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Alan Jones warns Labor pollies: ignore me at your peril

The advertisers may have returned to Alan Jones’ program, but Labor MPs have not. The veteran broadcaster tells Crikey why he couldn’t care less.

Alan Jones isn’t perturbed that Labor politicians appear to be boycotting his top-rating talkback program, the controversial shock jock insists to Crikey. They’re doing his listeners — and his ratings — a favour.

But, in a rare interview, Jones says members of the Gillard government would be “fools” not to talk to him if they want to avoid a drubbing at the polls.

The Alan Jones Breakfast Show on 2GB — once considered the most influential radio show in Australia — has been a Labor-free zone since last September, when news broke Jones had said Julia Gillard’s father “died of shame”. Jones is unable to recall a federal Labor MP accepting an interview request in recent months and there is no record on 2GB’s website of any Labor appearances since October.

We do put in regular requests [to speak to Labor MPs] but you can appreciate you reach the point where you give up bothering,” Jones told Crikey via email.

By contrast, Labor MPs such as Stephen Conroy, Nicola Roxon and New South Wales Opposition Leader John Robertson have recently appeared on Ray Hadley’s 9am 2GB shift. On Thursday, Gillard appeared on Ben Fordham’s drive-time program.

Jones says he isn’t bothered by the regular Labor rebuffs for three reasons:

One, these people never, ever answer questions. Two, they are very economical with the truth. And three, no one is listening.  So I can do without having my audience switch off because they’re on. So they’re most probably doing me a favour,” he said.

According to Jones, Mark Butler, the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, agreed to an interview last week only to pull out at the last minute.

[I]t’s quite clear that someone is telling these people that they’re not allowed to appear. I have simply represented that as their right to say no, but it has been universal,” he said.

A 2GB source said: “I’m sure the word has gone out — either from Gillard or McTernan — that no one from the ministry is to have anything to do with us.”

Butler’s office told Crikey last week’s interview was cancelled because of “scheduling problems”; a spokesperson says they’re not aware of any official edict not to appear on the program. The Prime Minister’s communications chief John McTernan did not respond to Crikey’s requests for comment.

Jones said he’d be surprised, with the polls pointing to electoral defeat, if Labor MPs don’t soften their stance ahead of September 14: “I would have thought they’d be fools if they don’t. I do have the largest radio audience in the country. But it’s up to them.”

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese announced he was boycotting the program in October over the “died of shame” comments, saying the broadcaster had overstepped the bounds of reasonableness. Then attorney-general Nicola Roxon, however, refused to rule out appearing again because Jones’ listeners deserve to hear a range of views.

According to a former senior staffer in Gillard’s communications department, the decision to avoid Jones’ program is likely to be driven by tactical considerations as well as outrage over his insensitive remarks. In Canberra, Jones’ audience is perceived to be old, conservative and set in its ways while Hadley is seen as having greater influence with “aspirational” swinging voters in the marginal seats of western Sydney.

McTernan recently approached Hadley to have a beer — an offer the combative presenter publicly shot down. Meanwhile, FM hosts such as Kyle and Jackie O appeal to younger first-time voters and have a softer interview style than Jones, who regularly shouts over guests he disagrees with.

Jones remains the highest-rating Sydney radio host, but took a tumble in the most survey. His average audience fell from 172,000 to 145,000; audience share dropped from 18.2% to 15.4%.

The Prime Minister last appeared on Jones’ program in February 2011, when he scolded her for being 10 minutes late for the interview and then went on to call her “Ju-liar”. He later called for her, and Greens leader Bob Brown, to be thrown out to sea in a chaff bag. Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, Barry O’Farrell and other senior Coalition members have all appeared on Jones’ show in recent months.

41
  • 1
    bluepoppy
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Alan Jones is a commentator not an elected representative. What does he expect given his previous extremist behaviour. Would any person re-visit someone who acted so callously and rudely for a dose of he same. You’d have to be a bit doolally. When shock jock media upstarts start calling the shots as to who should or who should not speak to them, then we know our democracy is doomed.

