30 May 2023

No offence, but I have an opinion ...

| Ross Solly
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stan grant on Q&A

Stan Grant’s last appearance on Q&A on Monday, 22 May. Photo: ABC.

Whenever I write these columns, I do so knowing there’s a fairly high chance someone, somewhere, will take offence.

It rarely matters what the subject is. I could be enthusiastically espousing the work of the Salvation Army or the joys of ice cream on a summer’s afternoon; whatever it is, you can guarantee somebody will take umbrage.

Just so you know, I always read the comments at the bottom of each article I write. Quite often, they are points well made, introducing a new angle or challenging a fact I have dubiously included in my rant.

What I nearly always find is our correspondents are very learned, much more so than myself, and bring in-depth responses and analysis of the columns we write. Quite often, they have inside knowledge of the topic and, through the use of usually not-so-clever noms de plume, bring a whole new insight to the issue.

And then there are those who obviously have not even read the column or have failed to grasp its intent and head off on a tangent with expletive-laden vitriol that I’m sure would make a sailor blush.

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It doesn’t really bother me. I’ve come to terms with the fact that a handful of keyboard warriors who are hardly ever brave enough to put their real name behind their diatribes and rarely have more than a handful of followers on social media want to hate.

When you write a column, be it as a media operative, a columnist, an expert or just someone with an opinion, you have to expect to wear some flak. Of course, it’s not right. Of course, it can be hurtful. But if you want to be a player in these affairs, you must be prepared to pay the cost.

The easy solution is don’t read the comments. Switch off your social media. Don’t feed the trolls. Develop a thick skin.

Before the trolls jump in here and remind me I am a privileged middle-class white male, yes, I am. And I will never know what it’s like to be abused for the colour of my skin, my sexual preferences, or my religious beliefs.

Attacks of this nature are abhorrent, and those responsible must be called out. Whether it be on social media, over the fence at a sports ground, or just walking down the street, we should never stand by and ignore it.

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The team who presented the ABC’s Coronation coverage were always going to find themselves in the firing line. The monarchists were watching very closely, looking for even the slightest example of anti-royalist sentiment.

Obviously, they didn’t need to wait too long or look too hard to find it. It’s well known now that most of the panel were very strident in their republican views. How the panel expected these views to go over with an audience who were clearly very keen to watch the coronation of the King should not have been a surprise.

Were they the right panel for the occasion? Was the tone of the conversation right? Did they read the room? Probably no to all three.

Should they have expected criticism as a result? Absolutely. Should that criticism include racist and sexist slurs? Never.

Stan Grant has now announced he will step away from his public roles on the ABC. It’s a big price to pay for a man who has fought long and hard to have his voice heard and respected in Australia but has been worn down by the racist and personal attacks.

By all means, Grant should have been challenged for the views he expressed. He expects that sort of response every time he ventures forth an opinion. But we still have a long way to go until we as a nation can have a mature discussion on these important issues.

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I was a fan of Q&A until Stan took over as the mediator. It seems to me that he was too eager to push his own point of view with little regard to that of his guests. My friends agree.

daveinhackett8:24 am 25 May 23

I’ve searched high and low for ANY example of the alleged abuse in question (so I can make up my own mind whether it was indeed abuse); such examples are never given in the media – we are expected to accept their word for it that abuse happened, and move immediately to the victimhood aspect.

Oh I see – it’s only racial abuse if you decide it is. Got it.

Capital Retro4:21 pm 25 May 23

Just for once, JS how about you change your non-de-plume to “JustDeclaring” and give both dave and myself an example couple of these alleged racial abuses that you and your fellow travelers claim?

@Capital Retro
I’m not going to indulge your voyeurism, CR … suffice to say even Murdoch’s Australian paper (https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/offensive-slurs-littered-across-abc-social-media-accounts-following-stan-grants-departure/news-story/16aa4d0d7a6dba77276e3bad65674965?amp) described twitter posts on the ABC’s account as a “slew of unmoderated, disgraceful racist slurs against Indigenous journalist Stan Grant”. Fill yer boots on the ABCs twitter account – I don’t use the platform.

Capital Retro,
You realise someone has been charged for the abuse and threats right?

Surely no one can deny that there is a proportion of the population who engage in this type of behaviour, particularly on social media.


Capital Retro6:15 pm 26 May 23

Err, we are talking about racial abuses, not threats. Nothing about racial abuse mentioned in that article.

I guess it’s like Julia Gillard’s claims of Tony Abbott being a misogynist yet no examples of that have ever been revealed. With the left, only the narrative matters.

Capital Retro,
You should probably try digging up from that hole you’re in.

