It is absolutely clear that the official vote count in the Iranian presidential election is pure fiction. However, it is official and supported by the incumbent president, the supreme leader etc. This poses a problem for reporters who risk "opinions on shape of earth differ" if they follow standard practice. How exactly does one report the demonstrable fact that someone is lying without breaking the rules of Ballance ?
ROBERT F. WORTH and NAZILA FATHI show how. One rule is that if one appears to favor one side in an argument (because the facts are biased against the other) then you give someone on the other side the last word. In advocacy one might present argument against the conclusion one favors, but one doesn't close with such arguments. Therefore in the rare cases in which the truth is so obvious that there is no other way to achieve Ballance, one can close with an implausible denial of the facts. Or, if one really really can't stand to be Ballanced, one can close with a statement from a supporter of the main beneficiary of the lies such as this one.
There might be some manipulation in what the government has done,” said Maliheh Afrouz, 55, a supporter of Mr. Ahmadinejad clad in a black chador. “But the other side is exaggerating, making it seem worse than it really is.
Kevin Drum wonders if maybe they deliberately made the fraud blatant to provoke protest and justify a crackdown. Juan Cole's hypothesis that they didn't prepare fraud at the ministry because either they were sure it wasn't needed or they thought they would be allowed to report the true is more plausible. However the ministry of the Interior does seem to be going out of his way to hint that his ministry is faking data.
Interior Minister Sadegh Mahsouli said Saturday that such a lead was a misimpression based on Mr. Moussavi’s higher levels of support in the capital, and that he had less backing elsewhere.
According to Mahsouli's ministry (same Juan Cole link) Ahmedinejad won Tehran by over 50%.