Lost in Translation: Iranian News Agency Takes “The Onion” Seriously


The Iranian news agency picked up a story by the Chicago Onion, a satirical newspaper, and published the story as accurate. Fars followed up and repeated the story the next day.

The Onion “report” was a fake Gallup survey showing that an overwhelming majority of rural white Americans would rather vote for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than President Barack Obama.

They picked up a fake quote by a 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.”

According to the same faux 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 Onion editor put out a tongue-in-cheek statement calling Fars a “subsidiary of the Onion” and announced that it has been their Middle Eastern bureau since 1984.

She said jokingly, “The Onion freely shares content with Fars and commends the journalists at Iran’s Finest News Source on their superb reportage”

The Beijing Evening News has the distinction of being the first foreign newspaper duped by The Onion.