CNN put words in the mouth of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – mistranslating a quote to make it sound like he actually believes the Holocaust took place, according to state-run Iranian media.
The Fars News network, a semi-official news agency with ties to the country’s Revolutionary Guard, denied that Rouhani ever referred to the Holocaust by name, and accused CNN of “fabricating,” and making his statements appear more moderate in his interview with Christiane Amanpour, which aired on the network Wednesday.
“CNN officials seem to be escaping their responsibility of informing the public honestly,” Fars News wrote on their English site. “During the interview, the CNN aired an English translation of President Rouhani's remarks which was totally inaccurate and untrustworthy, and in some parts contained sentences which were not at all uttered by the president.”
According to the CNN translation, Rouhani responded to Amanpour’s question of whether the Holocaust took place with: “I am not a historian, and that when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust it is the historians that should reflect on it. But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis committed toward the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, was reprehensible and condemnable as far as we are concerned.”
Hours later, Fars News denied that the Iranian president used the term “Holocaust,” instead referring to it as “historical events.” He also did not use the term “reprehensible,” according to Fars News.
The Iranian news agency also reported that CNN added in sentences that Rouhani did not say at all including, “Whatever criminality they committed against the Jews, we condemn, the taking of human life is contemptible … but taking the human life is something our religion rejects but this doesn’t mean that, on the other hand, you can say Nazis committed crime against a group now therefore, they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it. This too is an act that should be condemned. There should be an even-handed discussion.”
CNN defended the translation, saying the translator who worked on the interview was supplied by the Iranian government. The network denied any mistranslations of the interview and then followed up by posting the entirety of the hour-long interview on its website.
Fars News now says CNN and Amanpour should “account for the fabrication” and for “untrustworthy and misleading coverage,” particularly “considering that Amanpour [was] raised in Iran and knows the Persian language very well,” she should have listened to the actual interview instead of “blaming the Iran-chosen translator.”
Amanpour’s own CNN website seems to indicate that she was enthused to get a positive reaction from Rouhani regarding the Holocaust. Headlines on the site included, “Iran’s new president: Yes, the Holocaust happened,” and “Why Rouhani may be different.”
Amanpour also said Rouhani admitted to her that the Supreme Leader gave him authority to negotiate the country’s nuclear file and to strike a deal with the U.S.
Bill Clinton was interviewed by CNN’s Piers Morgan an hour before Amanpour and said in response, “It’s a crazy world we are living in if admitting the Holocaust happened qualifies one as moderate.”