  • 2
    drmick
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Jones has lost it. In his dreamworld he thinks he runs the show. His “listeners” or 00.0153% of the population of rusted on old, taxi driving, white, raci$t, hillbilly lynch mob throwbacks, including the convoy of the incontinent, will not be able to comprehend any answers that may happen to get through anyway.
    Best they all vote for the other redhead with the fish shop that they know and trust despite Abbo getting her jailed to stop them voting for her last time

  • 3
    Scott
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    It’s great to stand up for principle, but we are talking about politics. For better or for worse, Alan Jones is hugely influential in the west of Sydney; talking to him is the equivalent of 100 Rooty Hill RSL missions.
    Politically, you ignore him at your peril.

  • 4
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Economical with the truth”? ….. as adjudicated by Jones, with his history of being “comical” (at best) with it?

  • 5
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone really listen to Jones to have their jaundiced prejudices challenged?

    ….anyway, who listens to the radio, that’s what I’d like to know…

  • 6
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Scott;
    I doubt his audience is that relevant to the ALP. Apart from the fact his audience figures are no more than a Saturday Age or SMH and declining at a similar rate,and his influence is directed at died in the wool rednecks,I doubt his influence on an ALP vote in the electorate at large.
    Why Crikey could be bothered giving the subject this space is what confuses me.
    Perhaps Brendan Bahen observation “the only bad publicity you may endure is your own epitaph” is relevant.

  • 7
    zut alors
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Clearly, Jones is being denied oxygen.

    I doubt a single vote would be gained by any Labor MP being interviewed on his radio programme.

    But it’s likely that substantial votes would be at risk if the Opposition Leader was sufficiently brave to be interviewed on ABC TV by Jones, Alberici or Sales.

  • 8
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Labor Ministers and MP boycott any media that asks hard questions. They flock to wimp journalists who dont ask Labor / Greens hard questions like on the ABC. Simple really

  • 9
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    If Jones achieves his aim of eliminating the Labor Party what will he have left to complain about?
    He’ll turn on the Liberals?
    Could start practising now to show us what that might sound like.
    Simple really.

  • 10
    mikehilliard
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    The only “hard’ part about Jones level of question is listening to it.

  • 11
    Kevin
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne Blake, you crack me up every time.

  • 12
    MJPC
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    SB, and Tony Abbott only gets interviewed purposely by News Ltd hacks because he knows they will carry the LNP line without fail; easily as simple.

  • 13
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    @MJPC Not true, there are LNP critics at News and on Sky, but no ALP critics on the ABC. Look at the rails run they get on 730, Insiders, Drum, Lateline, you name it

  • 14
    Mark from Melbourne
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Jones doesn’t actually ask hard questions. Or even particularly relevant ones. He just uses the guests as someone to stand on instead of the usual soapbox.

    Not sure why he is worth the column cm’s you’ve just wasted.

  • 15
    AJH
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    I hope Alan Jones stays on the air for a long time. His show performs an extremely valuable public service.

    I can instantly identify his listeners, because they start pretty much every conversation with: “Did you hear what Alan Jones said this morning?”. I then know they are not worth talking to, and can safely ignore them and walk away.

    It’s a very valuable public service, and the time-savings in avoiding pointless conversations must have a perceptible influence on the nation’s GDP.

  • 16
    Iskandar
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Agree with Mark from Melbourne and others. Alan Jones doesn’t interview his guests, particularly when they hold views opposite to his, he just shouts them down. Julia Guillard got it right when she cynically apologised for interrupting his questions with answers during her Jones “interview”. The clapped-out old bogan is really not worth any attention.

  • 17
    Liz45
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I’l like to see the stats re Jones insisting on ‘having the largest audience’ in Sydney! I don’t know anyone who listens to him. As for boycotting his show. I recall in the early 1980’s the Ethnic Council?? boycotting John Singleton due to his outrageous and racist treatment of a female member of the then Labor Govt? I was participating in a one day seminar at the newly set up Anti-Discrimination Centre. We were at the Ethnic Council and heard about it first hand. The footage was pretty revolting, and their decision, agreed to by all present, that they wouldn’t appear on his show again!

