Pauline Hanson's Bizarre NRA Press Conference Just Made It All Weirder
She got the NZ Prime Minister's name wrong, repeatedly stumbled on her words, and thanked local radio station hosts.
Those were just some highlights of Pauline Hanson's bizarre press conference, as she accused the Australian media of being "blinded by hate and bias" towards herself and One Nation in the wake of the scandal engulfing her party.
"Good morning," she began, as the press conference kicked off about 2pm, fronting reporters for the first time since the Al Jazeera investigation revealed her party's meetings with the National Rifle Association.
"Today is a day of shame for the Australian media who have been sold a story that is too good to be true, and you took it hook, line and sinker," Hanson said.
"Media across Australia have been blinded by hate and bias towards One Nation and myself, and rushed to report on heavily-edited footage."
Hanson called the Al Jazeera investigation, under the admission of the Qatar government, a "political attack" on her party; took aim at the ABC; stood by staffers Steve Dickson and James Ashby, and declared Martin Bryant was the sole person responsible for the Port Arthur massacre, all the while insisting the comments that have appeared in recent days have been "completely" taken out of context.
She did not take questions, reading from a pre-prepared statement and walking away.
The Al Jazeera investigation captured Hanson's chief of staff James Ashby and the party's leader Steve Dickson on hidden camera appearing to show the pair meeting with the U.S. gun lobby, discussing how a $20 million donation could help the party "own" federal politics.
Hanson said she has never sought donations nor political guidance from the NRA, and that the "ploy" was set up to destroy One Nation and target conservative parties.
She called the scandal a "political attack by Al Jazeera in cooperation with the ABC".
"This is Australia's first cause of severe political interference from a foreign government," she said.
"How much involvement did the ABC have in this illegal covert operation?"
The ABC has already stated it had no input in the making of the documentaries.
Hanson -- variously mistaking NZ PM Jacinda Ardern's name as "Ahern", and calling the NRA the "NRMA" -- was in a combative and angry mood, lashing out at media and Al Jazeera.
She said she declined an offer by Al Jazeera reporter Rodger Muller, who was "working under cover for an Islamist organisation" to speak at an annual congressional dinner in September 2018.
Ashby and Dickson went in her place.
"They were not there to learn how to weaken Australian gun laws as this program has tried to depict," she said.
A second part of Al Jazeera undercover investigation, to be aired on ABC TV, captured Hanson on hidden camera saying she had a "lot of questions" about the Port Arthur massacre.
"Those shots, they were precision shots. Check the number out," Hanson said, as a group of people discuss the shooting.
"I've read a lot and I've read the book on it, Port Arthur. I read a book on it, on Port Arthur. A lot of questions there."
Hanson countered that on Thursday, saying those passages were taken out of context and edited. She did not offer context to explain them, but said she believed in official accounts of the massacre.
"There is no question in my mind, that Martin Bryant was the only person responsible for the murders of 35 innocent lives. My belief stands today that he should have faced the death penalty," she said.
Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Liberal Party would preference One Nation below Labor in the upcoming federal election, after repeatedly insisting his party would not announce preferencing arrangements until nominations close.
Hanson said voters have been "misled" by the major parties, and confirmed Ashby and Dickson would remain in their positions.
"These are two very good men who want nothing but the best for this country and the people of Australia," she said, pointing to her chief of staff's "unquestionable integrity".
"There has been a deliberate and intense effort for years to destroy James Ashby's credibility since he came to work for me," she said.
"He has made some stupid remarks, as we all have, but I worked so closely with this man for years to know his integrity is unquestionable. He will not be given a trial by media."
Featured image: AAP