Right after having to claim he isn’t stupid, Alan Jones, now gracing the festering pit of Sky News commentary, repeated the claim made by Donald Trump – that COVID-19 cases only appear to be bad because more testing reveals more cases. He then goes onto question whether there is a pandemic, if it is even dangerous at all, and concludes by saying we’ve committed economic suicide. But not before he tears Victorian Labor Premier, Daniel Andrews, to shreds over his handling of “not-a-pandemic”.
After Alan Jones left his old radio job, coincidentally after an online campaign to boycott and remove him, he casually wandered over to take up a position at Sky News – probably the only media outlet in the country who would hire him. He fits in quite well there, given how soulless and clueless he is, and it is not surprising to see him joining the Murdoch chorus of downplaying the pandemic whilst criticising (Labor) leaders for their “mistakes”.
Before discussing his smear of Andrews, it’s important to note that the purpose of the smear has nothing to do with his actions and choices over the past few months, but entirely politically motivated. A quick Google search highlights the difference in approach to the major parties, and complete silence over the success of his favourite politician – Jacinda Ardern.
On the 24th of March, Minister Greg Hunt was interviewed by Alan Jones on 2GB. Jones prefaced the interview by asking his listeners to keep in mind that “these people are worn out too”, referring to Hunt, Morrison, and Gladys Berejiklian specifically (the latter he dragged out sympathy for her dealing with the bushfires as well, a disaster her government’s policies helped exacerbate). He then went on to praise the government’s testing efforts, generally keeping a positive spin on everything and even offering generous prompts for Hunt to talk about how great nursing homes are doing.
On May 1st, he interviewed Scott Morrison, in which he “confessed” to have downloaded the COVIDSafe app and congratulating, implicitly, how great it is – despite the fact it has done absolutely nothing but collect data without leading to any tracing successes and has almost $3M in consultant and contractor fees alone. (Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine comes to mind – we face a pandemic and the government throws money at useless apps and stacks the National COVID-19 Commission with gas executives pushing for a “gas-led” economic recovery.)
This is also a direct quote from the interview:
“I agree with you, everyone agrees with you. That’s why you’ve got the highest ratings of any Prime Minister in history, and that’s why everyone agrees with you.”
He fawns all over Coalition politicians, and yet in the same interview he says, “this Dr Annaliese van Diemen” (a Victorian Deputy CHO) is part of the “People’s Republic of Victoria”. Elsewhere he refers to Daniel Andrews as “Dodgy Dan” and his policies as “dictatorial” (social media has taken to calling him “DictatorDan”, and the current situation a “Dan-made disaster”). He hasn’t interviewed these people, who have also been dealing with the same fires and virus concerns, or attempted to sympathise with them. It’s pure attack.
Compare this to an interview with Gladys Berejiklian in March, following the Ruby Princess debacle, where she is given a platform to “assure” people that “the system is foolproof”, after the fact. If Daniel Andrews were to have been interviewed, I doubt he would have been allowed a moment to talk without being interrupted, with or without a sock involved.
As if the comparison isn’t clear enough, it is obvious from the recent rant that Alan Jones does not actually care about the virus. He says we are “living in a society of fear” created by politicians (only Labor ones, however). When discussing the announcement of cases, “new cases”, he questions why other details aren’t provided: how many cases are “mild”, how many people have recovered, what pre-existing conditions were involved, and how old the deceased are (very classy you old fuck). He also quotes the Prime Minister – most assuredly an expert on the virus – as saying that the “bulk of Australian’s are not at risk”. 128 people dead in Australia apparently means there is no pandemic (only if you forget the rest of the globe exists, and that Australia has taken precautions – which his ilk calls “economic suicide” – to help prevent it spreading wider).
So if the pandemic is not a pandemic, and if Coalition politicians are to praised for their efforts and given a chance to fix “mistakes” (won’t bring back the dead from the Ruby Princess), then why does he spend nearly four minutes crashing down on Daniel Andrews’ response to the virus? A double standard, from Alan Jones and the Murdoch press? I never! Berejiklian is fine to interview, but Andrews, no, his Premiership has been “smashed”, and must resign because Jones said so.
His first justification for that is the possibly true assertion that most, if not all, new cases in the State had sprung out from the hotel quarantine program. He lists a bunch of concerns about the contract made with a security company and with the hotel itself, claiming it was solely the fault of the Andrews’ government. But that isn’t entirely true, and ignores an important actor in this scenario – the security company itself.
MSS has carried out contracts with varying levels of government before, including the Federal government. Why not name the company in question and mention this, rather than quickly returning to the State government smearing? Jones does rightly say that the practices carried out here – such as hiring staff, the provision of training and PPE, etc. – were insufficient. But that was the responsibility of the company, as was disclosing any subcontracting, not the domain of the government. The government’s only negative roll here – which I would criticise for reasons Alan Jones would not dare consider – is that they contracted this work out to a private company.
The ABC article linked above quotes Professor Emmanuel Josserand from UTS, who states that it is the casualisation of the workforce and the lack of training that is at fault. This is true of almost any private enterprise involved in what should be public industries or matters, in this case healthcare. It was MSS, not the Andrews’ government, that allowed underpaid and unprepared staff to work in unsafe and – given the results – dangerous and negligent conditions. I await Alan Jones’ rant discouraging contracts with private companies and his vicious campaign to support workers’ rights.
Coming to a long conclusion, Alan Jones cites Tony Abbott in basically saying we are placing human life above the economy, god forbid, and quoting viewers who have written to him about the distress this whole affair has caused them. He calls out the fact that politicians make decisions without “having a clue what it’s like” to be in places affected by border closures, again implying the Victorian State government, because he would never entertain the idea that Berejiklian or the Federal government are in the wrong.
Alan Jones has always been a figure of much controversy, and as mentioned, Sky News is the perfect (and only place left) for him. Despite his attempts to be vague with certain accusations, as if to portray himself as anti-government, not just anti-anything-not-Coalition, his biases are as clear as his content is dangerous. I do not wish the virus on anyone, but there are some who may learn a thing or two if they were to catch it. Jones, I imagine, is one of them.
EDIT 03/08/2020: Originally I had read somewhere Wilson Security was involved with the hotel quarantine scandal, which was incorrect. The two mentions of them have been changed to MSS, the actual company involved.