A joke by the satirical website The Onion appears to have gotten lost in translation.
An Iranian news agency picked up — as fact — a story from the paper about a supposed Gallup survey showing an overwhelming majority of rural white Americans would rather vote for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than President Barack Obama. But it was made up, like everything in the just-for-laughs newspaper, which is headquartered in Chicago.
The English-language service of Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency republished the story Friday, several days after it appeared in The Onion.
The Iranian version copied the original word-for-word, even including a made-up quote from a fictional West Virginia resident who says he’d rather go to a baseball game with Ahmadinejad because “he takes national defense seriously, and he’d never let some gay protesters tell him how to run his country like Obama does.”
Homosexual acts are punishable by death in Iran, and Ahmadinejad famously said during a 2007 appearance at Columbia University that “in Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.”
The Onion made a joke out of the mistake. Many people fall for parody websites. That should tell us something. The current news is sometimes so absurd that we can no longer tell real from parody.
For more: Poe’s Law and for when this happened to a parody story about me: Editorial: Be a skeptic so you won’t fall for this stuff
UPDATE: (1-Oct-2012) They admit their mistake, sort of…
The unnamed editor went on to argue that the premise of the Onion report — that Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is more popular with white, rural Americans than President Obama — might even be accurate, if fictional. “Although it does not justify our mistake,” he said, “we do believe that if a free opinion poll is conducted in the U.S., a majority of Americans would prefer anyone outside the U.S. political system to President Barack Obama.”
And they didn’t apologize for copying without attribution, either.