This certainly isn’t the first time somebody has mistaken an article from The Onion for fact, and we have a feeling it won’t be the last time either.
But still, this is pretty tough to believe — unlike the article in question which, apparently, was easy to believe. The post cited a (fake) Gallup poll which found that rural white Americans prefer Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Barack Obama. Iran’s Fars News Agency went not only went with it, but apparently plagiarized the story — publishing a thinly rewritten version of the Onion article without referencing or crediting the original source, the New York Times reports.
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The article, which ran with the exact same headline as used by The Onion, has since been taken off Fars’ website. It indicated that the story reflected original reporting conducted in Tehran even though its first sentence matched that of the Onion piece: “According to the results of a Gallup poll released Monday, the overwhelming majority of rural white Americans said they would rather vote for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than U.S. president Barack Obama.” Fars’ post also included the following excerpt with a (made-up) quote from a (made-up) voter:
“He takes national defense seriously, and he’d never let some gay protesters tell him how to run his country like Obama does.” According to the same Gallup poll, 60 percent of rural whites said they at least respected that Ahmadinejad doesn’t try to hide the fact that he’s Muslim.
One amendement, however, did include removing the part of the story that referred to Ahmadinejad as “a man who has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and has had numerous political prisoners executed.” So, you know, there’s that.
The article lived briefly on Fars’ English-language homepage. By Friday afternoon, the agency, controlled by Iran’s government, had pulled it down, CBS News reports. The New York Times did save a screenshot of the article here.
In the end, NewsFeed can sympathize — we too have seen a few Onion stories we desperately wish were real.