How the ABC leapt to Lisa Millar’s defence and forgot Stan Grant

How the ABC came out all guns blazing over horrific trolling of its white breakfast star Lisa Millar – but ‘no one’ at the public broadcaster supported indigenous presenter Stan Grant after racist abuse, he claims

  • Q+A host Stan Grant is stepping down amid racist abuse
  • He wrote that ‘no-one’ at the ABC has defended him
  • Broadcaster fiercely defended Lisa Millar when she was trolled 

The experience of two high profile ABC presenters subjected to appalling online abuse from trolls appears to have prompted vastly different reactions from the national broadcaster.

Indigenous Q+A host Stan Grant on Friday wrote a lengthy column explaining he was stepping down from the show after receiving ‘relentless’ racial abuse, which had ramped up since he appeared on coverage of King Charles’ coronation

‘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,’ Mr Grant wrote in his column.

‘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 added.

In stark contrast, when white ABC News Breakfast presenter Lisa Millar was just weeks ago targeted by horrendous trolls who attacked her for an outfit she wore on the program, the ABC went ‘on the warpath’ almost immediately.

Q+A host Stan Grant announced on Friday he would be stepping down from the program following a surge in racist abuse from trolls before firing a parting shot at the ABC

Just a day after the March 6 incident, which happened to be the same week as International Women’s Day, the broadcaster hit out at not only the trolls but also other media outlets which had reported on it. 

‘The relentless and vile bullying Lisa Millar is subjected to on social media, particularly Twitter, is unacceptable. She is an outstanding broadcaster and journalist and does an incredible job,’ news director Justin Stevens said.

‘Media outlets that amplify this disgusting anonymous trolling need to take a good hard look at themselves and their standards,’ he added.

News Breakfast co-host Michael Rowland also leapt to his colleague’s defence tweeting: ‘Enough of the abusive comments… and enough of amplifying the bullying’.

The Guardian reported it was ‘new policy’ at the ABC to publicly call out trolls targeting their staff, while Ms Millar was also given airtime on the show to address the situation. 

But it seems Mr Grant feels he wasn’t given the same treatment.

‘I value the friendship of ABC Director of News, Justin Stevens,’ Mr Grant said.

‘He has been a support and a comfort. He is trying to change an organisation that has its own legacy of racism. But he knows I am disappointed. I am dispirited.’

Mr Grant did note that earlier this year the ABC lodged an official complaint with Twitter regarding the racial abuse directed at him.

The ABC was lightning quick to fiercely publicly defend News Breakfast host Lisa Millar when she was subjected to bullying from trolls regarding an outfit she wore in the program

Mr Stevens also released a statement on Friday condemning the racial abuse directed at Mr Grant.

It was similar in tone to the comments he made regarding Ms Millar.

‘Racist abuse, including threats to (Mr Grant’s) safety have become particularly virulent since he appeared as part of the ABC’s Coronation coverage,’ Mr Stevens wrote. 

‘Stan is one of Australia’s best and most respected journalists and broadcasters. The ABC stands by him and condemns the attacks directed towards him.’

‘The ABC has and will continue to refer any threats to police.’

‘The responsibility for the coverage lies with ABC News management, not with Stan Grant. Yet it is he who has borne the brunt of a tirade of criticism, particularly in the usual sections of the media that target the ABC.’

In his column on Friday, Mr Grant gave no indication when he would be back on board with Q+A, one of the ABC’s most-viewed programs. 

‘On Monday night I will present my Q+A program, then walk away. For how long? I don’t know,’ the host wrote.

‘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.’

Grant, who opens each Q+A live broadcast with an acknowledgement to country in his native Wiradjuri language, said he didn't want the racists to win and was only stepping down until he feels public discourse could handle such topics (he is pictured with his wife Tracey Holmes)