@Capital Retro
The fact that you deny Grant suffered racial abuse as a result of the ABC program during the coronation – when there are numerous media articles reporting on it but not actually quoting the vile comments, says more about the kind of person you are, CR, than it being a narrative. And let me just say the kind of person it shows you to be is not flattering.

@Capital Retro
I notice you conveniently chose to ignore the link to the article in The Australian which I provided above. You know the article which states in the first paragraph (so you don’t have to be a subscriber to read it) “The ABC’s own Twitter accounts are carrying a slew of unmoderated, disgraceful racist slurs against Indigenous journalist Stan Grant”.
I guess you don’t want to acknowledge that post, as it would force you to accept the truth – unless you claim that Murdoch’s Australian paper is just spreading fake news.

HiddenDragon8:35 pm 24 May 23

For some time, Stan Grant has been a symptom of a national broadcaster which is a conflicted and confused organization. One moment, it is churning out imported British programming of limited relevance to contemporary Australia, but just what you would expect from what is still, essentially, a colonial outpost of the BBC – and the next, it is shaking a righteously angry fist at the very same British heritage (the latter, ironically, often using language and ideas imported from the other great cultural imperialists of recent times, the Americans).

With his coronation day cri de coeur –


– laced with exquisite references to James Joyce and Derrida (and a stunningly ironic potshot at another culture’s “antediluvian ritual”), and reading like a re-working of Hamlet’s soliloquy but on the subject of race, and then the drama ensuing the ABC’s coronation broadcast, Stan has become an emblem and a martyr, of sorts, of that conflict and confusion.

The ABC needs to find a better way of representing a genuine diversity of views (than BBC coverage of a British royal event preceded by a dismal, one-eyed hate-fest on the legacy of British imperialism and colonialism), and the people who are provoked to outrage by it need to explore other options on the remote control.

Fantastic he is leaving , started a bush fire, carried on wasn’t the time or place, he is the problem , so over the focus on ‘indigenous’ every thing, does the world revolve this issue

I’m old enough to remember when Stan Grant and Maria Kostakidis (I think I got the name right!) were joint news presenters on SBS TV – Maria resigned saying that Stan was an impossibly difficult person to work with – though she didn’t expand in detail the nature of her complaint. Could this have something to do with things?

Not The Mama5:36 pm 24 May 23

Hi Ross,

It’s not bad to be a White Anglo Saxon White Male. It’s bad not to realise being one comes with privilege and advantage and to believe that what you have and what you have achieved have nothing to do with either that or just plain good fortune. I have been listening and reading your stuff for many years and I don’t think you have anything to be ashamed of in that regard.

However it strikes me that as a journalist in the ACT you will not have been exposed to the extreme sort of vitriol that those who – like Stan Grant – box in the National Media boxing ring might have.

No excuses for the perpetrators of racism and bigotry. But in this case I can’t help but feel that Stan – given his experience and the way that he has used his position to promote his opinions – should have seen this coming and kept his guard up to protect his glass jaw (continuing with the boxing metaphor).

@Not The Mama
Perhaps Grant is punch drunk (to continue your boxing metaphor) from the constant “racist blows to the head” he has sustained over the years.

Capital Retro4:23 pm 25 May 23

Can you give details of those alleged “racist blows to the head”?

Have always thought Stan Grant was a good journalist but seriously in the last few years he has been given free reign on the ABC to continuously lecture Australians about Indigenous disadvantage repeating himself over & over again. He’s become boring & repetitive.

Matthew Brain7:33 pm 24 May 23

He’s not lecturing people on mob, he’s educating the wider community you have no idea about what’s actually driving the issues impacting mob today. By saying he’s lecturing the wider community, it’s minimizing the sharing of knowledge and information intended to close the gap about what people know and what they don’t.

I’m totally against racism so can only wonder why Stan, who has increasingly taken the role of race warrior and provocateur in his ABC columns and broadcasts, shows surprise at the heat of the flames from the fire he continually stokes. Stan is a veteran broadcaster who has worked all around the world and yet he is stunned by the inevitable responses of morons. Intriguing. The cynic in me says it’s a publicity stunt to promote his book, The Queen Is Dead. Or is it just a coincidence?

Ian Horswill2:27 pm 24 May 23

No-one should be racially abused but everyone misses the point. The platform for this abuse is social media and why is it allowed? I thought governments were going tough on the operators of social media. It should be fairly straightforward to stop this nonsense being written or to ban the keyboard warriors from using their platforms.

