Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 28, 2012

FARS The Farce (Updated)

UPDATE Sep 30, 8:00am

FARS now apologizes: FNA Apologizes for Recent Mistake

TEHRAN (FNA)- We would like to apologize to all our dear viewers for the mistaken release of a fake opinion poll on our website on Friday.

"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," Editor-in-chief of FNA's English Service said.

"We offer our formal apologies for that mistake," he added.

FARS points out that others have also fallen for Onion spoofs. That is right. But listing the errors of others does not excuse yours. It only reenforces the point made below. The Onion is well known because others have fallen for it. And that is why journalists and editors aware of the anglophile culture no longer fall for it. Also FARS simply copied the onion piece without giving a source. That was simply plagiarism and whoever is the person responsible for that should have no role in the news business.

My original post is below:

It seems that either the Iranian English language FARSnews site was hacked, one of their interns decided to sabotage the sites reputation or its staff is really incompetent enough to plagiarize from the satire magazine The Onion:

FARS (16:47 | 2012-09-28):
Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad to Obama

TEHRAN (FNA)- 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 US President Barack Obama.

The Onion (September 24, 2012 | ISSUE 48•39):
Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad To Obama

CHARLESTON, WV—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.
(As that page on the FARS site will likely get removed I preserved two screenshot of the FARS piece.)

A general note to FARS: If you want to communicate in English get yourself some people who are not only well versed in the English language but who also have some cultural competence and know the U.S. and UK from their own experience.

Showing such incompetence makes everyone suspect of the other news you are distributing and only plays into the hands of your country's enemies.

Posted by b on September 28, 2012 at 15:31 UTC | Permalink


The story has already been wiped from Fars. This coming after fabricating an interview with Morsi over the summer implies that it is not a trustworthy source.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Sep 28 2012 17:01 utc | 1

Not to excuse FARS, but institutional press and other outlets have been known to mistake Onion stories and other satires/parodies as fact. Probably at some point the Onion has satirized that by pretending to mistake actual news as satire.

Posted by: Weldon | Sep 28 2012 17:03 utc | 2

Unfortunately some people in other countries know as little about us as we know about them, particularly when it comes to weird behavior like The Onion. IRNA confused Rand Paul with Ron Paul in a front-page piece the other day, so I sent them an email and they took it down.

Regarding favorability of Ahmadinejad vs. Obama, the former IS favored in Arab countries in the Middle East so a Persian is merely (incorrectly) extending that poll finding to the US. A recent Brookings Institute poll found Ahmadinejad at 13% and Obama at 4% favorability. [Which world leader (outside your own country) do you admire most?] Who knows what the finding would be in the U.S.

So I would cut Fars a little slack on incompetence, which after all is a universal quality and not unknown in the U.S. It's malice, beyond incompetence, that is mostly the problem with the U.S. media and that's much worse.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 28 2012 17:06 utc | 3

But the Onion is "America's Finest News Source"!!!

And scarily enough, that might actually be true these days...

Posted by: KenM | Sep 28 2012 17:09 utc | 4

Yes, i agree, we need to take extreme care with our writings and sources...on the other hand: "Al Qaeda Posts 6,000 Armed Men in Sinai and Gaza for Attacking Israel", source DBK. A month ago! Any must wonder the great utility of AQ...So, now is there sufficient excuse for a new zioncursion to Gaza? The suffering gazans can not get a simple needle without the IDF supervision and now 3000 or well, 1000 of heavy suspected terrorist had been posted in Gaza? And perhaps that can give a excuse for an eventual attack to Egipt too?

Posted by: RICKY | Sep 28 2012 17:18 utc | 5

The onion has appended its article: "For more on this story please visit our subsidiary FARS" with a link to a screenshot.

Posted by: b | Sep 28 2012 17:28 utc | 6

Nice cultural example of how one nations absurd joke is anothers plausible story.

Posted by: Alexander | Sep 28 2012 17:33 utc | 7

see Poe's law

"Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing."

Posted by: somebody | Sep 28 2012 17:48 utc | 8


I don't think site was hacked. I have seen similar cases before from Farsnews English version.

Posted by: LOYAL | Sep 28 2012 17:56 utc | 9

It's not without precedent.

A Chinese paper once bit on an Onion piece about Congress demanding a retractable dome

Posted by: ran | Sep 28 2012 18:42 utc | 10

I hope Fars isn't reading duffleblog.

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FL - Airman were shocked last week when the Wing Commander of the 53rd Wing came out of the closet as a heterosexual to a packed auditorium during a commander’s call.

