Waleed Aly’s reportedly deleted interview with former Collingwood defender Heritier Lumumba will be a ‘permanent mark’ on his and Channel 10’s integrity, a friend of Lumumba says.
Aamer Rahman, a close friend and vocal supporter of Lumumba on social media, says the interview with Lumumba on The Project in 2017, when the former AFL player was questioned about his claims of a culture of racist jokes at Collingwood, would be a mark on the careers of not just Aly, but fellow hosts Peter Heliar and Carrie Bickmore.
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Lumumba made a variety of claims in his interview with Aly, crucially describing how he was given the nickname ‘chimp’ and about how he was ‘ostracised internally’ after speaking out against then club president Eddie McGuire following his ‘King Kong’ slur directed at Adam Goodes.
The recent release of the ‘Do Better’ report, which was commissioned by Collingwood to examine whether a culture of racism had permeated the club, found the Magpies guilty of ‘systemic racism’ and added that responses to racist incidents had been ‘at best ineffective, or at worst exacerbated the impact of the racist incidents’.
In the wake of the report’s release, which was widely seen to have vindicated Lumumba, The Project’s 2017 interview with the former footballer was deleted from Channel 10’s social media platforms.
Waleed Aly asked us to forgive Sonia Kruger when she said Muslims should be banned from Australia, but can’t find the energy to apologise to Heritier Lumumba for treating him like a liar when he said he was a victim of racism.
— Aamer Rahman (@aamer_rahman) February 3, 2021
In an interview with news.com.au Rahman said the move to remove the interview bore a resemblance to Collingwood’s attempts to airbrush over deeper issues at the club and only ‘made it worse’.
“Unfortunately I think The Project’s refusal to acknowledge the role they played in discrediting Lumumba will be a permanent mark on the program and the careers of its hosts,” he said.
“I’m not sure how they can credibly cover stories about racism and discrimination after this.
“It demonstrates a refusal to acknowledge a mistake and instead a desire to just block criticism.
“Not so different to what the Collingwood Football Club is currently doing, actually.”
Channel 10 host apologises over Lumumba interview
After the interview aired in 2017, fellow Project host and Collingwood fan Peter Helliar appeared to question the authenticity of Lumumba’s allegations, saying: “It would be really helpful if we heard more detail, especially with the nickname”.
Helliar also said Lumumba was “smearing an entire club”, comments which the comedian has since apologised for.
— Peter Helliar (@pjhelliar) February 1, 2021
Aly has also come under fire after he too appeared to be sceptical of Lumumba’s claims, however the Project host has not apologised.
But in a fresh twist, Huffington Post Australia reported on Friday that video of the Lumumba interview has now been taken off the Channel 10 website and social media channels.
The Daily Telegraph also pointed out: “The clip mysteriously disappeared from the broadcaster’s online platforms last week after Aly was accused of hypocrisy after openly doubting Lumumba’s claims of racism during a TV interview.”
Discussing the furore on ABC program Offsiders, renowned cricket journalist Gideon Haigh was critical of the Project hosts.
“Was it ever seriously so difficult to believe Lumumba?” Haigh asked.
“It seems to me the journalists bought readily into the club’s campaign to discredit him because of their need for access, because of their general conformity and frankly their whiteness.”
With Yahoo Sport Australia/Sam Goodwin
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