The Politics Of Co-dependency

Tim Dunlop has a good post up about Brian Toohey’s piece in yesterday’s Sun-Herald. Toohey argues that much of the commentariat hand-wringing about malign shock-jock influence could be sensibly addressed by politicians simply not giving them the issue-based oxygen they require.

He paints a picture of a disgruntled Bob Carr padding round in his jammies on a wintry morning waiting for ‘the call’ from Jones’ producer. Jones speaks to around 11% of Sydney’s radio audience every morning. They are largely elderly, conservative and are about as attracted to the notion of “swinging votes” as they are to the notion of “swinging sex.” This mob would vote for an old right hand boot if Jones instructed them so to do and – given the uncertain eyesight of many of them – probably have. But to look at it in another way, Jones misses out on 89% of the Sydney radio audience every day.

Why then do he and Laws (who was recently given a run for his not inconsiderable money, in his Sydney timeslot, by ABC Radio’s Sally Loane) continue to wield such apparent influence? Answer: politicians and opinion-makers give it to them because ‘that’s the way the system works.” It kind of suits everyone in a way not unrelated to the practices of the Marquis de Sade and indelibly linked to “old media.” Bob! Switch your phone off and Get a Blog!

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Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

“It kind of suits everyone”

How could it possibly suit Bob Carr to have Alan Jones dictate to him who the police commissioner is going to be? How can it have suited Carl Scully when he was transport minister to go on Jones’ program and be humiliated and terrorised over some overhead pedestrian bridge that needed fixing and he wasn’t aware of?

This makes no sense. Jones has had ’em bluffed for years. Enough is e-bloody-nough.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Not so dead simple Geoff. Indeed, if I wanted to be a smartarse, I’d say that your missive is an example of the ‘just-do-it’ kind of demagoguery that the Parrot himself specialises in. As I quickly noted over at Tim’s place, I’ve seen the dynamic up close on many occasions, and far from suiting them, the pollies hate it with a passion. To start to get to the nub, you need to unpack the Parrot’s (actually quite formidable) tactical approach to power, and then place radio in its political context (as it happens, radio is the main source of news and comment on state affairs … and a large proportion, possible the vast majority, of the other listeners you note, have no interest in politics), and then you need to position the Parrot within all that. If there was an Alan Jones-style just-do-it easy-way of getting away from the dreaded sqwarker, believe me, the pollies would have done it years ago.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“How could it possibly suit Bob Carr to have Alan Jones dictate to him who the police commissioner is going to be?”

Check page 323 of de Sade’s “Justine.” But seriously, it ‘suits’ in the sense that “this is how it works’ and the players can all therefore conform to the universally understood script. What doesn’t appear to have occured to Carr and his colleagues is the fact that they can change it. Jones can’t change his without looking like a has-been.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Chris, you seem to be saying that this is just the way that it is. I’m sure you’re right but I frankly don’t accept that it needs to continue in perpetuity. The cycle can be broken.

Craig G
Craig G
2022 years ago

Alan Jones’s influence in Sydney reminds me of that of a certain high-profile legal type in the same town ie he knows where the proverbial bodies are buried. Probably.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

No Geoff, I haven’t given up, but I don’t think there are simple answers. There must be a way to pick the lock, and I must’ve spent many wistful hours over the years trying to figure it, but it’s a damnable problem. The ‘just ignore him’ or ‘come out all guns blazing’ just don’t hold. Perhaps we’ll get some inspiration from Masters’ forthcoming bio.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“Alan Jones’s influence in Sydney reminds me of that of a certain high-profile legal type in the same town ie he knows where the proverbial bodies are buried. Probably.”

So does the Premier, Craig

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

A pint that’s all too often overlooked, is that it’s not simply a matter of the number of listeners. More important is the number of listeners whose position can be changed by the commentator’s “charm”.
That you or I see Jones as a dsepicable toad or worse, is irrelevant. A significant proportion of his listeners [who represent an even more significant proportion of the small but vital category of readily “swingable” voters] are loyal to his idiosyncratic, ever changing positions.
They agreed with Jones when he said “Banks bad”, then agreed just as enthusiastically a week later when he told them, “Banks good.” Paleface Jones may have spoken with forked tongue, but few of them noticed, even after he was exposed. Add to the mix a station in which his practices run unchallenged, and you’ll understand why his influence is so feared.

Robert
2022 years ago

a station in which his practices run unchallenged

It’s much worse than that, Norman — the station (of which he is a part owner) encourages his practices, because Telstra pays the station and they all get a cut of the profits. And that’s got to be stamped out.

Over Flint’s dead body if possible.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Knock me down with an AWA radiogram and lash me with a crystal set, I actually agree with Norman (and Robert).

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

Don’t be so shocked, CS.

Some people can be wrong most of the time; all people can be wrong some of the time; but not even CS can be wrong all of the time.

mark
2022 years ago

A pint that’s all too often overlooked…

Cheers!

trackback
2022 years ago

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2022 years ago

Man of the moment

From the Back Pages archives comes my favourite Rummy cartoon, by the marvellous and under-recognised Jeff Pryor (published in the Canberra Times sometime last year). Meanwhile, I’m caught up in an unusually intense round of social obligations this we…

trackback
2022 years ago

Man of the moment

From the Back Pages archives comes my favourite Rummy cartoon, by the marvellous and under-recognised Jeff Pryor (published in the Canberra Times sometime last year). Meanwhile, I’m caught up in an unusually intense round of social obligations this we…