The original Fars English story, copied directly from The Onion
On Friday, we featured the story of how Iranian media, including Fars News' English-language site, were headlining, "Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad to Obama". The small problem with the breaking news? It was taken from the satirical on-line "newspaper", The Onion.
Today, Fars English's Editor-in-Chief has apologised:
Unfortunately an incorrect item was released on our website on Friday which included a fake opinion poll on popularity rate of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and US President Barack Obama. The news item was extracted from the Satirical Magazine, The Onion, by mistake and it was taken down from our outlook in less two hours.
We offer our formal apologies for that mistake.
FNA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of its reports, however very occasionally mistakes do happen.
It is not quite a full retraction, however. The Editor continues, "Although it does not justify our mistake, we do believe that if a free opinion poll is conducted in the US, a majority of Americans would prefer anyone outside the US political system to President Barack Obama and American statesmen."
The Editor failed to mention that the story was only pulled after Fars' error had been exposed, to a great deal of mirth, by international media. Nor did he note that other Iranian news outlets who posted the item in Persian, such as Mehr, withdrew the article before they could be held up to ridicule.
Instead, the Editor offers a 17-paragraph justification, beginning:
Active and well-known media occasionally make mistakes, and no media is an exception to this rule. Also, it's not the first time a news outlet has been duped by The Onion....
All media, at least those you know like the BBC, CNN, etc., have had many goofs.
The defense that "Other Media Are Terrible, Too" includes items such as this episode from the sport of cricket:
The 'Leg Over' has become a commentary classic since 1991. Commentating on a Test match between England and the West Indies, Test Match Special legends Brian Johnston and Jonathan Agnew were undone by what has been described as the most famous fit of giggles in broadcasting history. Johnston was describing a dismissal in which Ian Botham's inner thigh had brushed his stumps, dislodging a bail. "He just didn't quite get his leg over," Agnew added. Johnston then erupted in snorts, whimpers, sneezes and, finally, uncontrollable laughter. Listeners were similarly afflicted; motorists had to pull on to the hard shoulder to wipe away the tears.