Iran’s news agency admitted this week to mistakenly taking a story from the Onion claiming most white rural Americans like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad more than U.S. President Barack Obama as fact, although it didn’t back away from the satirical website’s premise.
"Unfortunately an incorrect item was released on our website on Friday which included a fake opinion poll on popularity rate of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and US President Barack Obama,” the unnamed editor-in-chief of the Fars News Agency in Iran said in a statement Sunday published on its website. “The news item was extracted from the Satirical Magazine, The Onion, by mistake and it was taken down from our outlook in less [than] two hours. We offer our formal apologies for that mistake.”
Fars said it “makes every effort to ensure the accuracies of its reports, however occasionally mistakes do happen.”
The state-run media outlet lifted an Onion story saying a Gallup poll found 77 percent of rural white Americans would prefer going to a baseball game or having a beer with Ahmadinejad than Obama.
The Onion piece also cited Gallup as finding that 60 percent of rural white voters “said they at least respected that Ahmadinejad doesn’t try to hide the fact that he’s Muslim.”
While Fars admitted to its goof, the news agency contended Ahmadinejad would win a popularity contest over Obama if a real survey were taken.
"Although it does not justify our mistake, we do believe that if a free opinion poll is conducted in the US, a majority of Americans would prefer anyone outside the US political system to President Barack Obama and American statesmen," Fars said in the statement.
As if to defend itself from its goof, Fars went on to list a number of media outlets that were duped by Onion stories, including the New York Times, Beijing Evening News, CNN and the BBC.