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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

David Flint sings his song « Previous | |Next »
July 6, 2006

David Flint, the former chairman of the Press Council and the Australian Broadcasting Authority, says the following in an op. ed. in todays Australian:

I admire Alan Jones. My admiration is based on the fact that Jones is a principled and superbly effective communicator and a successful radio identity. He takes on an extraordinary workload. He is compassionate and charitable to those in need. And he eloquently speaks for the silent majority on issues from his opposition to the politicians' republic and an apology to Aboriginal Australians to his strong support for border protection and the war on Islamic terrorism. To be sure, I don't agree with everything he says. His support for protectionism and agrarian socialism, for instance, are just a little left wing for my taste.

It's a nice compliment isn't it.

Bill Leak

What a mo, isn't this the same Alan Jones who was up to his neck in the 'cash for comment' scandal. That was where Jones pocketed big bucks from corporations seeking positive comment. They made secret payments in return for positive coverage, or an end to negative coverage.

I presume Jones' success in this is what makes him such 'a principled and superbly effective communicator.' Flint was in charge of the regulator (ABA) ensuring that this kind of media corruption did not happen. Flint's ABA held a public inquiry and it concluded that 2UE, where Jones (and John Laws) worked together at the time, had breached the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice 95 times. But Jones stayed. Does that mean commentary on commercial radio sings the tune of whoever is paying?

Flint really doesn't like the ABC. Referring to the Chris Master's Jonestown manuscript, which was to be published by ABC Books before the plug ws pulled, Flint say that:

...the ABC had decided to target its commercial rival in a way it has targeted no one else. The indications clearly are that a purpose from the outset - indeed, the primary purpose of this enterprise - was not so much the public interest but to do damage, if not mortal damage, to Jones.... the result for the ABC is an unmitigated disaster. Its jealousy and hatred made it blind to what it was doing. ...This blunder will only add more substance to the justified charge that the ABC needs not simply reform, but that it may have reached the point where it is beyond reform.

The cause of the rot? The left-wing collectivist culture of the national broadcaster. This undermines national cohesion by pushing a soft Marxist narrative that sees Australia as a racist and sexist country founded on a crime. So thunders The Australian

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:49 PM | | Comments (7)


The only revelation (if you can call it that) apt to come out of Chris Masters' book that is likely to be thought defamatory by Watts, Windschuttle, Albrechtsen & Brunton is that the Parrot is a poof... but that's certainly not news... especially not to the coincidentally dainty David Flint.


I understand that Master's will paint a picture of a highly ambitious man who is interested in gaining favour with those who can help him gain influence.

Hopefully Masters will do this in the context of make some comments about what has happened to the media in Australia and attempts at media reform.

Jones like Laws is someone who wields largely unaccountable power through his wide-ranging networks and media influence.

The decision by the ABC has has been a public relations disaster. It has invited an increased public perception that a Coalition-stacked board will do a certain bidding. The threat of legal action is a convenient excuse to cloak corporate surrender to personal or political pressures.

The decision ... has invited an increased public perception that a Coalition-stacked board will do a certain bidding. The threat of legal action is a convenient excuse to cloak corporate surrender to personal or political pressures.

Spot on.

Whether or not the Howard Gang-of-Three-and-a-bit in fact had any input to the trashing of Jonestown, there'd be almost no way anyone in Australia would possibly believe otherwise. 'PR disaster' is a genuinely mild characterisation.

Board interference with the ops at ABC hasn't quite gotten to the worst it can be just yet. When we start seeing ABC newsies blowing the whistle for being told to report the Liberal Party line in Murdochian fashion, which I expect rather sooner than later, then we can rightfully assert that the independence clause in the ABC Charter has been well and truly broken.

Do you think Jonesy's sphere of influence will shrink when Jonestown hits the shelves? There's no doubt that it will be published- and when it is, I really hope Chris Masters likes his new yacht.

Jones is billed as the most influential voice on the most influential medium of them all. It is heald that he has built a career on telling us what to think and there are those among the political string-pulling elite who believe his influence is so great it can - and does - deliver elections.How much is myth? How much is reality?

Clive Hamilton, director of the Australia Institute, has published a research paper research paper (go to 'whats new') which postulates that Jones's influence from his radio pulpit is more myth than fact. Hamilton acknowledges that Jones carries around him the perception of power and influence, derived from his activities on-air and off:

The key is his willingness to use his powerful contacts and to fire up his loyal listeners...The forceful and often partisan editorialising by Jones is considered his most effective tool of influence and (some ALP) figures believe his persistent pursuit of Labor is changing the political culture of Sydney.

Hamilton argues perception is not reality.
"There is a widespread belief among Australia's political elites that Alan Jones can decide elections. These are bold claims to make about a radio announcer who preaches to about the same number of people as a low-rating television program. On any given day Jones broadcasts to about 182,000 people, the vast majority of whom have well-established and inflexible political allegiances. (This) suggests that perceptions of Jones's influence and political sway are out of proportion to the size and nature of his audience. His influence seems to be based more on networking and fear of on-air criticism than a real ability to shift votes."

Others say that Jones his cumulative audience figure of 441,000 is a better guide than the average quarter-hour listening figure of 182,000 used by Hamilton.

Hamilton says that Jones's listeners are heavily skewed as older than the Australian average; 77 per cent believe the nation's fundamental values are under threat; they are more conservative in their religious and moral outlooks, more worried about crime and their own safety, and less willing to embrace Aboriginal culture as an essential component of Australian society. They believe imposing the law is more important than standing up for freedom, terror suspects should have no rights, and the Government is doing a good job running the country. They are twice as likely as other Australians to vote Liberal. In other words, their beliefs mirror Jones's expressed editorial positions.

Hamilton says that listeners tune in to Jones to hear what they want to hear:

They listen for their own comfort. They don't listen to be informed or to make better judgments. They tune in to have their own prejudices reconfirmed. This is not influence; you are only influential when you change opinions.

That is the platform on which Jones sets out to explicitly exercise political debate.

They believe imposing the law is more important than standing up for freedom, terror suspects should have no rights, and the Government is doing a good job running the country.

Otherwise known as statist authoritarianism.

there you have the roots of an Australian conservatism, one that is quite hostile to liberalism.

Most commentators don't really recognize it for what it is, or understand its critique of liberalism. Of course most conservative commentators---Bolt and co---do what Jones does--reinforces the prejudices.

Yes, they certainly play for their audience.

But how big is that audience in reality? Are the people that listen to Jones the ones that have influence on others?

You would tend to think not, but the pollies seem to think it is extremely important to their success.

How big is their market in the big city hinterlands - where elections are won and lost now. That is the key question, and I think this is where Jones, Bolt and co have their strength. Remember, most people's politics are based on their parent's ideology. If this group is older, they are communicating these ideas to their children. Most of them will take it on in blind faith, until such time as the world slaps them around enough to start thinking for themselves. Workchoices is a big slap, that really cuts through to this group.