Rightwing media war over Covid lockdown escalates as Ray Hadley calls out ‘ridiculous’ Alan Jones

As Sky After Dark presenters accuse authorities of not telling the truth, the 2GB host and News Corp mastheads urge people to get vaccinated

Ray Hadley has blasted former 2GB colleague Alan Jones for the Sky News presenter’s “ridiculous stance” against the Sydney lockdown in an escalating war among rightwing media over the response to the pandemic.

After Hadley called Sky News star Andrew Bolt a “lapdog” to Jones for being critical of health authorities, the Herald Sun columnist hit back, calling him a “weak and ignorant man who panders to an ugly pack”.

While Jones and his Sky After Dark cohort accuse New South Wales authorities of not telling the truth about Covid at the daily press conferences, Hadley and News Corp mastheads plead with the public to listen to health experts and get vaccinated.

One thing you won’t get in all of the COVID-19 press conferences “is truth,” according to Sky News host Alan Jones.https://t.co/Nl4gFfomie

— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) July 12, 2021

“According to [Jones], they’ve made mistake after mistake after mistake,” Hadley said on his top-rating morning program on 2GB on Tuesday. “If you look at the figures worldwide, as opposed to our figures, even in the middle of this pandemic problem we have in Sydney at the moment, we’re on top of the world in terms of controlling the virus.”

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The Courier Mail’s Our call to arms front page
The Courier Mail’s Our call to arms front page. Photograph: News Corp

Hadley said Jones had over time misled his listeners regarding the severity of Covid and the need for lockdowns. “I think that’s been a ridiculous stance to take,” he said.

Hadley’s spray against Jones, Bolt and Sky News came after News Corp outlets claimed his bosses had abandoned conservative views and “swung to the left” in order to avoid the advertising boycott that dogged Jones in his final years at 2GB.

Hadley said while Sky’s stablemates, including the Courier Mail and the Herald Sun, were encouraging people to get vaccinated with a national front page campaign, Sky News was undermining their efforts and doing the public a “disservice”.

Alan Jones has slammed NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian's "gutless" performance in extending the Greater Sydney lockdown as Sky News live blogs the biggest moments from tonight's stellar opinion lineup.https://t.co/gp74LrH8bj

— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) July 7, 2021
The Herald Sun’s A call to arms front page
The Herald Sun’s A call to arms front page. Photograph: News Corp

Jones left 2GB a year ago citing poor health, a decision Nine management welcomed because his offensive views on women had sparked an advertiser boycott that was affecting revenue and the station’s reputation.

Hundreds of advertisers pulled out after Jones suggested Scott Morrison shove a sock down the throat of the New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern.

Although Nine is happy with the return of advertisers that accompanied the departure of Jones, and fellow shock jock Steve Price, the Australian has claimed “hard-hitting conservative ­voices” had quit 2GB, which had “lowered the conservative tone” of the station and led to a drop in ratings.

The Nine station’s top-rating broadcasters include Hadley, Jones replacement Ben Fordham and Chris Smith, all well known for their conservative views rather than their left-leanings.

Jones has angered Hadley with his daily attacks on the decision by the NSW government to lock down greater Sydney.

“[In 2019] there were no lockdowns, mandatory masks, border closures, business ruined, egotistical ministers locking the country down, and how we wouldn’t return to normal for years,” Jones said on Sky News.

“I inflicted the ultimate pain upon myself by watching an absurd press conference on Friday by Gladys Berejiklian.”

Hadley said his listeners were increasingly upset and confused by Jones’ rhetoric against mask wearing and he urged them not to listen to him, and to take their advice from NSW health authorities only.

#Exclusive - Australia’s brightest scientific minds have joined forces to urge Australians to get vaccinated, arguing Covid is more insidious than the rare side effects attached to some of our vaccines.https://t.co/vnO9y7LdjA

— The Courier-Mail (@couriermail) July 12, 2021

It’s not the first time Hadley and Bolt have traded barbs, with Hadley accusing Bolt last year of being “soft on paedophiles”.

In recent weeks Jones has talked up a return to radio saying the public is “screaming out” for conservative voices and broadcasters were “too intimidated to say what needs to be said”. Jones has signalled he would welcome a return to radio, telling the Australian that Sky News doesn’t allow him to canvass all his favourite topics like radio did.

The 80-year-old has accused his successors of not having the “balls”
to stand up to “cancel culture warriors”.

“Government and media and big pharma seem to be all in bed together,” he said.

“There is a growing media trend which seems to willingly, readily, and too frequently accommodate the left.

“There’s a whole viewpoint I think that is not being represented by contemporary media.”

A message to the boneheads in the Murdoch media trying to undermine Premier Berejiklian: stop it. This is a public health emergency, not another front in your stupid bloody culture war. We must stop the spread to protect jobs, save lives and to spare people from long Covid. pic.twitter.com/4wvk7ZvUrH

— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) July 10, 2021

After a strong start when he took over Jones’ breakfast show Fordham has seen a drop in his latest ratings, but the younger demographic favoured by advertisers remains strong and the drop-off has been in the older audience who were rusted on to Jones.


Amanda Meade

The GuardianTramp

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