Fars News Agency, the semi official news agency of the Iranian government, reported on a recent Gallup poll that shows rural white Americans would rather have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the White House than Barack Obama.
The results of the Gallup poll, released Monday, was reported yesterday in Fars. The article quotes West Virginia resident Dale Swiderski as saying he would much rather go to a baseball game or have a drink with Ahmadinejad than with the current president of the United States. Said Swiderski, "I like him."
One reason for Swiderski's preference in the upcoming November election is the fact he feels Ahmadinejad would be better than Obama on the issue of national defense. He was quoted as saying, "He [Ahmadinejad] takes national defense seriously, and he'd never let some gay protesters tell him how to run his country like Obama does."
Fars also reported the other major finding of the Gallup poll. Sixty percent of these rural white Americans respect Ahmadinejad more than Obama. After all, Ahmadinejad never tries to hide the fact he is a Muslim.
Fars did not make this stuff up. They plagiarized it from a well known American source; a publication that bills itself as "America's Finest News Source"—The Onion.
The Onion, a widely read American satirical publication, reported the story on Monday. The article was lifted almost word for word by Fars, without any acknowledgment of the source of the Gallup poll findings.
As the BBC reports, Fars is not the first major foreign news source to be taken in by The Onion's satire. In 2004, the Beijing Evening News reported members of the U.S. Congress were threatening to leave Washington unless a new Capitol building was built. And in 2009, two newspapers in Bangladesh apologized for reporting the admission that the Moon landings were faked. Both stories were taken from The Onion.
After the Fars article appeared, The Onion added the following to the article on their website, together with a link to the Fars article:
"For more on the story: Please visit our Iranian subsidiary organization, Fars."