There have been heaps of stories in the last few days about the repellent remarks Alan Jones made at a university Liberal fund-raiser 10 days ago.
The broadcaster said the Prime Minister’s father, Mr John Gillard, died of shame about his daughter.
Near universally, Alan Jones has been abandoned and discredited for his sentiments and his attitude. He’s been on national television and apologised for his words and deeds and so should just be allowed to get on with it, no?
Not exactly. He is continuing to be supported by the people who count – the people who employ him, who provide him with perks, who, directly or indirectly, fund his butler, his sometime chauffeur.
Yes, it is those people on the board of Macquarie Radio Network. And I also mean by that, the people who are still paying to advertise on his program, on his station and on his network, the advertisers who push their wares on 2GB and associated stations.
Jones has made a couple of misjudgments during his life and it is not just what he said at the Sydney University fund-raiser, Saturday a week ago. There is a misjudgment much more recent than that.
When he ‘‘apologised’’ on Sunday morning, he was absolutely sure his advertisers were rusted-on.
Here is what he said when a journalist asked him whether advertisers would stay with him and his program despite his completely inappropriate comments. It shows a complete lack of understanding about modern Australia and the way we communicate with each other.
‘‘The advertisers aren’t queuing up to pull their advertising. That’s a matter for the station ... I’m confident the station understands quite clearly what my position is and that the advertisers equally understand that and it will be business as usual.’’
But he underestimated the power of the ordinary women and men who have had more than enough. Who shop. Who invest money. Who drive cars.
We hit the phones, we hit the emails. We were on Twitter and Facebook despite the fact that we are in our 50s and 60s. I did it myself and I’m usually the kind of person who would just decide never to shop at Big W myself; or never to go to Harvey Norman; or never to fly Virgin.
But a year ago, I had the great pleasure of seeing the impact that social media had on an airline that continued to treat its customers with disdain and disrespect. When I made my complaints public, I got my money back and so did the others who were stuffed around.
But that was a private and individual problem – and not nearly at the level of significance as the comments made by Alan Jones. We can always work as individuals but it is never as effective as when we work together.
As Saturday night and Sunday morning proved. On Saturday night, someone posted Jones’s comments. I was a little late to the party (too busy dancing on the grave of the Hawks) but I started tweeting everyone I knew. I posted a note on the Destroy the Joint Facebook page. I phoned and emailed everyone on my list.
And I was just one middle-aged mother of three sitting at home with her laptop, dressed in red and white but red-hot with anger and menopausal flushes. Of course, they may have been exacerbated by the scarf.
There were so many of us, from racy Victorian comic Catherine Deveny to Australians you’ve never heard of, except they may well be your parents, your siblings, your children.
And it was our united despair that drove advertisers to act.
As I’m writing this, there is a list of companies that have withdrawn their advertising from the program of Alan Jones: Woolworths, Freedom Furniture, Challenger, Mercedes Benz. I hope there are more.
But I’m still waiting to hear from those who employ Alan Jones, those on the board of Macquarie Radio Network and other major shareholders.
Do you know any of them? Maybe you should write to them if you know them.
They include Russell Tate, who ran John Singleton’s advertising agency; Max Donnelly, a partner in consultants Ferrier Hodgson; and Maureen Plavsic who worked at Seven for a long time and is a trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria.
The right action would be for the entire board to stand Jones down for what he said the minute it was advised of the wrong doing. The broadcaster didn’t say it on air – but one can never separate Alan Jones from his job. The board is spineless and that’s despicable.
One more thing.
I don’t support Alan Jones’s politics. But I do think it is OK to dissect political positions, to attack governments (both Labor and Liberal) for abandoning refugees, abandoning health care, abandoning education.
Be as tough on Gillard as you were on Howard. But don’t bring their parents or their children, into the argument.
Tim and Janette? That’s another thing altogether.
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