NPR knows it. NBC knows it. Even Iran’s Fars News Agency knows it.
CNN seriously mistranslated its interview with new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, and it’s turning into a scandal that won’t go away.
Nor should it go away. The network’s refusal to fix the error is an inexplicable and serious violation of journalistic ethics.
At issue is whether Rouhani used the word Holocaust in his interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and, in doing so, acknowledged the Nazi genocide. CNN says he did, and its translation allowed it to make the dramatic announcement in a headline late last month, “Iran’s new president: Yes, the Holocaust happened.”
Except Rouhani never did use the “H” word, or its Farsi equivalent. And he certainly did not acknowledge Hitler’s systematic murder of six million Jews. He referred only to generic Nazi “crimes” of questionable severity — and did so with such ambivalence that analyses in The New Republic and the Daily Beast convincingly argued that Rouhani was in fact engaged in old-fashioned Holocaust denial, albeit a more subtle version than that practiced by his outspoken predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.