    I think Jones is a very ugly person, and his physical appearance isn’t much chop either! I find him very nasty for nasty sake? Why would I listen to him. I find Ray Hadley to be in the same mould. His treatment of his fellow workers is also repugnant to me, if the articles in the SMH etc are accurate. One brave technology person recorded his offensive tirade on his smart phone! Smart move! I’d advocate all his ‘colleagues’ doing the same thing - and guess who over ruled his boss? John Singleton who has the most shares in the company? Now why doesn’t that surprise me? These ugly people need to have action taken against them? Perhaps Barry O’Farrells new racial vilification legislation will be a sobering influence, but I’m not holding my breath! I support the ALP giving Jones a wide berth? I wouldn’t spit on him if he was on fire! He’s an obnoxious bully who covers up his own ignorance with abuse!

  • 18
    Liz45
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    @klewso - I listen to the local ABC all day, until 7PM then I watch ABC news and 7.30? I learn something new every day either via interviews or AM or The World Today or PM? Good programs all. I also listen to The Country Hour and learn heaps about agriculture, challenges farmers meet every day; cost of milk, beef etc. What’s discarded, what’s included in the cost of cattle etc. Suicides in the dairy industry caused by supermarkets race to the bottom re their own brand milk? I suggest you listen, I’d recommend everyone listen or take a look at their web page! All educational stuff!

  • 19
    drmick
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Must have been on one float too many. He gave up any pretence of fair and balanced a long time ago when he was a speech writer for Malcolm Fraser.
    Why would anyone bother? All you are going to get is body fluids, either by way of a spray, or from fawning drooling adulation. Keep dry and well away from the clown and his private circus.

  • 20
    Honest Johnny
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    The minute Jones called the PM “Ju-liar” and not by her title he abrogated any hope of ever getting her and her Cabinet colleagues back on his breakfast show. As in life, if some idiot misbehaves or is disrespectful towards you, you steer clear of them. Bragging and chest thumping only reinforces the view to stay away. Simple really.

  • 21
    Steve777
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Alan Jones does not have the power that he or others imagine he has. He is preaching to the converted. I don’t listen to commercial radio but occasionally hear grabs of him on taxis or in shops. Anyone whose politics aren’t of the far, authoritarian right would soon tune out. I would even say that he exploits his listeners, pressing on their hot buttons to create outrage and increase his ratings. But he does’t change any votes.

  • 22
    Steve777
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    In any case, I just don’t get Alan Jones, Ray Hadley and their ilk. Why do people listen? I wouldn’t want angry voices bellowing bile and vitriol while I was having breakfast or getting ready for work even if they said things I agreed with. There must be a lot of angry people out there, unhappy with the deal they have in life, who like to hear someone articulate their fears, prejudices and anger that the world is not as they would like it to be.

  • 23
    Steve777
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne - “Look at the rails run they get on 730, Insiders, Drum, Lateline, you name it”

    The rails run the ALP gets from IPA functionaries on The Drum? From Peter Reith? From Gerard Henderson, Piers Ackerman and Niky Savva on the Insiders? The ABC goes out of its way to achieve what is sees as ‘balance’.

    On the other hand, Tony Abbott hides from scrutiny. He won’t be seen on 7:30 or Lateline or anywhere where he’s likely to be challenged. He will only appear among friends, donning a hard hat and florescent vest before junior local reporters to go through his bullet points of the day.

  • 24
    geomac62
    Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Walkaway Tony becomes fawning tony when Jones or similar have him on . Chris Ulhmann becomes fawning chris when Abbott ventures to the ABC . If Abbott encounters Emma or Leigh he becomes stumbling , scrambling tony . Thankfully or perhaps unfortunately Abbott rarely ventures away from safe interviews . At pressers or doorstops he becomes walkaway tony once a hard question is asked . A bit like a barbie doll friend is Tony , changes a lot .

  • 25
    Malcolm Street
    Posted Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Steve777 - on The Drum if anyone gets a rails run it’s the IPA, inter alia the tobacco industry’s best friend.

  • 26
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Abbott was ambushed by Sales that one time - look at the way she treats other conservatives - a veritable coquettish, butter-fingered, flibbertigibbet “Gushing Gertie” - compared to her inquisitorial demeanour reserved for the Left. Why wouldn’t he have shown up expecting “business as usual”. Like the likes of Turnbull get? Bishop, Pyne, Hockey et al get a smile at the end.
    Alberici is little different.

