August 2013: The Worst Video Media Disaster

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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