Tony Jones’ chronic case of interruptivitis
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Tony Jones’ chronic case of interruptivitis

Conservatives have long reckoned that senior ABC television journalist, Tony Jones shows bias towards Labor. In fact, The ShadowLands has looked at the issue before here:  However, this does not necessarily demonstrate any personal bias from Tony Jones, just that a program he hosts is stacked with left-leaning guests.

So we asked ourselves – is it possible to find empirical evidence that might suggest Tony Jones favours a politician from one side or the other?

The test we came up with was to compare the transcripts of interviews between Jones and the Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey and Treasurer Wayne Swan.

You might think that by comparing a question that Jones asked Swan:

Alright, now in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Australians keep getting good economic news. We’re not in recession even though you told us we were. Unemployment appears to have stabilised as have share markets. There’s a lot of talk about green shoots of recovery. So some analysts are even starting to say this could be the mildest recession that Australia has experienced. What do you say to those analysts? 

with one he asked the Shadow Treasurer:

Do you really think that voters want to hand over a highly-tuned economy to someone who makes basic mistakes about the economy and makes basic mistakes about Australia’s ability to pay back its debt?

that the answer is self-evident, however what we are looking at here are the numbers, and here are the results:

Percentage of interview time allocated 

From a 3482 word segment, 2027 words were spoken by Hockey and 1455 words by Tony Jones – thus Tony Jones took up 42 per cent of the words used in the interview.

Out of a 2960 word segment, Treasurer, Wayne Swan spoke 2190 words, 870 words by Tony Jones, thus Tony Jones took up 29 per cent of the words in the interview.


As indicated by the ellipsis punctuation (…) appearing at the end of an unfinished sentence, Hockey was interrupted 20 times.

As indicated by the ellipsis punctuation (…) appearing at the end of an unfinished sentence, Swan was interrupted 0 times.


As a result of Jones’ interruptions, Shadow Treasurer Hockey’s sentences included the following:

And the fundamental point is this government is wasting …

Well, the media, OK – well, the media are …

Well, Tony, Barnaby …
/>Well wait a second. Hang on, you …
/>Well, come on, Tony, I mean, this is a line from …
/>No, no, no no. Let’s just put this in context. Our governor of the Reserve Bank …
/>Tony, can I tell you …
/>Tony, can I say: I really believe …
/>Well, no. I think what we’ve seen …
/>Well, you know what: Australians can see through that, and they will see through that, because Australians …

However, let it not be said that Jones never interrupts Labor people. Take this, for example, from a recent episode of Q and A:  

STEVEN LEE: Hi. My question to you is in regard to the 2007 campaign win, which got you the Prime Minister role. In that campaign you had the slogan “Kevin ’07” and I was wondering in the upcoming election if you could give us a sneak preview or some sort of insight into your new slogan.
/>KEVIN RUDD: Right, thank you for that. No. Next question? I suppose if we had an election in 2011, which would cause the eyebrows to go up, it could be Kevin ’11, but…
/>TONY JONES: I thought about this a bit. If you campaigned heavily on the stimulus package you could call it “Manna From Kevin”.