Australian radio host condemned for 'sock in her throat' comment about Jacinda Ardern

Joanna Taylor
Thursday 21 May 2020 06:30
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(Mark Tantrum / Cole Bennetts / Getty Images)

An Australian radio host breached broadcasting decency rules when he suggested Jacinda Ardern should have a sock shoved "down her throat", a watchdog found.

The Australia Communications Media Authority (ACMA) ruled that comments made by veteran broadcaster Alan Jones on 15 August last year went against their community standards on decency.

Jones delivered his tirade against New Zealand's PM on his breakfast show for Sydney's 2GB radio.

I just wonder whether Scott Morrison's going to be fully briefed to shove a sock down her throat.

Jones used a string of violent metaphors to describe how he hoped a meeting between Ardern and Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison would unfold.

"I hope Scott Morrison gets tough here with a few backhanders", he said. "I hope he goes for the throat this morning".

ACMA chair Nerida O'Loughlin issued a statement condemning Jones's "highly offensive" language.

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. 

This was evident in the public display of outrage from the community, actions by advertisers and actions by then chairman of Macquarie Media who publicly stated any recurrence of this type of comment would result in the termination of Mr Jones' contract.

Indeed, Jones faced an immediate backlash for his comments, including more than 125 complaints to ACMA.

Hundreds of advertisers boycotted 2GB in the wake of the broadcast, leading to half of the Alan Jones Breakfast Show's revenue being lost.

Few returned even after Jones wrote a letter of apology to Ardern and admitted on air that he had "made a mistake".

In this game you've got to choose your words carefully and I didn't do that.

Jones announced his retirement from the radio on health grounds earlier this month. The 79 year-old told listeners that he was following the advice of "experts" and would be leaving the airwaves at the end of the month.

Jones was on his final warning from 2GB's then-owners Macquarie Media for his comments about Ardern.

ACMA also found that several statements Jones made about climate change policy were inaccurate, including calling biomass a "fossil fuel". Figures he used to compare the percentage of solar and wind energy used by Australia and New Zealand were not based on like-for-like data, they found.

The factual error and inconsistent information were used to incorrectly portray that Australia generates more of its energy from renewables than New Zealand.

Chair O'Loughlin announced that no further action would be taken over Jones's breach of decency rules, given that he is retiring and action had already been taken by Macquarie Media. ​

"Shock jock" Jones leaves behind a career peppered with controversy.

More than 80 advertisers backed out of his show in 2012 when he said during a speech at a private dinner that then-prime minister Julia Gillard's father "died of shame" because his daughter told lies in parliament. Gillard's father had recently passed away.

Jones has also been involved in more than 10 defamation cases and a "cash for comment" scandal. He also famously said on air that Gillard should be "put into a chaff bag and thrown into the sea".

In spite of this, The Alan Jones Radio Show has been Sydney's top rated breakfast show since 2001.

His retirement marks the end of a 35 year career in radio. Jones will continue to present on Sky News Australia and write for The Daily Telegraph and The Australian.

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