As both a Republican and pro-voice I still found myself a bit annoyed by the focus in recent discussions on the impact of the Monarchy on indigenous Australians. Inquiring into my own state of mind I think I’m just a bit fatigued with the relentless focus on indigenous issues, which is probably a consequence of the Voice debates. The English Monarchy is a 1000-year old institution which has had an impact on just about everyone in the English speaking world. They have been an equal opportunity persecutor.

TruthinMedia1:06 pm 24 May 23

‘Loud’ people more interested in increasing their own profiles will never achieve significant positive change in Australia. ‘Shouty’ politics is anathema to many Australians and that is why Turnbull, Fitzgibbon and others have failed to make headway with the Republican debate. Albo would have been better served tackling the republic debate in a calm but firm manner because that issue does require debate about how government and the constitution work and in one stroke we could have removed the British yoke held responsible for the early miseries of indigenous Australians and appointed an indigenous Australian as our first President to work with Government on how indigenous needs and aspirations can be woven into government and bureaucratic decision making long term and protected from arbitrary change by future governments. We could then move to an elected president after that first 5(?) year term if appropriate.

Stephen Saunders11:59 am 24 May 23

The Buttrose-Anderson ABC is a more of a royalist concern, and Albanese’s “republic” is just a con, he’ll never deliver. There’s no need at all to play the race card, but Stan ought to be able to read the room.

Capital Retro8:30 am 24 May 23

I have never seen a “personal or racial” attack on Stan Grant on the media. Can someone send me a link for a couple as I would like to make my own judgement on what is “racist”.

And Ross, in what ways are you a ” privileged middle-class white male”?

@Capital Retro
Yeah right, CR. As if we could expect an objective arbirtration on racism from you.

Capital Retro4:11 pm 24 May 23

After commenting on the first question you didn’t answer the second question.

It’s hard to get good help these days, Ross.

@Capital Retro
No question to be answered – Solly made a statement of fact as he sees himself … I assume he is allowed to do so, CR – or does he need to clear it with you first?

Capital Retro1:25 pm 25 May 23

Typical response from JS. Long on invective and short on information.

@Capital Retro
My apologies if I offended your tender sensibilities, CR in making a very factual and informative statement – “Solly made a statement of fact as he sees himself” … if I wanted to engage in invective I would suggest you learn to read – but I certainly don’t want to offend your tender sensibilities even further.

Whilst I think it goes without saying that mindless abuse dished out to people who work in the media is horrible and needs to be stopped where possible, part of the problem is the significant blurring of the line between journalists reporting on news/events and wanting to be part of the story themselves as opinion writers.

The fact that many journalists have their own social media where they frequently put out very strong views cruels any attempt to then claim some sort of objectivity in other settings. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Blowback for these opinions is part of nature of the beast and how social media has allowed everyone to say whatever they are thinking/feeling at any time.

Stuart Littlemore wrote a great piece the other day outlining some of these issues well


Balance needed1:19 pm 24 May 23

I agree entirely with this comment.

This wasn’t a case of “mindless abuse dished out to people who work in the media” – it was targeted racial abuse at an indigenous man. There were other republicans on the panel who did not receive such vilification.
The fact that people took issue with his opinions on the monarchy is fine. Debate the issues with him. However, I cannot understand how anyone can feel that calling out racism could ever be seen as an attempt to “have your cake and eat it too”.
I don’t subscribe to SMH, so unfortunately I am unable to read Stuart Littlemore’s piece.

Just Saying
I’m not sure what you’re trying to say because it doesn’t relate to my points at all.

Racist abuse IS mindless abuse. Those who engage in it are wrong and we should work towards ending/minimising it, although stopping it completely would be almost impossible.

Due to the sewer of social media, a minority of people unable to debate the issues are now able to be heard wider and more directly attack others. In no way am I suggesting this is acceptable.

But it doesn’t really relate to my point, this was not just a one off event about “calling out racism”, Stan Grant has had long involvement with activism and advocacy of certain strong positions whilst also holding supposedly objective and impartial roles within the ABC (there are many others who fall into this category too). The two are incompatible and lead to wider criticism and pressure on the individuals and their ability to perform what their actual jobs should be.

The ABC definitely hold blame in this but it isn’t because they don’t protect their stars enough, it’s because they’ve exacerbated (actually encouraged) the problem through lower quality journalism and not defining what they and their staff’s role actually is in the media landscape.

ps, you don’t actually need to be a subscriber of the SMH to read the article.

“Stan Grant has had long involvement with activism and advocacy of certain strong positions whilst also holding supposedly objective and impartial roles within the ABC”

How are these two incompatible? I guess it comes down to your perspective. You probably find the Sky News and Murdoch press journalists to be objective and impartial.

