Shock Jock Therapy: The Unacknowledged Public Service Of Alan Jones And Ray Hadley


Now and again we all need to get issues off our chest. We might drink with a mate, lunch with our folks, or pay for a therapist.

Someone we trust not to judge or disclose.

So I understand why, for Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton, going on 2GB is a cathartic experience. You can float your amateur historiography on Nazi Germany. You can complain about Islamo-Fairfax-fascism without anybody saying, calm down mate. Your local shock jock and loyal listeners will give you a safe space.

The problem is the rest of us can all listen. Obviously, we don’t. Radio is so last century, and listening to 2GB is a recipe for madness. But journalists do, and report back.

This week 2GB Agony Aunts, Ray Hadley and Alan Jones, showed their uncanny knack for getting conservative MP’s to open up.

Alan Jones offers a mixture of support and encouragement.  He throws in a lot of “good on you” and “well done” with a healthy dose of “we can do better”. The former rugby coach challenges his charges to go forward, or to the right.

Hadley also offers encouragement and re-assurance. He rarely asks a tough question. On the odd occasion Hadley puts the kind of question you would expect from a Fairfax-jihadist, he is quick to answer it himself. For example on 11 June this year Hadley did ask Peter Dutton about the allegations the AFP paid people smugglers to turn around. However, Hadley was quick to reassure Dutton the allegation was ridiculous and he need not answer it.

It is easy to see why Abbott and Dutton are at ease, recently a little too at ease.

Tony Abbott claimed that unlike ISIS, the Nazis had “sufficient shame” to cover up their atrocities.

Tony has since defended himself, he never meant to “rank evil”, he was just making a general observation about the Nazis.

The problem for Tony is when some of the real Tony is shared in public. We all know the real Tony is weird. Positively reflecting on the Nazi’s shame is damn weird.

Putting to one side whether the fascists really had a refined sense of shame, Abbott’s comment raises so many questions.

Who in his right mind discusses “redeeming traits of the Nazis” (unless it is a topic on Family Feud)?

Even if you do not think your Nazi comments were offensive, how, after 55 years of living, do you not know others might find them offensive?

Do you believe shame is a positive virtue? Is a criminal less morally reprehensible for a crime if she covers it up meticulously?

Why do you keep comparing things to the Nazis? Don’t you know the first one to raise the Nazis loses? Have you not read the Internet?

I cannot answer these questions. Just as I cannot answer why Tony Abbott, said he found homosexuality threatening, described himself as a “muscular Christian”, and describing virginity as the greatest gift his daughters had to give. All. In. Public.

On the other hand, Peter Dutton is not that weird, but he appears to be quite angry. He’s working that anger out with Ray Hadley.

He has previously used a session with Hadley to call Sarah Hanson-Young a disgrace to the nation, and gratuitously lay into Gillian Triggs.

Hadley sought to cheer Dutto up with a parody of “Forever Young” called “Forever dumb”. Yes, the joke was that Sarah Hanson-Young is not very smart. Yes, they equated physical disability (deafness) with mental disability. Yes, Dutto laughed. Angry dude.

But this last week I’ve become more sympathetic to Peter Dutton’s anger.

Dutton accused Fairfax and the ABC of waging “jihad” against the government. I prefer to call it guerilla-journalism. Two stories seem to rile him: cabinet leaks and abuse in detention centers.

Peter Dutton does not deny the truth of Fairfax stories. Border Force did send the press release in question, the Moss Report has documented abuse in detention centers, and the cabinet leaks are real. His problem is these facts are reported.

If you cannot contain your anger every time journalists report facts, politics might not be the game for you.

Not every journalist is like Ray Hadley; some will ask tough questions instead of offering you a hug. Journalists won’t listen to your whining, without pointing out that you chose to get elected.

Ray won’t tell him to toughen up, suggest that the Government get an economic policy, or, that in light of stalking allegations, his obsession with Sarah Hanson-Young is a little creepy. Ray Hadley doesn’t judge Peter Dutton. He only judges the left. Peter gets unconditional love.

It is easy to attack Ray Hadley and Alan Jones as shock jocks. But this week I realized they offer something more – a counseling service for arch-conservatives trying to make sense of the changing world.

It’s unfortunate it has to be recorded.

Mathew Kenneally is a stand up comedian who moonlights as a lawyer. He's a regular new Matilda columnist and is the co-author with Toby Halligan of the satirical blog Diary Leaks. He is also the co-founder of the topical comedy room Political Asylum.