August 2013: The Worst Video Media Disaster

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on August 30, 2013 – 12:50 am

It’s not uncommon for politicians to mangle a fact or two.

But during an interview earlier this month, Stephanie Banister, a 27-year-old Australian running for a seat in parliament on the fringe One Nation ticket, took fact-mangling to a new extreme.

Under normal circumstances, a candidate who was unable to name her opponents would be subject to ridicule. But that moment was almost entirely obscured by other, much larger gaffes and misstatements, which included these:

“I don’t oppose Islam as a country.” (Islam isn’t a country.)

“Less than two percent of Australians follow Haram.” (She likely means the Koran.)

“Jews…have their own religion, which follows Jesus Christ.” (I must have missed that week in Hebrew School.)

“I believe the national disability scheme is working at the moment.” (The reporter notes it doesn’t begin until 2016.)

After the interview went viral and subjected Ms. Banister to international ridicule, she complained about the manner in which her interview was edited. According to The Age:

“Ms Banister told Fairfax Media she felt she had been misrepresented and had corrected herself many times but it had been cut from the interview.

‘Unfortunately, they’ve completely twisted all my words and made me out to be a stand-up criminal and a stupid moron,’ she said.

She said she knew Islam was not a country and meant to say ‘Islamic countries’”.

Assuming that’s true, it still doesn’t explain her other gaffes. No one made her say that Jews followed Jesus Christ or mislabel Islam’s central religious text. Based on her seemingly evident lack of knowledge in multiple places, I’m skeptical that she corrected each of the errors during her interview.

Even if she did, her stunning number of inaccurate statements were revelatory and arguably worthy of being aired.

How big of a problem did this interview become for Ms. Banister? Shortly after this interview aired, she dropped out of the race.

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  • About Mr. Media Training

    The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media.

    Brad Phillips is the Founder and Managing Editor of the Mr. Media Training Blog. He is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC and DC.

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    Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.

    Brad tweets at @MrMediaTraining.

    Christina Mozaffari is the Senior Writer for the Mr. Media Training Blog. She is the Washington, D.C. vice president for Phillips Media Relations.

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    Before joining Phillips Media Relations in 2011, Christina worked as a journalist with NBC News, where she produced stories for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC Nightly News, and The Today Show.

    Christina tweets at @PMRChristina.

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