Alan Jones is retiring from radio.
Alan Jones is retiring from radio.

‘Died of shame’: Star’s biggest scandals

Alan Jones will go down in the history books as one of Australia's most successful broadcasters, but his career will forever be tarnished by a series of controversies.

The 2GB host announced on air today that he would be retiring from radio at the end of the month due to health reasons, saying: "I guess after 35 years the full stop has to go in somewhere".

The polarising host has sparked outrage on many occasions over the years, and has been found guilty of defamation and of breaching the Australian Communications and Media Authority broadcasting codes.

Here are his biggest controversies.

CRONULLA RIOTS

Just days before the Cronulla riots in 2005, Jones broadcast material on his radio show which was later found likely to encourage violence and vilify people of Middle Eastern descent.

The controversial broadcaster read out a message from a listener which said: "This Sunday every Aussie in the shire get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and Wog bashing day. Bring your mates. Let's show them that this is our beach and they're never welcome."

After reading the message, Jones added: "Well, now that's not the way. I do understand what you're saying … but we've just got to back off a bit here."

When a listener called into Jones' radio show and told the host that she had heard derogatory remarks aimed at Middle Eastern people in Cronulla, Jones replied: "Let's not get too carried away … We don't have Anglo-Saxon kids out there raping women in western Sydney."

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found Jones' 2GB show twice breached Australia's broadcasting code in the lead-up to the riot.

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Thousands of Aussie youths took to the streets of Cronulla looking for males of Middle Eastern appearance during the riot.
Thousands of Aussie youths took to the streets of Cronulla looking for males of Middle Eastern appearance during the riot.

'DIED OF SHAME'

Jones sparked outrage with his vile comments regarding former prime minister Julia Gillard.

In 2011 Jones said on his radio show that Ms Gillard should be "put in a chaff bag" and dumped at sea.

He offered a half-hearted apology later in the year after an address to the National Press Club, saying, "Sometimes in the heat of what you're doing - you're going at a 100 miles per hour - these things are said.

"We don't always say things that are right, we don't always say things that are fair, (but) we should try to."

Jones' most shocking insult to the ex-prime minister came a year later in 2012, not long after the sudden death of Ms Gillard's father.

Jones joked at a private Sydney University Liberal club dinner: "Every person in the caucus of the Labor Party knows that Julia Gillard is a liar, everybody. I will come to that in a moment. The old man recently died a few weeks ago of shame. To think that he has a daughter who told lies every time she stood for parliament."

He also suggested that Ms Gillard had benefited in the polls as a result of her emotional speech in parliament in which she paid tribute to her father, John.

"Of course she's ahead in preferred prime minister (polls)," he said. "She cries because her father died, she's on the news every day."

Julia Gillard.
Julia Gillard.

Jones' speech was secretly recorded by a journalist who later made the comments public and a wave of outrage followed.

The 2GB host was condemned by both sides of parliament with the then opposition leader, Tony Abbott, saying, "Alan's remarks regarding the PM were completely out of line".

Bob Carr, who was the Foreign Minister in 2012, said: "I've heard indecent things in politics but never something as thoroughly indecent as this".

A petition calling for Jones to be sacked received more than 35,000 signatures and Macquarie Radio incurred losses of $1.5 million in ad revenue as sponsors distanced themselves from Jones.

The broadcaster apologised in a lengthy press conference the day after the "died of shame" comment was made public, saying, "The comments were, in the light of everything, unacceptable. They merit an apology by me."

He added: "I spoke without notes for 58 minutes (at the Young Liberals dinner), I have no idea the material that I covered.

"I just say it as I see it. It was a raucous night and everyone was into it. But that's not an explanation, not an excuse."

Julia Gillard with her mother Moira and father John.
Julia Gillard with her mother Moira and father John.

NZ PM JACINDA ARDERN

Last year Jones let rip with an extraordinary spray aimed at New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern after she criticised Australia's climate change policies.

"She's a clown, Jacinda Ardern; a complete clown,'' Jones said. "I just wonder whether Scott Morrison is going to be fully briefed to shove a sock down her throat.''

Jones went on to describe Ms Ardern as "a swallower" of the climate change "hoax".

"This lightweight New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern is challenging Scott Morrison over climate change," Jones said on air. "Now I hope Scott Morrison gets tough here with a few backhanders … hasn't got a clue this woman."

The comments received widespread condemnation with former prime minster Malcolm Turnbull describing them as "appalling" and a "misogynistic rant".

More than 100 brands pulled their advertising from Jones' show in the wake of the scandal.

Jones later apologised to Ms Ardern in a letter, writing: "I would like to assure you that I did not intend to suggest any violence towards you. While I may disagree with your stance on climate change, I would never wish any harm to you."

He added: "Please accept my sincere apology for the words spoken."

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Picture: Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald, Pool via AP
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Picture: Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald, Pool via AP

 

A mural depicting radio host Alan Jones is seen in the Sydney suburb of Chippendale. Picture: AAP Image/Paul Braven
A mural depicting radio host Alan Jones is seen in the Sydney suburb of Chippendale. Picture: AAP Image/Paul Braven

COURT CASES

Jones has also been found guilty of defamation on several occasions over the years.

One of those instances was when he had to pay rugby league referee Bill Harrigan $90,000 after implying he was biased.

"I believed Bill was biased at that time towards ex-Super League sides and when I saw the figures that was confirmed in my view and I said it," Jones said in court.

Harrigan said Jones' accusation: "I was upset by it because as a referee I pride myself on my integrity and my honesty and to have that said about me, that cut deep."

 

 

Originally published as 'Died of shame': Star's biggest scandals

Police trying to protect someone caught up in the riot.
Police trying to protect someone caught up in the riot.


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