The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has apologized to journalist Stan Grant, who accused the network of failing to defend him from racist abuse, some of which followed his commentary on the coronation of King Charles III.
Grant, who is one of the country’s most famous newscasters and a former journalist at CNN, will host his last program Monday night before taking an indefinite break, according to both him and the public broadcaster.
Grant hails from the Wiradjuri people of central New South Wales. He had spoken out Friday in an ABC column, detailing his recent experience of racist attacks and accusing his employer of not offering enough support.
Over the weekend, the ABC apologized. In a Sunday memo to staff obtained by CNN, Managing Director David Anderson condemned the “sickening” behavior Grant had been been exposed to, saying the host had “our full support.”
“The ABC is never above scrutiny or criticism,” Anderson said. “However, the nature of the anti-ABC reporting from some commercial media outlets is sustained and vitriolic. This has real-world consequences for ABC presenters and journalists who are personally attacked and vilified.”
Anderson also pledged to conduct a review into how racism has affected its staff and how the broadcaster could better support them. The recommendation for the review came from the Bonner Committee, the network’s main advisory panel on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.
On Monday, ABC staff members stood outside the broadcaster’s offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra to show their support for Grant, holding signs saying “we reject racism.”
While Grant will step away, he has not resigned from the ABC, the network confirmed to CNN.
In his column, Grant accused the network of not doing enough to protect him or speak up for him, calling it “an institutional failure.”
While the veteran journalist said he was no stranger to racist remarks, he described feeling targeted after appearing on an ABC panel for the King Charles’ coronation, during which he discussed Australia’s colonial past.
He said he spoke with respect “for those who support the monarchy, even as I confront the darkness of colonisation and empire.”
That created controversy in Australia, leading to a firestorm in the local media, according to Grant.
“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,” Grant wrote.
“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.”
On Friday, the network’s news chief also spoke out against the treatment of Grant, calling it “abhorrent and unacceptable.”
“Over many months, but particularly in recent days, Stan Grant has been subject to grotesque racist abuse, including threats to his safety. This has become particularly virulent since he appeared as part of the ABC’s coronation coverage,” News Director Justin Stevens said in a statement.
“The ABC stands by him and condemns the attacks directed towards him.”
Grant is the host of Q+A, a prominent weekly current affairs program that allows members of the public to submit questions to panelists or individual newsmakers.
As a member of the Australian Aboriginal community, Grant has been vocal about the country’s record on Indigenous rights.
Last month, he wrote an op-ed for CNN further explaining his stance on the coronation and why he would “not cheer” for it as a Wiradjuri man, while maintaining respect for “those for whom the British royal family matters.”
Grant has also opened up about being “racially mocked or abused” for years, saying he and his family are regularly targeted on social media. Earlier this year, the ABC lodged a complaint with Twitter about the racist comments published about him on its platform.
“Racism is a crime. Racism is violence,” Grant said in his column. “And I have had enough.”
— Hilary Whiteman contributed to this report.