Balance needed4:30 pm 24 May 23

In case you can’t read the excellent Littlemore piece in the SMH, here’s an important extract:

“The ABC has catastrophically undermined its authority and independence by permitting journalists to post personal commentary on the corporation’s digital outlets, and to parade their egos on social media. Thus, we get defamatory stupidities on Twitter that cause huge reputational (and financial) damage to the ABC. Thus, we get the Stan Grant debacle.

By failing to draw clear contractual guidelines for ABC staff, whether on-air or not, the corporation has abandoned a longstanding policy that ensured impartiality.”

“How are these two incompatible? I guess it comes down to your perspective. You probably find the Sky News and Murdoch press journalists to be objective and impartial.”

They are inherently incompatible. Even if it was limited to purely public perception which in these cases is clearly exceeded. Perception is reality. You cannot be an impartial and objective journalist whilst also wanting to publically comment and provide opinion pieces on the same issues.

Also LOL at the feeble attempt to link this me supporting Murdoch media.

That’s the exact problem, the ABC should not be and is specifically legislated to not be like the commerical stations. One of the specific points highlighted in the SMH article I linked originally.

You keep on forgetting to add “In my opinion” – for that’s all it is, chrwy14.
Grant gets tasked to write opinion pieces – which he does.
He also was (is) contracted to anchor discussion programs like Q and A, which in my opinion, he does objectively.
Consequently, in my opinion, there is no demonstrated incompatibility as I see he is able to bridge both roles.
You don’t think so? Fine you are entitled to share your opinion but not insist others agree with you.

Of course you think he acts impartially, you agree with him. The clear projection from your intstant attempt to link those who disagree as necessarily supporting the Murdoch media provides a great example of your thoughts on what “impartiality” looks like.

Also ironic that you ignored the part of my point highlighting that even if he truly could act impartially (which he clearly doesnt), the public perception of that would be factually cruelled by the constant presentation of his strong and one sided opinions. That is reality.

“Of course you think he acts impartially, you agree with him.”
… and you don’t agree with him, so you don’t think he qacts impartially.
Helloooooo, kettle!
“the public perception” – you mean those of the conservative persuasion who see things the way you do.

“… and you don’t agree with him, so you don’t think he qacts impartially.
Helloooooo, kettle!”

No, I’m simply able to read and watch the way he acts, directly involving his own opinions/thoughts into news/shows where he is meant to be filling an objective role, it actually has nothing to do with whether I agree with him or not.

““the public perception” – you mean those of the conservative persuasion who see things the way you do.”

No, not in the slightest and as I’m not of the conservative persuasion, I’m not sure why you think they’d see things as I do.

There are simple psychological factors involved that you can’t possibly pretend don’t exist. A public figure who provides a strong and unequivocal positions on issues will always be perceived to be unable to discuss that same issue objectively elsewhere. It’s also ironic that you’ve highlighted the same issue in the repeated references to the bias of the “Murdoch media”. Their commentators also clearly blur the line between reporting and opinion, the exact problem I’ve discussed above.

“No, I’m simply able to read and watch the way he acts …”
And you form an opinion based on what you see and read. I don’t deny that on indigenous matters, Grant is very vociferous in his opinons. However, on general matters on Q&A I think (you are free to disagree) he has a balanced approach trying to give all panelists the right to their say. Does he challenge them (both sides)? Yes – and I don’t see it as an issue … you do – OK so what? Other than the ‘dorothy dixer’ type interviews that are conducted, I think most journalists will challenge the interviewee – it’s their job.

“A public figure who provides a strong and unequivocal positions on issues will always be perceived to be unable to discuss that same issue objectively elsewhere”
Perception often overrides realiity … it doesn’t make it fact.

You seem to have forgotten, that Grant was invited to participate in the (now infamous) panel discussion as a Wiradjuri man – not as an ABC journalist. And that their were a number of other participants, including pro-monarchy MP Julian Leeser, yet Grant is being singled out as if he were the instigator/moderator of the panel.

Oh, and as for my ‘repeated references to the bias of the “Murdoch media”’ – I mentioned it and Sky News once in this thread. Though I acknowledge your comment that they clearly blur the line between reporting and opinion.

“Perception often overrides realiity … it doesn’t make it fact.”

As above, perception is reality. We are dealing with human beings, their reactions are often not logical or well reasoned. Your statement finally accepts the point I’ve raised.

“You seem to have forgotten, that Grant was invited to participate in the (now infamous) panel discussion as a Wiradjuri man – not as an ABC journalist. “

Exactly my point. I’ve repeatedly said that the ABC is to blame for allowing it to occur and actively encouraging the blurring of the lines between reporting and opinion. This isn’t a one off, its a regular part of their product, which explains some of the reaction. How is that “forgetting” anything when it was specifically part of my original point, that the ABC holds blame?