Colonel Andrea Churchill was previously most notable for her distinction as the first-ever female Wing Commander of the electronic warfare-focused wing, based out of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. However, that changed on Friday when Colonel Churchill briefed the Wing about the possibility of a Reduction in Force during Fiscal Year 2013 and began emphasizing the importance of family for maintaining resiliency during tough times. At the end of her inspiring speech, a man and three children unexpectedly walked on stage and embraced Colonel Churchill, who she later identified as her husband and kids to audible gasps and hushed murmurs from the crowd.

“All I can say is… Wow. I totally didn’t see that coming,” one Airman told Duffel Blog reporters, still looking like he’d been punched in the gut.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 28 2012 18:53 utc | 11

The Persian press corps is a little jittery these days.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's top press adviser was taken into custody to begin serving a six-month jail sentence after being convicted of publishing material deemed insulting to the country's supreme leader.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 28 2012 18:55 utc | 12

Since it seems that you have become interested in Fars news, I thought perhaps the following translation of a Q/A session by Fars news would be interesting to you. I personally found it interesting. It is a Q/A with a highly regarded Shiite Marjaa (Grand Ayattollah Behjat) published by Fars news. You can find the original persian text here:

Q: If a person has a request or problem, is it okay for him/her to go to the holly mosque of Jamkaran and prays to the hidden Imam in there?

Grand Ayatollah Behjat: Some righteous people ask the hidden Imam questions and make requests from him and the hidden imam answers them. In the Jamkaran mosque they have even heard the hidden Imam’s voice!
In my dreams I saw the master [referring to Mahdi] whom I had seen before when I was awake. He told me [in the dream]: “Why don’t you visit Jamkaran?!”

Q: Does his holiness himself [ie. Mahdi himself] go to the Jamkaran mosque as well?

Grand Ayatollah Behjat:
A man who frequently goes to Jamkaran told me:“I saw his holiness in Jamkaran. He told me: ‘tell those who love me to pray for me!’ Then all of a sudden he [ie. The hidden Imam] disappeared into thin air! And I don’t mean to say that he walked away and disappeared into crowd; what I mean is that he vanished into thin air all of a sudden!”
Also a seyyed (pirouz_2: ‘seyyeds’ are men who muslims believe that they come from Mohammad’s lineage.) who is not a cleric but does sermons, recently bought a home in the vicinity of the Jamkaran mosque and he says he has seen numerous times his holiness (the hidden Imam) vanish (literally!) into thin air as soon as coming out of Jamkaran mosque.

Q: If a person wishes to see the hidden Imam, what should he do?
Grand Ayatollah Behjat:
Give praise to him and his ancestors (ie. Mohammad and his descendants) often and keep praying for his early arrival as frequently as you can and go to the Jamkaran mosque very often.

Q:Do you have any other comments about the holly mosque of Jamkaran?

Grand Ayatollah Behjat:
We believe that holly places such as the Jamkaran mosque do not need introduction and if any one says that he has gone there and has not seen anything extraordinary in there (pirouz_2: he means if someone goes to Jamkaran and does not see obvious signs of hidden imam or directly see his person) , it is likely that either he has not gone there on pure faith or that he was doubtful and went there to test the claims!

Posted by: pirouz_2 | Sep 28 2012 20:16 utc | 13

@pirouz_2 - it seems religion is a business everywhere on Earth

Posted by: claudio | Sep 28 2012 21:20 utc | 14


Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 28 2012 21:34 utc | 15

one of the reasons the religious establishment was against Ahmadinejad in 2008 was that he had transferred touristic income from religious pilgrimages to the State

Posted by: claudio | Sep 28 2012 21:55 utc | 16

New York Times (NOT satirical): Iran Envoy Is Assaulted by Protesters Near the U.N.

She said the M.E.K. protesters had been with Syrians protesting the government of President Bashar al-Assad. “We suffer from the same pain,” she said. “We were side by side. It wasn’t like they had their own thing and we had our own thing.”

A man who identified himself as Gregory Nelson boasted to The Daily News that he managed to punch Mr. Mehmanparast in the stomach during the melee.

Mr. Nelson, who identified himself as a former member of the Army National Guard, said that he flew to New York from his home in Fayetteville, Ark., to attend the anti-Ahmadinejad protest. After a rally in favor of the M.E.K. in Washington last year, Zaid Jilani and Ali Gharib of the liberal Web site ThinkProgress interviewed several non-Iranians who attended but seemed to know little about the group’s involvement in terrorist attacks. All of them, including three men from Fayetteville, said they had been provided with all-expenses-paid trips to Washington for the event.