  • 27
    zut alors
    Posted Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    klewso, you obviously missed Alberici’s interview with Turnbull on 21 August.

  • 28
    frey
    Posted Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    @klewso

    Seriously, you think Abbott was ambushed?

    He was unprepared for fairly simple questioning about a topic that was at the forefornt on that day and lied to try and get through it.

    If you want ambushed try looking at Seven’s ‘Shit Happens’ interview where you see Abbott reduced to a quivering mess (and on-line for the full *minutes* of that).

    Not that you will ever get to see him answer any difficult question again as he just walks away now rather than face scrutiny.

  • 29
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Tony Abbott is a product of a PR machine. He has yet to offer a coherent policy on any subject apart from the Federal Government moneyed support for the Surf Life Savers ($10m pa).
    Voters don’t get the government they want, but what the MSM and media moguls condescend we should have.
    It is time we threw off the Murdoch political yoke.

  • 30
    Will
    Posted Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    This is good. There was something fundamentally absurd normal situation where non-conservative politician would go on Jones’ program as part of ritualistic submission to his overbearing scolding and agitprop framing. In reality, he is attached to the fading power of his medium and demographic. He will be meaningless with the march of time, and tolerating him just showed how spineless they were.

    Now, if we can finally axe public service advertising with the OZ please?

  • 31
    mikeb
    Posted Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Jones speaks to the converted. There is no value in a Labor pollie being a guest on his show as there is nothing to gain and they can be sure nothing positive would come of it. He is influential only in his own lunch box. Why he still get attention from the rest of the media and Coalition pollies is a complete mystery.

  • 32
    mikeb
    Posted Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    The ALP should distribute Chris Master’s “Jonestown” to every address in Western Sydney. Maybe the publishers could do a deal on such a sizeable purchase? There would have to be a clue to a secret prize inserted somewhere in the text to encourage them to read it. I’m sure Chris wouldn’t mind adding that given the royalties coming his way.

  • 33
    Holden Back
    Posted Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    It’s always amusing the way accusations of media bias seem to cut both ways, frequently on the same interviewer.

  • 34
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Zut, I did catch that one dig of “Waffles”, facing her, that night, and I thought she did have him in trouble on that pitch a couple of times - for a change.
    “One/year”?
    But I reckon she also dropped a couple of “caught & bowled” sitters too. Letting him duck off to some “American(?)” tangent (re this sort of technology), when he had trouble picking the spin. And why, if he’s as experienced an investor as he is, didn’t she ask him why he’s investing in technology that he’s denigrating for the politics?
    And she let him get away with his “Don’t interupt my red-herring waffle”, at another stage, while he didn’t answer another question?

  • 35
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    frey :- Abbott had every right to think he was due for a soft interview with Sales - going on her soft-soap treatment of other conservatives.
    Of course he was unprepared for the hard questions, that go beyond rhetoric - he’s always unprepared for that sort of scrutiny.
    He lives on soft media …. like some moulds on soft cheese!

  • 36
    Clive Morton
    Posted Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Alan who?

  • 37
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Of ourse when they (probably) lose he can blame them for not coming on his sideshow.

  • 38
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 13 March 2013 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    Zut, was it October when she had Emerson and Dutton on - when things got a bit uncomfortable “Slug” made that sleazy reference to “Emerson and Gillard’s liaison” (what do they say away from the recorders?), that she let go, without pulling him up?

  • 39
    Melinda Hughes
    Posted Wednesday, 13 March 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Why would anyone with an ounce of credibility or intelligence want to go on this show ? This man refers to anyone he disagrees with as “these people” , he has repeatedly thrown disgusting insults at the Prime Minister and other women in positions of authority, he has made inflammatory racist comments and used lies to back up his arguments.
    Why is he still on air?

  • 40
    Edward James
    Posted Wednesday, 13 March 2013 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Get your head straight voters. Alan Jones is a conduit through which certain entities may exercise their influences. australia is not a country which needs tower apartment and development driven endzones !

  • 41
    ltfisher
    Posted Wednesday, 13 March 2013 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Have I missed something? Alan who?

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