After a tumultuous 35-year career on Sydney’s airwaves, Alan Jones’ retirement announcement last week was welcomed by his critics, lamented by his ardent listeners and greeted with relief by those who have felt his wrath.
None of those reactions will have surprised Jones, who has brushed off decades of criticism over dozens of ugly controversies. As he embarks on his final week behind the microphone on his 2GB breakfast show, a damning decision by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) must surely sting – not to mention, rain on his farewell parade.
The broadcast regulator was asked to rule on Jones’ misogynistic on-air attack of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In the tirade, he urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to “shove a sock down her throat”, “get tough with a few backhanders” and “go for her throat”.
Amid universal condemnation, he apologised quickly but this time it was too late – a social media campaign led by the online group Mad F—ing Witches was unleashed in a bid to convince his show’s sponsors to pull the advertisements which helped pay his $4 million-a-year salary. The 79-year-old resigned last week but many say he had no choice.
In the judgment, ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said: “The repeated use of violent metaphors by Mr Jones and his apparent encouragement of aggressive silencing of Ms Ardern was highly offensive and did not meet contemporary community expectations.”