Onion: Source of Iran News Agency’s `Poll’ Report on Obama, Ahmadinejad

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, waves after speaking during the 65th annual United Nations General Assembly at the UN in New York.

Written by Terry Atlas

Iran’s state-run Fars News Agency reports that some Americans prefer Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to President Barack Obama. Here’s the headline on the FARS  Web site: “Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad to Obama.”

Unfortunately, the editors in Tehran apparently haven’t heard of The Onion, the satirical newspaper that, it turns out, is the source of Fars’ news report. (It does bill itself as “America’s Finest News Source.”)

The Fars story cites “results of a Gallup Poll released Monday” that found an “overwhelming majority of rural white Americans” would rather vote for the Iranian leader than for Obama.

The story cites “West Virginia resident” Dale Swiderski, who, along with 77 percent of rural Caucasian voters, confirmed he would much rather go to a baseball game or have a drink with Ahmadinejad than spend time with Obama.

“He takes national defense seriously, and he’d never let some gay protesters tell him how to run his country like Obama does,” Swiderski is quoted as saying in the Fars story. A quick check on 411.com found four Swiderskis in West Virginia — Don, Frank, John Raymond and Louis Stephen. No Dale.

According to the same Gallup poll in The Onion’s account, 60 percent of rural whites said they at least respected that Ahmadinejad doesn’t try to hide the fact that he’s Muslim, FARS reports.

The Iranian editors should have considered a cardinal rule of journalism: If a story seems too good to be true, it probably is.


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