He’s been caught up in controversies before, but now radio host Alan Jones has landed himself in serious hot water after using the n-word live on air – before being forced to apologise hours later.
The 77-year-old was discussing the leadership saga taking over Aussie politics this week on his Thursday 2GB breakfast show when he launched into the foul-mouthed rant.
Making reference to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who has has since declared he will not support Malcolm Turnbull and resigned from his position, Jones insisted it was time Turnbull stepped down as Prime Minister and Labor leader Bill Shorten took over power.
“Anyone can stand… but they are mobilising to block Dutton,” he said. “The n***** in the woodpile here, if one can use that expression – and I’m not going to yield to people who tell us that certain words in the language are forbidden – the person who’s playing hard to get is Mathias Cormann.”
The phrase itself is often used in a similar way to colloquial phrase ‘skeleton in the closet’ and was commonly used in the United States. Some claim it originated from a time when slaves were smuggled across the country underneath piles of wood. Essentially, it was used to describe a person who is the cause of a problem, but many now see it as deeply offensive and racist.
His outburst immediately sparked furious comments on social media, with one listener writing: “I an not going to yield to Alan Jones asserting you can still use the N-word on air. And people chose not to long before the matter was ever debated. Get in the bin you racist man.”
Another added: “Alan Jones: doing it for racists since 1941,” and one wrote: “So Alan Jones, maybe the biggest media backer of the Dutton/Abbott disaster is arguing that the most abhorrent racist word should be allowed. F*** off.”
He has since apologised on Twitter, writing: “We all make mistakes. This morning on 2GB and 4BC I spoke about the covert actions of some political operatives in the current leadership challenges within the Liberal Party.
“I used an old and offensive figure of speech that I regret saying. People should be honest and forthright in their actions and that is not happening in the Liberal Party right now. I will have more to say on this tomorrow.”
It’s not the first time he’s used it on air and in 2012 he reportedly uttered the same phrase to describe Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership ambitions.
“Good stuff, Tony Abbott,” he said at the time, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “You’re there not to buckle at the knees just because a few little media outlets and sympathisers to Julia Gillard want you to. There’s talk of Maclolm Turnbull, the n***** in the woodpile.”
He also reportedly used the term in 2011 to describe former Australian cricket captain Greg Chappell.
Meanwhile, it came up in another of his debates in 2007, the Mail Online reports, while he was describing the Commonwealth.
“The Commonwealth is a bit of a n***** in the woodpile here,” he reportedly said at the time.