It’s enough to make you die of shame. Despite all that hate and bile directed at Alan Jones over his lamentable comments about Julia Gillard’s father, he has surged back to the top of Sydney’s radio ratings. The advertisers are back, he’s still on air and the campaign to send him into retirement has fallen completely flat.
I thought his comments about Gillard’s father were nasty and pathetic, much in keeping with this low brow partisan approach to life. However what I thought was worse was the lynch mob that gathered to tear him limb from limb. The campaign spoke much more of their need to vent spleen than any real concern or compassion for the PM’s late father.
What I thought was interesting was the empassioned denunciations of Jones from people who had previously been silent through his many gaffes and scandals. They seemed to discover their courage when they thought Jonesy was dead and buried. For years they had kept quiet, accepting his hospitality and patronage while apparently holding deep antipathies towards him.
Now that he has bounced back they will presumably be silent once more. Members of lynch mobs rarely retain their fortitude when the fury of the moment has passed and the crowd has dissipated. It looks particularly ordinary to continue repeating the same offensive material that generated their self-righteous rage. It begins to look like you are adopting it rather than condemning it.
The campaign hints at part of the problem with Australian journalism. There is an underlying contempt for the “punters” that listen to Jones and other shock jocks or buy the Herald Sun and the Daily Telegraph. Many reporters fail to realise they serve readers not their peers in the profession. It’s time to accept that, as unlovely as he is, Jones represents a group of older people in this country for whom the changes in society are profoundly unsettling. The world they grew up in is fast vanishing, the ideals they held dear are being swept aside. They especially don’t like being talked down to by the so-called quality journalism brigade. As journalists we should stop to remember that it is the judgement of the market that is most persuasive today. Blogs like this one provide infinite space for personal opinion and the venting of spleen.