‘I’m part of the problem’: Stan Grant delivers powerful speech on Q+A

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Stan Grant said that he feels he is part of the problem afflicting the media during his final moments as host of Q+A on Monday night, before beginning an indefinite break from journalism.

“Sometimes we just need to take time out, sometimes our souls are hurting, and so it is for me,” Grant said, as tears welled in his eyes. “I’m not walking away for a while because of racism – we get that far too often. I’m not walking away because of social media hatred. I need a break from the media. I feel like I’m part of the problem. And I need to ask myself how or if we can do it better.”

Stan Grant makes an emotional speech after stepping down as host of Q+A. Credit: ABC

Grant, a 59-year-old Wiradjuri man, announced he would step down from his role as host of Q+A in a piece published on the ABC on Friday, citing exhaustion from persistent racist abuse he has faced.

“If your aim was to hurt me, well, you succeeded. And I’m sorry,” he said at the end of Monday’s show. “I’m sorry that I must have given you so much cause to hate me so much, to target me and my family, to make threats against me … I’m not just responsible for what I do, but for what you do.”

Grant was joined by a panel of first-term federal MP’s – including Labor’s Michelle Ananda-Rajah, Liberal Zoe McKenzie, independent David Pocock, Jacqui Lambie Network member Tammy Tyrrell and the Greens’ Max Chandler-Mather – to discuss topics including housing affordability, the national anti-corruption commission and the TikTok ban on public service devices. But the topic that book-ended the show was race.

The episode both began and ended with questions on racist hate speech and experiences of racism in Australia.

Addressing the issue of Grant head-on, Chandler-Mather argued the ABC did not defend Grant enough or in a timely manner – a point that was met with applause from the crowd.

Writing in his column on Friday, the three-time Walkley Award winner said he wanted to distance himself from what he described as the “social media sewer” and the “stench of the media”.

“Racism is a crime. Racism is violence. And I have had enough,” he said. “On social media my family and I are regularly racially mocked or abused. This is not new. Barely a week goes by when I am not racially targeted.

“I don’t even read it, yet I can’t escape it. People stop me in the street to tell me how vile it is. They tell me how sorry they are. Although I try to shield myself from it, the fact it is out there poisons the air I breathe.”

He said the abuse intensified following his contribution to ABC TV’s King Charles III coronation coverage, in which he spoke about what the legacy of the crown meant to him as an Indigenous man.

Following the online vitriol, Grant said no ABC executives defended him or offered their public support. However, he held no individual responsible, instead calling it an “institutional failure”.

ABC managing director David Anderson on Sunday apologised to Grant in an email to staff, and announced plans to review how the broadcaster tackles racism sustained by staff. Other high-profile staff, such as Insiders host David Speers, RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas, former radio and TV host Fran Kelly and Melbourne radio host Virginia Trioli, have also shown their support via social media.

On Monday afternoon, ABC staff rallied outside of Sydney and Melbourne headquarters in support of the departing host, holding placards that read “I stand with Stan” and “we reject racism”. And in the first interview given by an ABC senior representative on the issue, director of news Justin Stevens said he regretted not defending Grant earlier, and urged other media and social media critics to “stop going after people for doing their jobs”.

Grant has been the sole host of Q+A since August last year after sharing the role with Trioli and Speers for about a year. The previous sole host, Hamish MacDonald, also cited social media abuse as part of the reason he decided to leave. Next week, Karvelas will fill in as host.

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