Freelance journalist Charles Davis didn't set out to punk Iran's state-owned Press TV, but that's exactly what happened. It began when Davis wrote a clearly satirical post for Dissident Voice, a "radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice." Davis framed the post as a fake news account with the headline, "EXCLUSIVE: Obama Orders Air Strikes on Guantanamo Bay."
"We hit the jackpot," said one official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. "We killed a whole damn bunch of them there terrorist sons of bitches," the source said, the sound of clinking glasses and celebratory gunfire audible in the background. [...]
The satire was lost on Press TV, which as an English-language network has a studio in Washington where Davis lives. An email from a Press TV representative asked him, "Would we be able to get you on the phone for an interview on this story? i would really appriciate it if you reply back soon and give me your contact number." On his personal blog, Davis recounts what happened next, with an audio recording of the exchange.
Being a bit of an asshole, I of course responded by sending my Google Voice number. About five minutes later I received a call from 'Sarah' in Tehran, who conducted a fact check of my piece consisting of the question: 'Is it credible?' Again, being a bit of an asshole, I assured her my sources were second-to-none and that the credibility of the piece was not in doubt, prompting her to invite me to appear on *LIVE* television in an hour. I naturally accepted.
Davis, believing he would merely call in to the show, sent along a photo of 19th century mustachioed Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, asking it be shown on the screen during the segment. Davis dutifully tweeted his ongoing conversation with Press TV, noting they eventually requested he appear in person.
Iranian state TV just contacted me for an interview about my "Obama orders air strikes on Guantanamo Bay" story. They not do satire in Iran?
The answer is "no", they don't understand satire at Press TV. I'm scheduled to go on *live* in an hour. This could be fun.
Ok, now Press TV wants me to come down to their Washington studio. Screwing with Iranian state television or happy hour? Decisions...
But it was not to be, as Press TV officials apparently "wisened up" and pulled the plug before Davis could retell his story to the Iranian people. What did they run instead when Davis was supposed to go on the air at 9pm Washington time, 5:30am Tehran time? A segment deriding U.S. workplace diversity initiatives as "job bias" and legal discrimination that's making the recession worse. Disability claims by wheelchair-bound workers come under special attack.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.