IT was a measure of the depth of public anger about Alan Jones’ most recent controversy that the broadcaster – not known for admitting that he got something wrong – was moved to issue an on-air apology this week.
Among those like Jones, who are employed to be furious for a few hours each morning, there is no room for uncertainty.
There’s is a world of heroes and villains, black and white, thunderous pronouncements and paint-peeling denunciations.
To be uncertain is to be unclear, and if there’s one thing a broadcaster like Jones prizes it is clarity.
So why this apology (a half-hearted apology, admittedly, but still a most unusual event) and why this anger? Hasn’t Jones said far worse before?
(He has. He once said the then prime minister’s late father had died of shame.)
The anger caused by his interview with Sydney Opera House chief Louise Herron last week is not just about the interruptions, the rudeness, the “who do you think you are”.
There was something else.
It was in Jones’ boast that he would be on the phone to Premier Gladys Berejiklian within minutes of the interview ending, his warning to Ms Herron to change her position or face the consequences.
It was in Jones’ utter certainty that in an argument with the chief of the opera house over how that opera house should be used, it wouldn’t be Ms Herron who would be getting her way.
It was “the vibe” of the conversation, as Dennis Denuto might put it, and the vibe was about power – who has it and who does not.
The reaction to the Jones interview has been visceral this past week, but it has also been curious.
Jones is an angry man, but he broadcasts in an angry age.
Out in the badlands of social media, we snipe at, insult, threaten and traduce each other every day. We harass and defame with barely a thought about the consequences.
Some of us form online mobs to try to have those who displease us fired. Others do worse.
Social media has made us all broadcasters, publishers, film-makers. But how many of us are allowing the other person to have their say?
That doesn’t make Jones right, of course. But there are more than one of us who could heed the lesson of simple civility.