“Oh, and as for my ‘repeated references to the bias of the “Murdoch media”’ – I mentioned it and Sky News once in this thread.

Comment from Justsaying to Grumpy Grandpa below:

“you’ve actually been watching too much Sky news or over dosing on Ray Hadley’s waffle.”

Although I was also referencing previous threads where the same argument has been used in an attempt to discredit also.

“ Exactly my point. I’ve repeatedly said that the ABC is to blame for allowing it to occur …”
As you’ve no doubt seen, the actual (not perceived) arbiter, the ABC Omudsman has “cleared the broadcaster of breaching editorial standards during its coverage of the King’s coronation”. So forgive me if I ignore your protestations to the contrary.
And nice out of context use of my comment to Grumpy Grandpa. But I guess in your mind it supports your narrative – though my intention was to highlight where the poster had got the impression that the ABC’s coverage was anti-monarchist.

Where exactly did I suggest the ABC breached it’s specific guidelines in relation to that one particular show?

Oh, that right I didn’t.

“And nice out of context use of my comment to Grumpy Grandpa”

How is it out of context?

You repeatedly (not just here) bring up and accuse others of slavishly following right wing news sources as a substitute for an argument. Your obvious intention is to discredit other people by pigeonholing them as followers of a biased news source. In your “narrative”, it allows you to dismiss the actual points made rather than engaging with them.

“You repeatedly (not just here) bring up and accuse others of slavishly following right wing news sources as a substitute for an argument.”
Perhaps you can refresh my memory of my ‘repeatedly’ doing this … oh and please try this time to represent it in context.

TruthinMedia7:56 am 24 May 23

The major point you have omitted here is that many people just wanted to watch the spectacle (reporting if you like) and not listen to an opinion piece which is why I watched the coronation on a commercial channel. I can’t wait until we are a republic but it was interesting to watch history playing out and as a retired military officer the sheer size and precision of the accompanying parade was incredible. And, if I am interested in hearing an opinion (which I am often) with the news I want it to be balanced and without histrionics. BTW – I’m a white senior and have been abused about the colour of my skin (now often in the media) and my religion has been mocked (again often in the media) and my age (boomer insults in the media) but that is apparently not noteworthy.

Suck it up buttercup. Grant has scored numerous gigs on commercial TV as well as “our” ABC. Hardly a shrinking violet not having his voice heard

Capital Retro8:31 am 24 May 23

Well, someone had to replace Ray Martin.

Right, FP, so because people like you don’t like his opinion, it’s ok to racially abuse him?

Well JS, If I get called a coloniser by people like Stan Grant, is that OK with you?

“Coloniser: a country that sends settlers to a place and establishes political control over it.”
Ummm – is that not exactly what our Brisitsh ancestors did, Fp? What exactly do you have a problem with?
Now, let’s hear your justification for the racial abuse he has had directed at him.

Did you even read that definition of coloniser?

“A country that sends…?”

“Our British ancestors did?”

I don’t agree with Futureproof’s comparison but none of us today are colonisers and most of us have far wider ancestry than simply being lumped into one homogenous group.

I also thought we got to pick which ancestral group we identify with rather than it being thrust upon us? Hmm.

Actually chewy14, I not only read the definition but also Futureproof’s original comment – “If I get called a coloniser” … so I assumed he was acknowledging his Briitsh ancestry. I may be wrong – you’ll need to check with him.

Capital Retro5:08 pm 24 May 23

Stan Grant should be thankful that the Spanish “colonisers” didn’t get here first.

So you are saying Futureproof is a country now? Interesting perspective. Weirdly incorrect though.

I also have no idea how you have extrapolated Futureproof’s hypothetical into an acknowledgement of ancestry. Might start calling you Robin Hood, so long is that bow drawn.

Yawn … about the only thing of relevance to this thread you’ve written is “I don’t agree with Futureproof’s comparison”

LOL, unable to back up your ridiculous assertions, time to back away sniping rather than simply admit how silly and incorrect you were.

Fair enough.

JS, so it doesn’t get overheated, Yes, no one should be racially vilified. My original comment was about Grant getting gigs as a journo on multiple networks. Yes, people make shocking racial comments on social media ( I don’t have any – this is my only form of commentary), but Grant has no problem getting employment, so back to my original comment – he has a voice and expresses it often. My ancestors were convicts and had no choice in settling here, so not invaders by any means. Off to the next story where we can spar

Cool we are in agreement that no-one should be racially vilified, Fp. Until next we meet on the ‘battle field’ …

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