Posted by: Frank | Sep 28 2012 22:09 utc | 17

"And scarily enough, that might actually be true these days..." - KenM @4

I agree with you and on certain subjects, I am more likely to trust Pravda than many western newspapers.

Posted by: blowback | Sep 29 2012 2:12 utc | 18

From The Hill...

White House: Obama in 'full agreement' with Netanyahu on Iran

President Obama is in “full agreement” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the need to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, the White House said after the two leaders talked over the phone Friday.

“The two leaders discussed a range of security issues, and the President reaffirmed his and our country’s unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security,” the White House said in a statement describing the call. “The two leaders underscored that they are in full agreement on the shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Separately, Netanyahu met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton following his address to the United Nations on Thursday.

Ain't nothing funny about that...! 8-(

Posted by: CTuttle | Sep 29 2012 3:38 utc | 19

Hatred is on display in New York… again. Sleaze politicians like Rudy “9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11″ Giuliani and Newt Gingrich spoke to a couple hundred former Iranians who look to bring back the good old days of the dictatorial rule of the Shah. They ended their little fascist love fest by chasing Iranian Deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast through the streets of Manhattan screaming at him. Ramin had to rush over to some police officers for help. One of the “protesters” (read as “paid by the National Endowment for Democracy thug”) was actually wearing the old flag of Iran when it was ruled by the brutal dictator, the Shah of Iran.
During the “protest” the head of the terrorist group the MEK spoke via satellite uplink video. The protesters had the nerve to accuse Ramin of being a terrorist while they were standing there applauding the MEK leader during her speech.
The guy who shot this video claims to want to bring secular democracy to Iran. Bullshit. What he wants is the exact same thing that the Cuban exiles want in Miami; a fascist, free-market, privately owned central banking system in Iran headed up by a survivor of the Shah’s family.

Posted by: brian | Sep 29 2012 6:06 utc | 20

All of them, including three men from Fayetteville, said they had been provided with all-expenses-paid trips to Washington for the event.

Posted by: Frank | Sep 28, 2012 6:09:00 PM | 17

rent a mob ...,there are plenty of pliable fools to use as a cover

Posted by: brian | Sep 29 2012 6:19 utc | 21

Were there any arrests at all over the assault, because this was really blatant...

Because if not, they're legitimizing assaults on embassy staff by very obvious proxy forces (in a major western capital, no less), & this obviously has serious further blowback potential, as well as removing the tiniest bit of legitimacy the US might have in their condemnation of attacks on their own embassy personnel in the Middle-East.


In regards to the Onion piece, I am increasingly feeling sympathy for the Fars agency.

Came across this yesterday which looked interesting (which I originally posted over at Penny's), but half-way through this report by a local US TV station, I was genuinely wondering whether it was a piece by the Onion myself...

Domestic Terrorism Arrests Shock Small Community

It seems US anti-terrorism & law enforcement personnel have just stopped a 'major domestic terror attack', this time from right-wing types instead of the usual 'muslim' suspects.

According to the report, over 70 law enforcement personnel took part in the arrests of suspects, who were allegedly planning a major attack on government offices using large amounts of explosives as well as planning gas attacks on population centres using ricin.

Then the narrative starts to break down a bit...

Apparently, 3 suspects in their 60's & 70's ???

The gas attack was supposedly going to be carried out by putting the gas in tanks, & driving really fast down freeways near population centre's ???

They show a few interviews with the locals including the local sheriff, & he is obviously having trouble believing a word of it.

Anyway, the vast US 'anti-terrorism' machine looks like it has turned it's attention to more local potential trouble-makers, but this is bizarre even for that bunch.
Have p*ssed-off crotchety old men complaining on web-sites about the government now become major 'terrorist threats'?

Posted by: KenM | Sep 29 2012 9:19 utc | 22

@Brian 21
What he wants is the exact same thing that the Cuban exiles want in Miami; a fascist, free-market, privately owned central banking system in Iran headed up by a survivor of the Shah’s family.

