Merchants of hate: the right wing populism of Alan Jones versus “decent Australia”

I’ve not commented on the so called Jones Affair yet, but I’ve been watching developments out of curiosity. For those unfamiliar with the issue, Jones is a Sydney based right-wing radio shock-jock whose now notorious comments about the Prime Minister’s father have generated intense controversy.

And while the Jones affair has sparked enormous debate it is merely symptomatic a broader issue: for too long our media has been infected, shaped and effectively ruled by the merchants of hate.

The merchants of hate: who are they?

What the merchants of hate have wrought (Source: News)

Every day in both print and radio we are constantly assaulted by men – and they’re mostly older, white conservative males (with some few token exceptions) – espousing a toxic brew of climate scepticism, disdain for the environment, free market fundamentalism and a loathing for women, refugees and anyone who does not fit into a narrowly defined category of what is acceptable to their world view.

One only have to look at the writings of Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt, the daily content of The Australian, Daily Telegraph and the messaging from the Liberal-National Party as evidence for the above.

It is the diffusion of right-wing popularism from the United States into Australian political culture, and the blending of conspiracy culture and hate. But what was once restricted to the fringes of society has been made popular via the Internet and – let us be frank – Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

Noted economist John Quiggin also recently made this point on his blog:

For practical purposes, any comment, wherever it is made, is addressed to the world as a whole. More significantly, political debate has been globalised. In particular, the “cranks and crazies” who dominate the US Republican Party, along with the right-wing of the Tory party in the UK, inform the thinking of much of the Australian right-wing commentariat.

This is line with some of my thoughts: right-wing popularism (as I’m attempting to describe it in relation to climate change scepticism) has burst into the mainstream. In turn, it has had a toxic and destructive effect on the political process and public debate.

I believe a strong case can be made that climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts have been compromised by the intensity of the more extremist elements of the conservative movement opposing both the science and any attempts to address the challenge.

Which brings us back to Alan Jones.

Alan Jones: merchant of hate and unreality

For years Jones has suffered very little in the way of repercussions for the vitriol he directs against his perceived enemies. But now it seems Jones has gone to far.

His comments that Prime Ministers Julia Gillard’s father, recently deceased, died of shame has prompted a feeling of disgust across the country.

To date over 110,000 people have signed a petition to get Jones off the air. Major sponsors have dropped their association with his breakfast show (if you’re interested in signing see here).

Jones behaviour has prompted – to quote Sydney Morning Herald journalist Peter Fitzsimmons – “decent Australia” to stand up and call him on his behaviour:

What has in fact happened in the last week has been the rise of decent Australia  saying enough is enough. And yes, sponsors like Gerry Harvey have publicly  worried that by withdrawing from the Jones program they are taking part in a  lynch mob, but they misunderstand. What you are actually doing, Mr Harvey, is  refusing to sponsor any further “lynch-mob radio”.

The public outrage in relation to the Jones affair as given me a sense of optimism: perhaps we have reached a tipping point, when ordinary citizens have said “enough!”

Nor is it just Jones comments about the passing away of the Prime Minister’s father people are reflecting upon.

It is Alan Jones and his world view that is now under the microscope, as Jones subscribes to the usual cluster of right-wing popularist nonsense:

As one of the most prominent climate sceptics in the Australian media he frequently distorts the public’s understanding of the science. It is worth noting that earlier this year the Australian media watch dog found he’d made “unsubstantiated comments” about the science.

But merely being wrong about the science was not enough to stop Jones.

He had to prompt the disgust of the nation.

And even then, like any school-yard bully pulled up for their behaviour he is claiming the mantle of victim.

Countering the merchants of hate

Perhaps in the public’s justifiable outrage we are seeing the stirring of a new counter-movement against the merchants of hate – one that calls for a return to civility and reasoned debate.

It is vital that we do so with urgency.

Those of us attuned to reality appreciate we are confronted by a broad range of challenges: environmental collapse, resource depletion, an ageing population and less certain economic times to mention but a few.

It is not the end of the world, but some nasty shocks are on the horizon if we don’t start seriously planning a response.

And yet we cannot meet these challenges creatively or with a sense of common purpose when the merchants of hate preach division and call out scientists and environmentalists – indeed anyone perceived to be in opposition to their paranoid world view – as the enemy within.

The likes of Alan Jones are not dissenting voices; he is not the representative or champion of unpopular causes as he and his defenders are so very quick to claim.

The language of hate peddled by Jones, Bolt and News Corporation is merely a tool to silence critics of the status quo. Told that we cannot consume blindly or pollute the world’s atmosphere without consequences, and their response is blind fury and denial.

And yet in opposition to their fury what is an appropriate response?

