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Americans Do Not Prefer Ahmadinejad: Iranian News Agency Publishes Story From The Onion As News
September 28, 2012
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A government-affiliated news agency in Iran just published a story with this headline: "Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad to Obama."

Now, not everyone in the U.S. is happy with the job President Obama is doing. But there's no way Americans would "prefer" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to their president, let alone the "77 per cent" cited in the article.

In fact, it sounds like a headline from satirical newspaper The Onion.

Well, that's because it is.


The Fars news agency (FNA) picked up the story, which appeared on the Onion's website three days ago, and copied it word-for-word.

FNA calls itself "Iran's leading independent news agency," but according to the BBC, the agency is affiliated with the powerful Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

And they may have a plagiarism problem: FNA did not credit the Onion as their source.

In the article, an invented West Virginia resident says the Iranian leader "takes national defense seriously, and he'd never let some gay protestors tell him how to run his country like Obama does."

The article ends with the (clearly satirical, no?) sentence, "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."

It seems like someone at FNA has figured it out now: the article has already been removed from the Fars website.

This isn't the first time major media outlets have reported Onion articles as real.

In 2004, the Beijing Evening News, which is run by the Chinese state, reported that the U.S. Congress was threatening to move out of Washington unless someone built them a new Capitol building.

And in 2009, two Bangladeshi newspapers published articles claiming the moon landings were faked. Source? The Onion. The papers later apologized.

Of course, it's not just publications that fall for some of the Onion's stories. For a selection of Facebook comments from individuals who aren't in on the joke, visit LiterallyUnbelievable.org.

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