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Iran apologizes for citing Onion spoof Obama poll as fact

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a firm deadline for Iran to halt its nuclear program, using a simple drawing to warn the UN that Iran will soon reach the point of no return in its development of nuclear weapons. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.

An Iranian news agency issued a bizarre apology on Monday for citing a spoof story about President Barack Obama from satirical newspaper, The Onion, as fact.

Fars, the state-backed news source linked to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), admitted mistakenly republishing an article that claimed rural Americans preferred Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Obama.

The spoof article mentioned a supposed opinion poll finding that 77 percent of rural Caucasian voters "would rather go to a baseball game or have a beer with Ahmadinejad, a man who has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and has had numerous political prisoners executed, than spend time with Obama."

Fars reproduced the article on its website on Friday alongside its usual stories about advances in Iranian military technology and condemnation of Israel. The Iranian version omitted The Onion's description of Ahmadinejad as "a man who has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and has had numerous political prisoners executed." Fars appeared to have taken the story down by about 1 p.m. ET on Friday.

In a statement on its website on Monday, Fars acknowledged the error – but also listed a string of blunders by Western media outlets including the New York Times and the BBC.

"All media, at least those you know like the BBC, CNN, etc., have had many goofs," the statement said.

It also said that it still believed the Onion story was true.

"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," it quoted its own un-named editor-in-chief as saying.

Iran news agency cites Onion story as fact

The statement added: "[Fars] makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of its reports, however very occasionally mistakes do happen."

The statement cited an April 2011 error by the New York Times in which it accidentally republished a spoof image from The Onion in an article about teen magazine, Tiger Beat.

It also cited other "embarrassing blunders over the years" by the BBC, reproducing a list -- originally published by the Daily Telegraph – including an incident in which a weather forecaster was caught on-air flipping the bird to a producer.

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