Q&A host Stan Grant has hit back at Ben Fordham’s claims he lost control of his show after he kicked out a pro-Russian Melbourne university student from his audience.
Fordham had taken issue with the presenter after he booted Sasha Gillies-Lekakis from the ABC studio during a heated Q&A episode on Thursday.
Gillies-Lekakis said Russia was under threat from Ukrainian ‘Nazis’ when Grant told him to leave 20 minutes later because he would not tolerate advocacy of violence.
Fordham accused Grant of losing control of the show and questioned if he made the call because he was pressured by producers while presenting on 2GB on Friday.
Grant clarified he did not need producers to make big decisions for him as he returned fire to the criticism three days later on Monday.
‘What am I – 12?’ he told The Australian’s Media Diary. ‘I put my journalistic career up against his (Fordham’s) any day.
Q&A host Stan Grant has hit back at Ben Fordham’s claims he lost control of his show after he kicked out a pro-Russian Melbourne university student from the audience
Fordham had taken issue with the presenter after he booted Sasha Gillie-Lekakis from the ABC studio during an episode on Thursday
‘Whenever I’ve met Ben Fordham, he’s always been polite and friendly. I don’t know whether to take that at face value, but it’s disappointing.’
Grant defended his decision to kick the university student out of the studio and said it was the right call considering the current Russian invasion in the Ukraine.
‘It troubled me that someone in an ABC studio was saying that they supported an illegal invasion where people were dying,’ he said.
‘I wanted to have a proper discussion about the points raised, but it troubled me. We all walk out of there safe and sound, but people in Ukraine are not. You’ve got people dying right now.’
It came after Fordham accused Grant of double standards pointing out the program hosted a debate between pro-Palestinian and Israelis about their major conflict.
‘Obviously we don’t support what Russia is doing, but I don’t think that this guy was advocating violence,’ Fordham said.
‘He’s a Russian living in Australia and he’s standing up for his own country. This is a show that’s all about different views and a robust debate.
‘They had a robust debate between supporters of Israel or Palestine, or when discussing climate change or coronavirus.’
On the night, Gillies-Lekakis said: ‘As someone who comes from the Russian community in Australia, I’ve been pretty outraged by the narrative created by the media depicting Ukraine as ‘the good guy’ and Russia as the ‘bad guy’.’
‘Believe it or not, there are a lot of Russians here and around the world who support what Putin is doing in Ukraine, myself included.’
His controversial take on the invasion sparked a fierce debate on the panel and ultimately saw him booted from the show, prompting raucous applause.
Grant addressed Gillies-Lekakis later in the show and repeatedly asked him to leave, explaining the advocacy of violence would not be tolerated.
Sasha Gillies-Lekakis (pictured) was asked to leave the Q&A studio after he said he supported what Putin was doing in Ukraine and claimed there were other like-minded Australians
Fordham also accused Grant of double standards after the program hosted a debate between pro-Palestinian and Israelis about their major conflict
‘Something has been bothering me, I have to admit, since we had Sasha’s question earlier about Russia, and it’s been playing on my mind,’ the host said.
‘Sasha, people here have been talking about family who are suffering and people who are dying. I understand you wanted to ask your question about – is there some reasoning for this?
As audience members took the opportunity to give their two cents, the host then shut down any discussion and pointed his arm towards the door.
‘Can I just say – I’m just not comfortable with you being here. Could you please leave? Sasha, I’m sorry. You can ask a question, but we cannot advocate violence. I should have asked you to leave then.’
However, not all Aussies agreed with Grant’s decision to boot the student from the audience, with dozens taking to social media to debate the contentious moment.
However, not all Aussies agreed with Grant’s decision to boot the student from the audience, with dozens taking to social media to debate the contentious moment
Tasmanian Labor MP Brian Mitchell weighed in on the intense debate on Twitter.
‘Get absolutely f*d with this clickbait garbage. Putin invaded a peaceful Democratic neighbour that posed no threat to Russia. His forces have murdered civilians, including children. There are not two sides to this story,’ he said.
‘Well done Stan. Very proud of what you just did live,’ another user agreed.
‘What happened to our free speech on the ABC? Cut off his question, didn’t answer his question, and kicked him out,’ another tweeted.
‘I don’t agree with his view and agree that his opinion may be compromised on bias information, but the only way people can resolve conflict is with open conversation.’
‘Should have let this guy finish his question in full without cutting him off. Thought the idea of a Q&A was to hear different points of view even if you disagree with them,’ another said.
‘He did ask his question earlier in the show. His answer was truly offensive,’ one woman replied.
‘He asked his question and then started spewing bulls*** stats/propaganda, it can be cut off when it’s no longer a question,’ a second agreed.
Q&A host Stan Grant (pictured) asked the university student to leave the live audience after the panel discussed his statement and said ‘we can’t have people advocating violence’