Stan Grant’s decision to stand down from the ABC over ongoing racial abuse has been met with anger and sadness.
The proud Wiradjuri journalist has been under fire for his views on the monarchy, particularly after the backlash of the ABC’s coverage of the coronation of King Charles III earlier this month.
“Stan Grant will stop hosting Q+A after Monday’s episode and pause other commitments, citing racist abuse he has received,” ABC News tweeted on Friday.
Grant in a considered essay said the response by some media to the May 6 Coronation segment he was involved in and the failure of ABC executives to stand up for him led him to decide to take a break for an indefinite time.
He will moderate Q+A next Monday night before taking leave from the program and other contributions to the national broadcaster.
He said the reaction had been wounding, not least from the ABC.
“Not one ABC executive has publicly refuted the lies written or spoken about me. I don’t hold any individual responsible; this is an institutional failure,” he wrote.
“Since the King’s coronation, I have seen people in the media lie and distort my words. They have tried to depict me as hate filled. They have accused me of maligning Australia,” Grant wrote in an essay an ABC online.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. My ancestors would not allow me to be filled with hate.
“I was invited to contribute to the ABC’s coverage as part of a discussion about the legacy of the monarchy.
“I pointed out that the crown represents the invasion and theft of our land. In the name of the Crown, my people were segregated on missions and reserves. Police wearing the seal of the crown took children from their families. Under the Crown our people were massacred.
Grant’s in depth explanation of his decision to step down also included wider criticism of the media but also the racism he has been subjected to.
“I don’t take time out because of racism — I won’t give racists the satisfaction. I don’t take time out because I believe the ABC was wrong to discuss the legacy of colonisation and empire on the day of the coronation,” he wrote.
“We did that, I believe, with maturity and respect.
“I take time out because we have shown again that our history — our hard truth — is too big, too fragile, too precious for the media. The media sees only battle lines, not bridges. It sees only politics.”
He said he would stand down from the program and doing other work for the ABC, but does not say how long he will stay away.
There has been an outpouring of support for Grant, but an online backlash as well.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the decision of one of the most prominent Indigenous Australians to take a back seat was telling, especially ahead of the Voice referendum this year.
“You only have to look at one of my social media feeds to see some of the comments that, quite frankly, are completely out of line,” Mr Albanese said on arriving in Hiroshima where he is attending the G7 leaders summit.
“ We can have respect for different views without engaging in vilification, and that‘s important.”
Sarah Ferguson, presenter of ABC TV’s 7.3o, said Grant was an admired colleague.
“The abuse directed at him is disgusting. There are no words adequate to the horror we feel at this. Stan is brilliant ant cherished.”
Greens leader Adam Bandt described Grant’s decision as heartbreaking.
“This is heartbreaking, infuriating news. All power to you for saying ‘enough’, Stan, but I am sorry and angry that you’ve had to make this decision,” Mr Bandt tweeted.
He said in the article he was sorry some monarchists were offended by the ABC’s coverage.
“That was never my intent. I thought I used words of love. Clearly, I failed. I have to accept I am part of the problem. I am part of the media that fails the Australian people every day.”
Grant also called out the ABC for its lack of support over the Coronation furore, but thanked ABC Director of New Justin Stevens for “his support and comfort”.
“I am writing this not because I think it will make a difference. No doubt the haters will twist this, too, and trigger another round of racism,” he said.
Fellow journalists have posted support, including 7.30 presented Sarah Ferguson.
“I am writing this because no one at the ABC — whose producers invited me onto their Coronation coverage as a guest — has uttered one word of public support.
“Not one ABC executive has publicly refuted the lies written or spoken about me. I don’t hold any individual responsible; this is an institutional failure.
“I was not the producer nor presenter of the Coronation broadcast yet every newspaper article accusing the ABC of bias has carried my image. I am writing this because I will not have people depict me as a person of hate.”
Mr Stevens said Grant had been subjected to “grotesque racist abuse” which included threats to his safety particularly since the ABC’s Coronation coverage.
“It is abhorrent and unacceptable,” Mr Stevens said.
“He was not the instigator of the program. He was asked to participate as a Wiradjuri man to discuss his own family’s experience and the role of the monarchy in Australian in the context of Indigenous history.”
Mr Stevens said the segment Mr Grant appeared in was just part of the Coronation coverage and fitted within the ABC’s role to facilitate “such important conversations, however confronting and uncomfortable, and to reflect the diversity of perspectives.”
The ABC Ombudsman is investigating the editorial complaints received about the coverage.
He said the responsibility for the coverage lies with ABC News management, not Mr Grant.
“Yet he it is he who has borne the brunt of a tirade of criticism, particularly in the usual section of the media that target the ABC,” he said in a statement.
“Reporting on his contribution to the panel discussion has been unfair, inaccurate and irresponsible. It has contributed to fuelling horrendous personal and racial abuse.”