Sunday, September 30, 2012

Of chaff bags and chum buckets

Another weekend, another nuclear-level fallout from a comment by a radio shock jock, namely Alan Jones.

In this case, it was at a private function at the invitation of the Young Liberals at Sydney University, and in a rambunctious fashion, he spouted that Julia Gillard's father died of shame because her daughter is a liar.

He then went on to state in similar rambunctious fashion that everyone in the Labor Party is a liar, and so on and so forth.

He also won the bid on a jacket made of chaff bags donated by a Woolworths executive; obviously a throwback to Jones' on air comment that Gillard and former Greens leader Bob Brown should be thrown out to sea in a chaff bag.

The comments inside the meeting were captured by News Ltd. journalist Jonathan Marshall, who simply paid the $100 per head fee to get into the event, and recorded proceedings, unbeknownst to Alan Jones and all who attended.

It's relieving to see that journalists do indeed still carry out some journalism.

Of course, Alan Jones is now seemingly remorseful and seemingly apologetic that it has come to light - however Ms Gillard has, rightly, refused his apology and refused to take his phone calls.

Once again, it's created a shit storm in the media. The fetish-like media coverage of Jill Meagher (the raped and murdered ABC employee from Melbourne) has cooled, and so has the media outrage about the Sydney Muslim riots.

Being a Monday, a new media cycle monster has begun - analysis of the Jones comments, which all in all, will probably temporarily boost his ratings, and no doubt his comments have appealed to a misogynistic element in his audience.

Of course, none of which was probably his intention.

Another unintended consequence will probably be a boost in the polls for Gillard.

The chum and mud that Gillard has weathered is indeed astounding, and I cannot recall any Australian public figure that has worn so much vitriol on the chin and carries on.

The Thomson affair of course is one other example.

It once again goes to the core of what Australian politics has degenerated into. Policy wise, one could argue the government is doing very well, and it does deserve credit where credit is due.

The public discussion however is wildly swung away from policy debates - besides boat people and gay marriage, the Australian public is given no niggle of an insight into any other policy area - they're our bread and butter issues that we can discuss, and nothing else.

It perhaps all seems beyond the grasp of the public, or perhaps bores them and doesn't garner good ratings - hence why we have a lot of biff thrown around, like a red cape dangled in front of a bull.

The rest of the slack is taken up by fierce character assassination attempts on public political figures, such as the Prime Minister herself, or expressions of rage in the media against ethnic groups, such as Muslims.

And it all runs like clockwork. Periodically, something such as the Jones incident comes along and everyone expresses outrage, such as on social media, and someone somewhere starts up a petition to get someone sacked.

It makes everyone feel all warm and gooey inside.

Alan Jones is one of those agitators that everyone loves to hate. I've listened to previous interviews his conducted with former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, and he conducted those in a very courteous manner.

Of course, I don't agree with these latest comments, but I don't quite share the same level of outrage.

I guess you could say, I have outrage fatigue after angry Muslims, gay marriage not passing, Jill Meagher's alleged rapist and murderer, and now another Jones affair.

What will it be next week I wonder?

The TAB should add it to their list of things to bet on - what next will outrage the Australian public?

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