Iran's FARS News Agency Apologizes for Publishing Fake Poll

News agency cited poll by satirical website The Onion apparently as a credible source, claiming a majority of U.S. rural whites prefer the Iranian president.

Iran’s news agency FARS apologized to its readers on Sunday for publishing a fake poll published by the satirical website The Onion on Friday that found "an overwhelming majority of rural white Americans said they would rather vote for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than U.S. President Barack Obama."

A statement on the FARS website read: “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 U.S. 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 FARS' English Service said.

"FNA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of its reports, however very occasionally mistakes do happen," he said.

"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," he added.

FARS pointed out that it is not the first time a news outlet has been duped by The Onion, providing several examples, among them the New York Times, and the Beijing Evening News, one of the Chinese capital's biggest newspapers.

“On April 25, 2011, The New York Times admitted they made the mistake of treating a fake creation from The Onion as something legitimate.

A week earlier the Times printed an article documenting the history of the squeaky-clean teen magazine Tiger Beat, and included a retrospective of past magazine covers. Unfortunately (or humorously depending on one's perspective), in the collection they also included a parody cover created by The Onion, which featured President Obama.

In 2002, the Beijing Evening News, one of the Chinese capital's biggest newspapers, picked up a story from The Onion that claimed members of Congress were threatening to leave Washington unless the building underwent a makeover that included more bathrooms and a retractable dome.

The statement of apology also mentioned Rep. John Fleming (R. La), who deleted a Facebook post in which he linked to an Onion article about Planned Parenthood that he did not realize was satirical.