Censorship in a free society is untenable, and destructive; it is not an option in a genuinely democratic country like Australia. Nor do I advocate it.

What then?

Limits to hate: victory over the merchants of unreality?

We can reclaim the media and public debate by standing up to the likes of Jones; we can bring back accountability.

Which is what 110,000 Australians did in signing that petition to get Jones off the air. It is a genuine grass-roots initiative taken up by tens of thousands. Which is why sponsors are fleeing from Jones in horror at being associated with his tainted brand.

Decency, humility and respect for the rights of others never went away or into decline: the values of our society are not in free fall.

But you would not know that tuning into Alan Jones or picking up The Herald Sun.

By capturing the media and using it as a platform for their distorted reality, the shrill and panicked voices of right-wing popularism attempted to drown out any sense of common purpose in a tirade of hate filled invective.

They wanted to divide the world into us and them and for the public to follow their conspiratorial lead. They treated climate science as a subversive heresy and have been attempting to stamp it out.

Indeed there can be little doubt in coming decades Jones and the climate sceptics will be mocked for their beliefs; that climate scientists perpetrated a gigantic hoax for funding; that environmentalists wanted to de-industrialize the West; or that the Rothschild family is behind it all.

We have listened to Jones and his fellow travellers for years; we have tolerated their hate filled world view far longer than was necessary. They have had their opportunity to put their case forward, in a manner befitting their temperament.

But there are not merely limits to growth; there are limits to the level of hate a pluralistic society will tolerate.

Perhaps those limits are now finally being reached.

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28 thoughts on “Merchants of hate: the right wing populism of Alan Jones versus “decent Australia”

  1. john byatt says:

    It only took two pages to invoke Godwins law

    The sad extreme right

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Haha, love it. The reference to the McCarthy years. So is Alan Jones a socialist?

      • rubber tatster says:

        Gawd, talk about inverted logic.

        Jones = institutionalised right wing bully, irrational, power over politicians, egomaniac

        McCarthy = institutionalised right wing bully, irrational, power over politicians, egomaniac.

  2. rubber tatster says:

    Bad for your sanity to spend time at that site, john.

    The irony of Jone’s squealing about bullying is too exquisite for words. The icing on the cake is that the hate-filled followers of Jones (Juliar, Ditch the Witch, etc) cannot stand it when their hate, misogyny and homophobia are challenged. Always the same when you stand up to bullies; they sook and the blame everyone else for their problems.

    Best to get Alan an EH Holden to replace the Merc – because he is whining like an EH diff.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      John must share the masochistic streak I do in willingly reading that stuff. For me the most offensive thing about Just Grounds is the design and colour scheme. Yeeech…

      • john byatt says:

        They fascinate me, Just what sort of upbringing produces these minds.

        fundamental christianity seems to be the answer

  3. john byatt says:

    support allan jones petition has 25 signatures

    one of those is the author of the god will save us, beware of the evil scientists letter that I posted and sister of dr wes allen , weather makers reexamined

    Elizebeth Flower commented on the petition | about 2 hours ago
    Support Alan Jones: Stop harrassing Alan Jones
    An attempt to silence Alan Jones is an attack on freedom of speech. Many journalists and others have made vile (almost unrepeatable) statements – about conservative politicians – which haven’t raised a murmur of protest. The bias against Alan Jones’s not-for-publication ‘slip of the tongue’ smacks very glaringly of an agenda to silence through vilification.

  4. john byatt says:

    Why I love em

    one of them sent email to Merc. in part
    ” It is reprehensible that a senior executive used Mercedes-Benz’ good name and reputation to mount McCarthyism type attack to persecute his political adversary”

    a few comments previous they were calling Merc a mob of NAZI lovers.

    yes it fascinates me,

  5. john byatt says:

    10 morons commenting on the JG post,

    fucking read this, sent to merc

    I have a new MB 2328 Atego and am very distressed at the pathetic spineless knee jerk reaction to 2GB.
    Telling lies as well as being gutless has totally put me off your brand. While we are having whitch hunts and lynchings – nothing short of David McCarthy’s dismissal will restore any interest in your brand

    btw I have a website with3200 members and it is running hot

    Joy radio -spare me the details see here-

    Would like acknowlegement of this corresspondence and also a reply that I can publish.
    Rob Moore

    can’t get much hotter than that

  6. Nick says:

    Alan Jones had his free Merc taken away…a shocking example of mob bullying. What will his driver think? He’ll probably get an Audi in a few weeks….

    Actually,I think everyone is surprised and a little shocked at the potency of the backlash against Jones…but it’s very invigorating,and opens more possibilities. Jones reckons he can cop it,but claims folks have no right to bully his humble advertisers to get at him. This is a decree,nothing more or less,as he has offered no argument for his view. Why shouldn’t his tenure be under threat? He’s cash for comment…so you have to dry up his cash to get through to him.

