Peter Gleeson, a host at Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News, unleashed a false and hateful rant against Yorta Yorta rapper Briggs this week, calling him an “imbecile” who “doesn’t care” about First Nations communities despite his endless activism.
The on-air meltdown happened during a segment on Sky News ― or as Briggs calls it “ALDI Fox News” ― when Gleeson was talking about New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s calls to change the lyrics of Australia’s national anthem, ‘Advance Australia Fair’, to be more inclusive of Indigenous Australians.
Briggs’ year-old video for the ABC’s ‘The Weekly’ ― in which the rapper breaks down, lyric by lyric, why the anthem is problematic and says, “It sucks” ― came up. And Gleeson unloaded his tirade of unsubstantiated waffle.
“Well, Briggs is an idiot,” he said in a segment that aired during NAIDOC Week.
“And the reason Briggs is an idiot is because he’s a polarising figure. He doesn’t care about the anthem. He doesn’t think about or doesn’t care about the domestic violence problems in Indigenous communities. He doesn’t care about the sexual assault problems in Indigenous communities.
“He just wants to get his name up in lights because he’s Briggs the rapper or whoever he is. An absolute imbecile.”
See the video below:
Briggs said Gleeson is a “habitual racist” who can’t seem to get Briggs out of his head.
Gleeson’s personal attack on the rapper has since been fact-checked by multiple social media users and judged wrong.
In the past year, Briggs, who has writing credits on the ABC’s ‘Black Comedy’ and Netflix’s ‘Disenchanted’, has released the anti-racism children’s book ‘Our Home, Our Heartbeat’, dropped multiple new tracks highlighting Indigenous issues and called out questionable behaviour one viral social post at a time ― including Gleeson’s archaic Black Lives Matter column in June where he used the other N-word.
Earlier this week Berejiklian said she supported changing the anthem’s line “We are young and free” to “We are one and free” to acknowledge the country’s 80,000 years of First Nations history and cultures.
“I feel for Indigenous Australians who don’t feel the national anthem reflects them and their history,” she told ABC on Wednesday.
“And I think if we say, ‘We’re one and free’, it acknowledges that we’re not really young as a continent. We’re tens of thousands of years old when it comes to human inhabitants.”
As many have pointed out, “one and free” doesn’t reflect First Nations people correctly either as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make up many nations across Australia and its adjacent islands.
Goreng Goreng artist Rachael Sarra said the NSW premier’s comments were a “performative way to appease” and are “grossly disconnected” from the real issue.
“If we’re serious about this conversation then we need to acknowledge that the whole anthem perpetuates the colonial oppression of our culture and our countries,” she said.
“Simply expressing that we should embed Traditional language into the anthem also raises the question of whether or not we truly understand that we are a nation of nations.”
Briggs pointed out in his 2019 video that every single child in detention in the Northern Territory is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and that Australian Indigenous people are the most incarcerated people on earth. So the word “free” in the ‘Advance Australia Fair’ lyric is debatable as well.
“[Metaphorically] when these things come across my desk, my response is what I give,” Briggs told HuffPost in August.
“If me being upset about our disadvantage and being actively misrepresented in various parts of whatever ... if wanting better for your people is ‘activism’, then I’ll be an activist until I’m dead.”