CNN Denies Fars News Agency's Claims it Faked part of Iran's Rouhani Interv

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Christiane Amanpour interviewing Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. (Credit: CNN, screenshot)

Iran’s Fars News Agency accused CNN of making up some of its interview with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, entertainment news site the Wrap reported.

As evidence, Fars published what it said was an “exact Farsi transcript” of the interview Rouhani conducted with Christiane Amanpour and claimed CNN added information to the interview.  Fars News Agency, which is described the the Washington Post as “semi-official,” wrote Sept. 25, “Exclusive: CNN Fabricates Iranian President’s Remarks about Holocaust.”

“Fars noted that CNN added the word ‘Holocaust’ and also sentences that specifically condemned the Nazi’s treatment of the Jews and the Jews’ treatment of Palestinians in Israel now,” the Wrap explained.

In question is CNN’s reporting that Rouhani weighed in on the Holocaust. According to CNN’s transcript of the interview, Amanpour asked Rouhani directly what his “position on the Holocaust” is. Rouhani responded that “it is the historians that should reflect on it,” but that “any crime…including the crime that the Nazis committed towards the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, is reprehensible and condemnable.”

Fars News Agency claimed that the bolded phrase below was “the product of conceptual, and not precise, translation,” and that the underlined portions were “added or completely altered.” CNN quoted Rouhani as saying:

“So if the Nazis, however criminal they were, we condemn them, whatever criminality they committed against the Jews, we condemn, because genocide, the taking of the human life, is condemnable and it makes no difference whether that life is a Jewish life, a Christian or a Muslim or what.

“But this does not mean that, on the other hand, you can say, well, the Nazis committed crimes against, you know, a certain group, now, therefore, they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it. This, too, is an act that should be condemned”

In response, CNN “posted raw video of the interview with a transcript,” and explained that its original report was just an edited version of the interview, the Wrap added.  CNN defended itself against the accusations, adding that “Rouhani and his people” brought their own translator, according to the Washington Post.

After Fars News Agency’s report, CNN added an editor’s note acknowledging the interview was just an “excerpt” of the interview. In response, Fars said that may “eventually explain the reason for the addition” of information regarding the Holocaust. However, Fars maintained that CNN “totally changed the meaning of the President’s statements” about condemning the Nazi’s “criminality…against the Jews.”

On Twitter, Amanpour defended her reporting and added that CNN posted the “entire video and transcript of my interview with” Rouhani.



Amanpour also questioned the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed on the controversy, “Holocaust Denial in Translation.” The op-ed definitively agreed with Fars News Agency’s claims, writing “The words attributed to Mr. Rouhani [by CNN] are not what he said.”

The Journal wrote that “Rouhani never uttered anything approximating” what CNN said he said about the Holocaust. “Our independent translation of Mr. Rouhani’s comments confirms that Fars, not CNN, got the Farsi right.”

In response, Amanpour tweeted:


Earlier this year, Amanpour was the victim of a fake interview.  Turkish newspaper Takvim published a bogus interview with Amanpour claiming that she “published the war live and biased,” as iMediaEthics wrote at the time. Takvim‘s “interview” with Amanpour noted that “this interview is not real” but claimed that “what you will read here is real.”

iMediaEthics has written a few times about questionable reporting by Fars News Agency. In April, Fars News Agency back-tracked its previous claims that an Iranian scientist invented a time machine. In February, Fars doctored a photo of Michelle Obama from her video appearance at the Oscars to add sleeves and a higher neckline to her dress.

And last year, Fars News Agency apologized after publishing an Onion satire story claiming that a poll found that “rural whites prefer [Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad to [U.S. President Barack] Obama.” However, Fars didn’t apologize or acknowledge that it lifted verbatim without credit from the Onion. Fars also argued that the story sounded real. “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,” Fars wrote.

iMediaEthics has written to CNN for comment and will update with any response.

Hat Tip: Media Bistro’s Morning Newsletter

UPDATE: 10/2/2013: 5:30 PM EST:  Added information

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CNN Denies Fars News Agency’s Claims it Faked part of Iran’s Rouhani Interview

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