  7. john byatt says:

    a picture worth a thousand words

  8. Eric Worrall says:

    This balmy conflation of ideas makes as much sense as me suggesting that, because Osama Bin Laden supported climate alarmism, you guys are all would be terrorists.

    Many right wing sceptics, like me, see climate alarmism as a trojan horse for the far left.

    But some prominent sceptics are not right wing.

    Steve McIntyre, the Canadian Statistician, who probably gets more mentions in the Climategate Archive than any other “denier”, is a socialist.

    • Nick says:

      Climate is a slippery steed onto which many an ideologue would try to throw a saddle. To continue horsey analogies. There’s room inside the trojan horse for creatures of every wing arrangement.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        I agree.

        We have an example of that, in that from John’s quote, the Green Party (and you guys) are opposed to biofuel derived from any source other than genuine organic waste. And frankly I wouldn’t have an object to biofuel from waste either – I’ve used it myself, when I have loaded my fire with waste wood.

        But somehow rainforests continue to be cleared for non waste biofuel plantations.

  9. john byatt says:

    Marshall Institute

    Roy Spencer

    enough said


    • john byatt says:


      McIntyre and McKitrick have published two papers that were re-published and distributed by the George C. Marshall Institute, a right-wing think tank that has received $715,000 from Exxon Mobil since 1998. [11]

  10. john byatt says:

    Trust me willard, Jatropha is not the source of palm oil

    • john byatt says:

      Gore has invested in Jatropha not palm oil, so by misrepresenting Jatropha as palm oil Willard then goes on the attack that Gore is destroying the rainforest,

      Jatropha is grown on wasteland not in rainforest clearings

    • Nick says:

      Yes,Wattsy has no botanical knowledge whatsoever. That figures. Has he amended the title? He should have been able to quite quickly as at least half a dozen readers politely pointed out his error.

      Al Gore Derangement Syndrome’s most chronic sufferer. He’s on life support in his own bubble.

      • john byatt says:

        no, he has done the usual of burying the post by adding a few more above it

        here is the problem

        and truth has not yet put on his pants


      • john byatt says:

        So the next time that Eric makes a claim and cites Watts, he may understand why we regard watts as a very unreliable source for anything.

        No it was not a mistake by watts, he is immune to fact.


  11. […] Merchants of hate: the right wing popularism of Alan Jones versus “decent Australia” ( […]

  12. Moth says:

    I’ve tweeted that I think Bolt should be keeping a close eye on the Jones affair; I too suspect people are starting to say enough is enough.

    I also like how Turnbull has picked up on it and given Jones the kick up the arse he so requires – one just needs to listen to how he treats most scientists that he interviews to know he has no grounds to plead the victim. It’s all very funny.

    That said, I can’t sign the petition. It seems too close to censorship… What media requires is accountability for assumptions made. It shouldn’t be enough for a near senile crackpot like Jones to bark whatever nonsense he so chooses – back it up with facts or do the graveyard shift. His unsubstantiated banter doesn’t deserve such a prime audience.

  13. […] Merchants of hate: the right wing popularism of Alan Jones versus “decent Australia” ( […]

  14. john byatt says:

    Agree with this one

    Hey Paul, nice article. The most salient point for me in this is that consumers have the absolute right to withdraw their consumption. Companies constantly expect customers to be influenced by (i.e. fall for) endorsements from “celebrities” and such like. Well, that works both ways. Consumers have the right to say they will not accept product endorsement from reprobates. And they’re entitled to make that view known to the companies (politely of course). And so what if some people go so far as to want Jones sacked? Jones wants every member of the Labor Government to be sacked. Indeed, there’s no end to the number of people Jones would like to see lose their jobs. Is he immune to this desire by others because he’s in the media?

  15. john byatt says:

    Save alan jones petition now has 35 supporters

    some of them seem a bit sus,


    Reasons for Signing
    Most Popular

    Geoff Hutcho Australia 2 days ago Liked1
    Everyone makes mistakes, and he has apologized numerous times. It is being used as a “get Abbot” campaign.

    Corey Ander Australia 6 days ago Liked1
    Because Alan has always supported me as I’m bending over for him. Just luv him soooo much !

    Alan Jones Australia 6 days ago Liked1
    ooh, I love having myself sucked by a stranger in the next cubicle!
    U R Kidding Australia 6 days ago Liked1

    Hmmmm. Over 100,000 in favour of sacking Alan Jones and only three in favour. And I voted only so I could make my point here as well! Sack the viscious old fool now!
    Alan Jones Australia 7 days ago Liked1
    because money is all that is left

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