I agree with you completely in regards to what monarchists (and also greens/reformists) want for Iran. These guys are trying to create the economic system (neoliberal) and the political system (fascism) that you mentioned. In fact the political system you mentioned is the necessary condition and unavoidable result of the neoliberal economy. However, one thing you have left out is the element of 'foreign domination' in Iran. In other words: perhaps the most prominent difference between the current people in power and the monarchists/greens/reformists is NOT the economic system they support, because they both very strongly support the neoliberal agenda. The most prominent difference is that one side (the currently dominant faction in Islamic republic) supports neoliberalism a la china (ie. An independent capitalism) where as the other side (ie. The monarchists/greens/reformists) support neoliberalism a la Mubarak's Egypt (ie. A colonial relationship between Iran and west).
Otherwise if you think the current leadership in Iran is looking for anything other than a brutal capitalism in bed with IMF/WB or if you think that the current leadership actually cares for Palestinians a hell of a lot, then you are terribly mistaken.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Sep 29 2012 16:08 utc | 23

Real life and real news is so bizarre - itself a stewy malodorous cauldron of partial facts or constructed ‘fake’ realities and crazed interpretations - that the Onion has trouble being in-your-face satirical or mocking. The satire sometimes seems more real than what the MSM is touting.

Satire, propaganda, fiction (films, false diaries, etc.), jokes, ponderous think-tank ideology, overflow into each other, the distinctions wash away. (see Weldon at 2.)

That said, if US citizens had a different view of Ahmadinejad with some pithy quotes that went pro-what USers, particularly Dems, believe in, he’d be top of the foreign leader polls. (see Don at 3.)

Posted by: Noirette | Sep 29 2012 16:33 utc | 24

The Onion:
Netanyahu Feeling Like Trip To US To Start World War III Went Pretty Well

Through satire, The Onion can say things that almost no US journalist would dare even try.

Posted by: nobodee | Sep 29 2012 22:05 utc | 25

let the FARS be with you!

Posted by: brian | Sep 30 2012 2:50 utc | 26

Otherwise if you think the current leadership in Iran is looking for anything other than a brutal capitalism in bed with IMF/WB or if you think that the current leadership actually cares for Palestinians a hell of a lot, then you are terribly mistaken.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Sep 29, 2012 12:08:34 PM | 23

i suggest you review President Ahmadinejads speech at the UN

Posted by: brian | Sep 30 2012 2:53 utc | 27

@27 Brian, I'm not having a go at you but I do wish you could appreciate that all of these people, iranian & amerikan are just politicians; what they say is irrelevant, words are cheap. oblamblam got the nobel peace prize mainly cause he had promised to close gitmo, which he didn't do but no one took his prize back.
Similarly Ahmadinejad blathered all sorts of anti-zionist rhetoric, designed to appeal to his base, at the UN, but he hasn't done anything concrete to help palestinians get their country back.
Talk is easy, actually spending resources and political capital doing something, well that is another thing.

Believe amerika has no right to fund resistance to Ahmadinejad, doesn't mean it is necessary to like Ahmadinejad or vote for him. It is the people living in Iran who hafta decide that. At some point maybe they will decide that their pols are all slug faced assholes, if they do we need to work at making sure no one else tries to bend their dissatisfaction into something worse.
That was the issue last time, most Iranians still supported Ahmadinejad and the urban bourgeois who were pissed had been suborned by traitors to Iran.

I watched a doco on the rise of anonymous over the weekend, basically about how disparate dissatisfied young loners formed a group and took on established assholes, from scientology to paypal. They did a heap of work helping Tunisians and Egyptians to keep communicating when the internet had been closed by scared governments. This was before the corporate greedies did the same thing, except the greedies attached big pricetags. Many of the anonymous types gained a rapid political education and now they are more conscious than anyone else of how the egyptian revolution was perverted by another bunch of greedy pols.

We have to really come to grips with a reality that few acknowledge. My enemy's enemy is not my friend. He is still just the enemy of my enemy, if we can work out something mutually beneficial, great, but don't mistake commonality of purpose with commonality of beliefs.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Sep 30 2012 23:37 utc | 29

@Brian 27;
I usually never miss Ahmadinejad's speeches. This one is no exception. So what is it in that speech that you think is relevant to what I have said before?
His rhetoric against Capitalism?
Can you give one example of his economic policies which is not neoliberal?
Under which president has Iran gone through the most substantial pace of privatization?
Which president has had the most ambitious privatization plan of the Iranian banking system
Under which president for the first time Iran's mines (with the exception of oil and gas) have become open to be sold to FOREIGN COMPANIES?
Which government has actually substantially reduced the subsidies in line with the policies dictated by WB?
How has the distribution of income changed under Mr. Ahmadinejad?

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Sep 30 2012 23:46 utc | 30

Good to see: While in NY, Ahmadinejad met with Jewish community leaders. Won't see this mentioned in the western press.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Oct 1 2012 1:41 utc | 31

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