Alan Jones’ feud with PM gets personal
Alan Jones made himself a thorn in Scott Morrison's side last week, launching an extraordinary attack on the Prime Minister live on radio over drought assistance for farmers.
The controversial broadcaster backed it up that night, with an extended criticism of the Coalition on his Sky News show, which ended in Jones breaking down in tears.
Now, political insiders claim the stoush was a little less about the plight of farmers and a little more about Mr Morrison's recent perceived slight on the shock jock.
On ABC program Insiders yesterday, Niki Savva, author and former adviser to John Howard, said there's an element of hurt feelings behind Jones' uncompromising tirade on Tuesday.
"There's a strong view inside the government that Jones is not prepared to cut any slack for Morrison over what he's doing … because Morrison sided with Jacinda Ardern and not with Jones," Savva said.
She added, with the faintest hint of sarcasm: "Not that Jones takes these things personally, as we know …"
In August, Jones launched what was described as a "misogynistic rant" against the New Zealand PM over her remarks about Australia's action on climate change.
"Now I hope Scott Morrison gets tough here with a few backhanders … hasn't got a clue this woman," Jones said on his 2GB breakfast program.
"I just wonder whether Scott Morrison is going to be fully briefed to shove a sock down her throat.'"
He also described Ms Ardern as "a joke", "a clown" and a "swallower" of climate change, prompting controversy and a swift backlash from all sides of the political spectrum.
Amid mounting pressure and a promise from Jones' employer Macquarie Media to review his program, and essentially to sack him next time, Mr Morrison joined the chorus of criticism, describing the conduct as "very disappointing" and "way out of line".
According to Savva, Jones' feelings are still hurt and he's not prepared to make life easy for Mr Morrison.
"He's not been willing to cut him any slack on this, not allowing him to get his messages out properly, as we saw the other day," she told the program.
There certainly wasn't any slack given.
After extensively grilling Mr Morrison and yelling over him several times, Jones devoted significant airtime to calls from furious listeners attacking the PM and the Coalition.
He played a selection of those calls on Sky News that night, before vowing to continue fighting for farmers and then breaking down in a display of raw emotion.
"Morrison now is trying to take a slightly different tact," Savva said. "He announced a new measure to John Laws, for instance."
Just days after the damaging live radio interview, which prompted an avalanche of angry and emotional calls from fed-up farmers, Mr Morrison went on 2SM to drop some exclusive news to Jones' long-time foe.
The PM went on the radio to talk about the drought. Safe to say people didn't like what they heard. pic.twitter.com/i5ZycPmjns— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) October 15, 2019
He announced an extension a household assistance program for drought-stricken farmers and allowed Laws to take a swipe at his old rival.
"Why do you permit yourself to be harangued in the way that Alan Jones harangues you?" he asked the PM. "Why do you put up with that?"
Mr Morrison was diplomatic, telling the broadcaster that he turns up for an interview regardless of if it's likely to be hostile.
The Australian newspaper today echoed Savva's claims of a tense relationship between the PM and Jones related to the saga involving Ms Ardern.
It was pointed out that last week's difficult interview was Mr Morrison's first appearance since he defended his New Zealand counterpart.
"After last week's fiery interview, the PM seemed to be making a point to Jones," the Media Diary column said. "He subsequently appeared virtually everywhere but on the breakfast king's show, despite the fact Jones was asking for a return bout.
"On Thursday, Morrison popped up with Jones's long-term rival John Laws on 2SM, while on Friday, he made it back to 2GB, but this time with Ray Hadley."
Jones and Macquarie Media have been approached for comment.