone leaked tapes of off-air recordings of Jones in his 2UE days. In them he goes on foul-mouthed rants, puts down his bosses, staff, advertisers and even it seems, his listeners.
“Hello, I’m Alan Jones and it gives me the absolute shits to report that I’ll be back on Monday morning with all you f*ckwits.”
And there’s more…
Few Australian media personalities ended up in court and tribunals as often as Alan Jones over their on air comments.
We can’t afford the bandwidth to dwell at length on all the cases, but here are a few.
- 1990: Orderd to pay damages for defaming a former councillor of the NRMA.
- 1992: Guilty of contempt of court after an interview on his show resulted in the trial of a former police officer being aborted.
- 1994: Sued by former president of NRMA.
- 2002: Settled a defamation action out of court with a NSW female Police Detective Chief Inspector.
- 2008: Found to have defamed John Coates of the Australian Olympic Committee.
- 2012: Breached the radio code of practice in his reporting of environmental issues.
- 2015: Sued by former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and deputy Jeff Seeney.
- 2018: Successfully sued by Toowoomba’s Wagner family over repeated comments wrongly blaming them for the deaths of 12 people during the 2010-11 Queensland floods.
The question of what drives Alan Jones is often asked.
Journalist Chris Masters speculated on that topic in his book Jonestown: The Power and the Myth of Alan Jones.
“The masking of his homosexuality is a defining feature of the Jones persona.
“Jones’s apparent self-belief that, on the one hand, he is damaged and, on the other hand, special, goes a long way to explaining an unusual personality.
“It informs consistently curious behaviour, his private self frequently intruding on the public self.”
The fact that Alan Jones is gay was apparently never any great secret.
Fellow schoolteachers at King’s School semed aware, and perhaps even some of the students.
Phillip Adams, host of Radio National’s ‘Late Night Live’ who has known Jones for decades said, “Outing Jones is like revealing that the Pope’s a Catholic.”
Any doubt was removed in 1998 by celebrity criminal Chopper Read.
Amidst a hullabaloo about Read’s appearance on an ABC comedy show, Kerri-Anne Kennerley backtracked on a decision to interview Read on her show.
“We took the high moral ground,” she boasted.
Instead, she brought on Alan Jones who also appeared to take the high moral ground, without any hint of irony.
“If we turn to the society and situation where people please themselves how they deal with those whom they don’t like, then who is to be the next victim?”
However Read, who rang into the show, brought up the incident 10 years before when Jones was arrested in a London toilet.
Kennerley cut off Read, went to a commercial break and returned with Jones nowhere in evidence.
It should be pointed out that both charges against Jones in 1988 were dismissed.
Chopper Read and Alan Jones with Kerri-Anne Kennerley
Alan Jones has always avoided comment on his sexuality.
When a caller to his show asked, “Alan, are you a homosexual?” he brushed her off.
Phillip Adams once wrote of his discussions with Jones when the broadcaster returned from London after his arrest in 1988.
“I urged him to come all the way out of the closet… and to learn from his bitter experience. Having been judged and lynched by the media, he’d be a better broadcaster if he stopped judging and lynching others.
“Alan’s sexuality was never an issue for the Left, but it was a huge issue for Alan. My conversations with him made it clear he dreaded the prim disapproval of friends on the Right. So he stayed in the closet.
“More important, it shows how a young man growing up when homosexuality was branded a perversion, when Australian police hunted and entrapped gay men, might develop a desperate need for acceptance and approval.”
Many now predict the demise of Alan Jones’s career.
Many previously predicted the same, on many many occasions.
His career is like a vampire. It just keeps on surviving, no matter how many stakes driven through it’s heart.
But at least a vampire dies once exposed to the harsh light of day.
Jones’s career lives on no matter how much light is shone on his misdeeds.
Currently he is at one with the Australian Christian Loby in defending Israel Folau.
To many of us it seems outrageous that a homosexual has for so long defended some of Australia’s most virulently homophobic personalities.
Paul Howes, former Vice-President of the ACTU once described Jones as, “A man who seeks the adulation of an audience that would likely loathe his core DNA were it not hidden from view.”
And that maybe sums it up.
Jones is (perhaps) 78-years-old.
He will continue claiming to represent the battlers of Struggle St, despite his own reputedly butlered and chauffeured Downton Abbeyish lifestyle.
And then he’ll be gone.
But no doubt plenty of young fogeys are ready and willing to take his place.
People will do a lot for a dollar.
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