The Onion strikes again (Updated)

Onion article cited as fact by Iran news agency – US news – Weird news | NBC News.

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.

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  6 comments for “The Onion strikes again (Updated)

  1. alexiskeptic
    September 30, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    Wow. It’d be polite for someone to email the Iranian news agency and advise them that our American sense of humor is not theirs. Now then, who can explain irony to an Iranian audience…?

    • April
      October 10, 2012 at 10:02 AM

      No, we shouldn’t tell them. They might bomb us…

  2. mxyzptlk
    September 30, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Can we call this Irany?

    The same thing happened around the turn of the century (sheesh) when The Onion published a piece about how Congress was threatening to move to Charlotte or Memphis if they didn’t get a retractable roof and more seating. The take-away line was some southern senator saying something like ‘Look at Parliament and the Vatican — venerable institutions, but they can’t pull in any talent.’

    A Chinese news service picked it up and ran the story on a major early-evening news program, something similar to 60 Minutes. Then the LA Times picked up on the Chinese picking up the story, and inquired. The Chinese news service got pretty testy when asked if they checked their sources.

    I keep that Onion piece and the other articles around when I’m teaching composition and want to demonstrate why it’s important to do thorough research.

  3. September 30, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    Oh, I thought is was going to be the “Iranian Science Teachers May Be Enriching Students” report.

  4. Bob
    October 1, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    There may not be any homosexuals in Iran, but there certainly are not any intellectuals.

    • One Eyed Jack
      October 2, 2012 at 7:01 PM

      I understand your sentiment, but your statement is simply not true.

      All countries are comprised of individuals, each trying to get by and make the most out of their situation. Writing off entire countries based on the actions of politicians and the media is wrong.

      I know I don’t want the world to judge me based the “news” churned out by Faux News.

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