There’s a bit of a contrast in the reaction to radio shock jock Don Imus’ racist slurs in the US and the ACMA verdict on Alan Jones’ Cronulla broadcasts.
Imus has been pulled from MSNBC, and advertisers have deserted him while pols like Obama have called for his sacking, with only the awful Joe Lieberman vehement in support. [Lots more on Imus from Pam at Pandagon.] Update: Imus has been fired.
What do we get from our political leaders?
Political leaders, by comparison, have so far fallen over themselves to support Jones. John Howard would not comment directly on the remarks that ACMA had found breached the commercial radio broadcasters’ code, but reiterated yesterday: “I don’t believe that he (Jones) is an agent of prejudice and discrimination in the community, that some have implied,” he told journalists in Canberra in a clear slight of ACMA’s report. Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd was less effusive. His comments, while not defending Jones, acknowledged his importance.
“There are individual observations by Mr Jones which I may radically and violently disagree with. That also goes to other broadcasting outlets as well. But in a free country we have a free media,” Rudd said yesterday.
“My job as someone trying to project their views to the rest of the Australian people is to use the nation’s media as it is presented to me.”
Helen Coonan followed the PM by describing Jones as an outstanding broadcaster who had made an “indelible” mark on the industry.
She also refused to support ACMA or its chairman, Chris Chapman, after an attack by Jones and Singleton.
Frankly that’s pathetic. And Rudd’s comments are disgraceful. We’re not stuck with the media we have rather than the media we want unless pollies lean over backwards to condone repulsive behaviour, and ignore it when it’s called as such according to the law of the land. And how meaningful is that law?
It is more likely that the network will be relying on ACMA to look for a mutually acceptable compromise, especially when Coonan, Howard and even Rudd made it clear they don’t regard the breaches as a hanging offence.
That could take the form of a suitably bland, meaningless apology or a fine that would not trouble the network or Jones’ considerable cash flow. The only collateral damage would be to Jones’ considerable ego, but then that has shown a remarkable capacity to recover.