CNN responded to an Iranian state-media accusation that it had “fabricated” president Hassan Rouhani’s conciliatory remarks about the Holocaust, and pointed a finger back at the Iranians.
CNN denied incorrectly translating the Iranian president’s comments, saying that the translator was hired by Iran, not the news network.
In an email to The Algemeiner, a CNN spokesperson said, “The translator was hired by the Iranians and we re-voiced/dubbed exactly as she translated.”
CNN “is going to post the entire 56 minutes to Amanpour.com, complete with the translator’s voice and transcript,” which would dispel any doubts over the accuracy of their reporting, the spokesperson said.
Clips from the Rouhani interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour were posted to the CNN website on Wednesday morning with the headline, “Iran’s New President: Yes, the Holocaust Happened,” ahead of a broadcast of the full interview at 2PM. The CNN scoop had bested an earlier interview at NBC News, where Rouhani, in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, declined to comment on the Holocaust question.
That the Iranian president had actually recognized the Holocaust was particularly newsworthy after his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, insisted during his term that the entire event had been fabricated by Jews.
But in the transcript of the interview posted to the CNN website, while he does mention the words “Jews” and “Nazis,” had it not been for the specific mention of the word “Holocaust,” it could seem as if the Iranian president was circling the question rather than answering Amanpour directly.
Fars, Iran’s state news agency, also seized on that. In a report, the Tehran-based website provided an alternative translation from the Persian, saying that the word “Holocaust” had never actually been mentioned by Rouhani, nor had other conciliatory comments that CNN seized upon as signifying a changing stance of the Iranian regime. Fars said CNN added words to entirely change the meaning of Rouhani’s comments.
In the past, the Fars agency has been caught publishing questionable reports and providing political cover for the country’s leaders, but, even by late Wednesday, when their initial report had been updated and expanded upon, Fars insisted that “the news channel added to or changed parts of his remarks when Christiane Amanpour asked him about the Holocaust.“
The Algemeiner was the first Western newspaper to report Fars’s objection on Wednesday morning, then immediately alerted a CNN executive ahead of the broadcast of the program. The answer to who actually was responsible for the translator wasn’t clarified by the network until much later in the day.