Parrot, as HG Nelson called him, was pushed off his perch after Sky News refused to renew his contract.
In 36 years, Alan Jones has become one of the most powerful, divisive and socially destructive voices of Australian media to date.
At the same time, in terms of ratings, he became a phenomenon. In April 2020, he achieved his 226th ratings win in the Sydney Breakfast time slot, a performance that has never been equaled and probably never will.
It was a feat built on three foundations. He was vocal in the red-blooded language of conservative outrage that his listeners felt but did not put into words. He had an unmistakable penchant for the issues that would provoke him, and he made them believe that he was their champion in the corridors of power.
His broadcasting career began in 1985 when he joined Radio 2UE in Sydney as a morning host. He moved to the breakfast shift in 1988 and soon made it to number one.
In 2001, it went from 2UE to 2GB, taking a large portion of its audience with it and making that station number one in the Sydney Breakfast Market, a position that most recently followed shortly after Jones left in May 2020. returned after. For a long time, he was politically untouchable.
In 1999, they became known as the cash-for-comment scam. His evidence was dismissed as defying trust by Julian Burnside, QC, assisting attorney for the Australian Broadcasting Authority’s upcoming investigation.
Read more: Time suited him, then passed by: Alan Jones radio era ended
In 2000, the investigation drew unfavorable findings against him.
Politically, he remained untouched. Within a few weeks, he was hosting an event for John Howard, then prime minister, and in 2001, he dined with New South Wales Labor Premier Bob Carr to discuss government policy. Was doing.
The next week, Carr sent his designated police minister, Michael Costa, to the Jones home to discuss law-and-order policy.
For his part, Howard used Jones’ program to reach a segment of the audience known as “Howard’s Battlers” who called Jones Struggle Street, which has a large number in Sydney’s western suburbs and Where Jones has rated strongly.
To the extent that he was able to put this audience’s issues directly in front of the likes of Howard and Carr, Jones was really a voice for the otherwise voiceless in the corridors of power. Whether this had any effect on voting intentions is another question.
Author and social researcher Rebecca Huntley wrote that after 15 years of research, she found Jones no more influential with voters than ABC Radio or the Sydney Morning Herald. He concluded:
At 2GB for a long time, he was untouchable even commercially.
In 2005, he was found by the Australian Communications and Media Authority to have violated the Radio Code of Practice by inciting violence against people of Middle Eastern ethnicity in a series of incendiary broadcasts leading to the race riots at Cronulla Beach that year. Was.
ACMA specifically decided that it is enough to enter into “dialogue” with 2GB.
In 2012, he said that Julia Gillard, who was then prime minister, should be placed in a straw bag, taken to sea and thrown. Around the same time, he gave a speech at the Sydney University Liberal Club in which he said that Gillard’s recently deceased father had “died of shame” over the lies told by his daughter.
Following this, social media pressure on big advertisers such as Harvey Norman, Big W and Mercedes-Benz was so intense that Jones’ employer Macquarie Radio suspended all commercials on the show to take the pressure off them.
In 2019, Jones asked Scott Morrison, then known as the “2GB Prime Minister”, to walk down the throat of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. Jones was outraged that Ardern had said Australia would have to answer to the countries of the Pacific on climate change.
This time, advertisers boycotted the Jones show in large numbers, costing an estimated 50% of the show’s revenue for 2GB.
Macquarie Radio was getting sick of him. In addition to these advertising losses, in 2018, he cost the network $3.75 million in a defamation action brought by the four brothers, whom Jones caused the deaths of people in Grantham, near Toowoomba, during the 2011 Queensland floods. Falsely accused of being .
In May 2020, he retired from 2GB, but was dropped to Sky News with great fanfare for a private night spot at 8 p.m.
His rating was bad. He regularly came in fourth behind other Sky-at-Night luminaries such as Andrew Bolt, Paul Murray and Peta Credlin.
The COVID-19 propaganda he regularly spread on the show was a factor in Sky’s YouTube suspension for seven days in early August.
Shortly before that, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph removed his column, which he also used to spread COVID propaganda.
Whatever his talent, and no matter how impressive his record, he has been a scourge on Australian democracy.
Ultimately, it seems he has dropped out of the platform, not because he has damaged the social fabric, but because he is no longer offering good ratings and bringing in big advertising dollars.
This is how it was always going to end.