Its been an interesting week watching conservative radio bully boy Alan Jones getting a thorough trashing at the hands of normal Australians who have had enough of the bile he spews out every day (I'd always hoped the cash for comment affair could have done this, or even better the London loo incident, but sadly not).
This time round Jones' comments about the death of the Prime Minister's father managed to annoy enough people that there was a concerted effort led by various Facebook and Twitter users (in particular Sack Alan Jones and Destroy The Joint) to tell advertisers to either cease supporting his program or find themselves doing a lot of damage to their brands, with most of them promptly abandoning Jones to his fate and the program subsequently going advertisement free.
Alan Kohler at the BS has a good summary - Alan Jones: it’s about disintermediation.
Corporate leaders everywhere would be watching the predicament of Russell Tate and Robert Loewenthal, chairman and CEO of Macquarie Radio Network, with a mixture of fascination and horror.The SMH reports that Tony Abbott's replacement in waiting Malcolm Turnbull was happy to see Jones get a taste of his own medicine - Jones has not been bullied - Turnbull.
A social media campaign against one their products, the Alan Jones breakfast programme, and directed at their business customers as well as their own company, has forced them to cancel all advertising on that show.
For those who have recently flown in from Mars, it started with a speech by broadcaster Alan Jones to the Sydney University Liberal Club dinner on September 22nd, eventually reported in the Sunday Telegraph, in which he said: “They [Labor] are indeterminate and compulsive liars. They’ll lie and lie and lie. Every person in the caucus of the Labor party knows that Julia Gillard is a liar. Everybody, I’ll come to that in a moment. The old man recently died a few weeks ago of shame. To think that he had a daughter who told lies every time she stood for parliament.”
The suggestion that John Gillard died of shame has been widely and appropriately condemned, and Jones himself called a press conference last week to (sort of) apologise. Meanwhile 70 companies withdrew their advertising from his programme, either because they didn’t like what he said or because their social media monitoring services had picked up that their own customers didn’t like it.
Yesterday Russell Tate issued a long statement in which he announced the temporary suspension of all advertising in its Breakfast Show, blaming “21st century censorship, via cyber bullying”.
Also, the MC for the evening on September 22nd, Simon Berger lost his job as public relations and government relations manager at Woolworths, having apparently worn a chaff bag onstage to introduce Alan Jones (a reference to Jones’ frequent calls for Julia Gillard to be put in a chaff bag and thrown out to sea).
The “Sack Alan Jones” Facebook page has 15,486 “likes”, which doesn’t seem that many to have caused such carnage, but there has been a lot more to it than that.
There’s a petition on change.org with 109,962 signatories, another Facebook community called “Destroy The Joint”, after a statement by Alan Jones that women are “destroying the joint”, plus an uncountable number of tweets and hashtags on Twitter.
Russell Tate was both right and wrong in the statement that I quoted above: it is, indeed, 21st century censorship, but to call it bullying misses the point.
The digital revolution is only just getting going, and the social platforms, Twitter and Facebook, which has just passed a billion users, are only just starting to flex their muscle. There is a long way to go with this. Censorship up to the end of the 20th century involved community representatives – the church and then politicians – imposing limits on free speech. With social media, the community does it more directly and much more uncontrollably. ...
The essence of change that occurred between the 20th and 21st centuries is disintermediation. It is happening much more broadly than in censorship, but in that field of human endeavour, as it is everywhere, social media and the digital revolution generally, is simply and powerfully removing the intermediaries.
The organisation and expression of community disapproval has become incredibly powerful because it is spontaneous, immediate and clearly authentic.
That’s the difference between a social media campaign and a rap on the knuckles by the Australian Communication and Media Authority, the media regulator: you can argue about whether ACMA truly represents community opinion; with Facebook and Twitter you can actually see and feel it.
ALAN JONES has been ''given a dose of his own medicine'' with the online campaign that has stripped his station of sponsors, and is not the victim of ''cyberbullying'' as he has claimed, the Coalition communication spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull, has said. ...The SMH had an earlier article from Peter Fitzsimmons describing the origin of the boycott campaign - Alan Jones has no shame.
''Mr Jones has sought to lead 'people's revolts' for many years. But this was indeed a popular revolt against vicious and destructive public discourse … It is difficult not to believe that he is getting a dose of his own medicine …
''Mr Jones has complained that he has been the victim of social media bullying, saying that if it happened anywhere else in society, this kind of bullying or harassment or intimidation or threatening conduct, the police would be called in …
''But Mr Jones believes his association with certain products will encourage people to buy them … If other people take the view that an association with Mr Jones will lead them not to buy those products, why are they not able to tell the advertiser of their view and encourage others to do the same?''
Every time you think 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones has gone as low as he can go, he sets a new benchmark ever deeper in his now obviously bottomless barrel.
Not enough that he has already talked of putting the Prime Minister “into a chaff bag and hoisting her into the Tasman Sea,” or that he has said that the country needs to “bring back the guillotine,” to deal with her, and that across the country “women are wrecking the joint". Now, before an audience of Sydney University Young Liberals last weekend at the Watermark Restaurant at Balmoral he has referred to the grieving PM's late father, John Gillard – a man who was obviously very close to, and extremely proud, of his daughter – and said that he, “died a few weeks ago of shame".
The unspeakably vicious nastiness of it, the sheer bully-boy misogyny of saying such a thing, simply takes the breath away, even for those of us who spent fair chunks of time around the unvarnished Jones.