Top 10 Most Embarrassing Political Interview Fails
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Noah Levy.
There have been more than a few political interview disasters that ruined careers – and many of them are some of the craziest events caught on camera. Whether it's Richard Nixon being interviewed by David Frost, Jeremy Paxman grilling Michael Howard, or rugby player Mal Meninga getting cold feet and walking out of the studio, these are all examples of bad media interviews. WatchMojo counts down ten of the most embarrassing political interviews ever.
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Script written by Noah Levy.
Top 10 Most Embarrassing Political Interview FAILS
Some people cannot handle pressure. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Political Interview Fails.
For this list, we’re looking at the most awkward, cringe-worthy interviews conducted with politicians where they get into fights with reporters, spew misinformation, or just flat out embarrass themselves.
#10: Jaymes Diaz Forgets the 6 Point Plan (2013)
We’re used to politicians dodging questions about actual policy plans as long as they can, but Australian Liberal Parliament candidate Jaymes Diaz takes it to another level. Diaz was asked in an interview with Network Ten to detail his parties' six-point plan to curb the influx of asylum seekers to the country. Only, he couldn’t remember any of them. Diaz proceeded to provide broad answers instead of his specific points, and was asked to outline his parties' plan several more times before the interview reached its merciful end. The blunder eventually went viral, and Diaz conceded defeat in the Parliamentary election.
#9: Michael Grimm Threatens NY1 Reporter (2014)
New Yorkers are famous for their no nonsense, hard-boiled attitudes, which can come out at some pretty inopportune moments. After President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address, New York Congressman Michael Grimm was talking to New York One political reporter Michael Scotto about the speech. When asked about fraud allegations he was facing, Grimm said he wouldn’t be addressing it and walked off camera. But after it looked like Scotto had wrapped up his piece, Grimm threatened him with violence – only to find the camera was still on. Grimm apologized to Scotto the next day, and in the ultimate bit of poetic irony, was later arrested on those campaign fraud accusations that he fought so hard to dodge.
#8: Michael Howard Grilled By Jeremy Paxman (1997)
British ex-Home Secretary Michael Howard got a masterclass in the power of repetition after this embarrassment. In this iconic 1997 interview on BBC’s Newsnight, anchor Jeremy Paxman grills Howard over and over about whether he forced the hand of Derek Lewis, Director General of Her Majesty’s Prison Service to fire a prison governor. There, Paxman asks Howard a simple question. And when he doesn’t answer it, he asks him again. In total, Paxman asks Howard if he threatened to overrule Lewis twelve times. Howard’s reputation was damaged as a result of the controversy, while Paxman’s questioning lives on in the hallowed halls of British journalism.
#7: Adam Boulton vs Alastair Campbell (2010)
Following the 2010 United Kingdom General Election, the newly elected Conservative party was trying to craft a deal with the Liberal Democrat party to form a coalition government. It was creating some tensions, as seen in this interview featuring Sky News editor Adam Boulton and journlist Alistair Campbell. The piece starts off civil, but then devolves into a shouting match between the two men, with Campbell accusing Boulton of a Conservative bias, and Boulton telling Campbell to not tell him what he thinks. The whole thing was like watching a really classy train wreck.
#6: David Frost Interviewing Richard Nixon (1977)
After being the first US President to ever resign from office, Richard Nixon wisely spent a couple of years out of the public eye. But in 1977, the disgraced ex-President returned to open up to the American people in a series of interviews with British reporter David Frost. The interviews featured Frost grilling Nixon on his life, presidency, and of course, his scandals. While Frost was commended for his work, Nixon didn’t come off as well. Just listen to the legendary line where he defended his questionable actions. Nixon may have denied the allegations against him until his death, but these interviews are as much a part of his infamy as the Watergate scandal.
#5: Diane Abbott Walks Off For A Phone Call (2012)
Well this one’s pretty rude. Labour Party MP Diane Abbott found herself in hot water in 2012 when she sent out a Tweet that said “white people love playing divide and rule.” Sky News was able to catch up with the Member of Parliament to ask her what she meant by her potentially divisive Tweet. She gave an explanation and then said she believed the Tweet was being taken out of context… before getting a phone call and walking off camera mid-interview. Sky News later found out Labour Party Head Ed Miliband was very likely on the other end of the call, giving her a very stern talking-to.
#4: Mal Meninga’s 28 Second Career (2001)
People from all walks of life and careers have tried their hand at public office, whether they be businesspeople, doctors, or even actors. But we’ve rarely seen athletes dabble in politics, and Australian Mal Meninga gave us a glimpse as to why. Meninga was a legendary rugby player turned coach, when he decided to take his work in a different direction in 2001. That year, he campaigned as an Independent for the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly, announcing his candidacy in an interview on ABC, only to get cold feet 28 seconds in and walk out of the studio. Guess kicking goals is nothing compared to the stress of having to talk in front of a camera.
#3: Todd Akin’s Legitimate Rape Comments (2012)
We didn’t think this one had to be spelled out. Missouri Congressman Todd Akin proved he fell asleep in Biology when he gave this interview during his campaign for US Senate in 2012. When asked about his views on abortion, he gave an answer that defied all medical logic, saying the bodies of female rape victims had the power to shut out an unwanted pregnancy. He also pissed more than a few people off by trying to classify some rape as “legitimate.” Hmm. Understandably, Akin was blasted by the public and both American political parties for his comments, and it’s believed that they were the reason he lost the election. Akin eventually apologized for the remark, but it still had a lasting effect on his career.
#2: Sarah Palin with Katie Couric (2008)
In 2008, Republican nominee for US President John McCain shocked everyone by choosing unknown, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. The American people were eager to learn more about her, and they got their wish in a series of interviews with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric. But instead of showing everyone why she should be the second most powerful person in America, Palin utterly embarrassed herself in the interviews by coming off as unprepared and unknowledgeable. Some of the “highlights” of the infamous interviews included Palin talking about her home states’ relationship to Russia, and of course, her taste in newspapers. While Couric was showered with praise for her journalism efforts, the McCain-Palin campaign never recovered.
#1: Christopher Young’s Singing Talents (2010)
Local news is great for shining a spotlight on politicians that wouldn’t get exposure anywhere else. In the buildup to the 2010 Providence mayoral election, Rhode Island station WPRI interviewed candidates to give viewers a better idea of who was running for office. One of these candidates happened to be Democrat Christopher Young. While the interview begins with some substantive discussion, Young quickly transitions into something not related to politics, namely his “talent” for writing songs. Young then pulls out a tiny speaker and sings one of his compositions, making a minute and a half feel like eternity. Yeaaaaah, maybe don’t take up a music career.