A Chinese investigative news program Xi'an Up Close became a national laughing stock after a "mysterious mushroom" its investigative reporter featured on the show turned out to be a self-pleasure sex toy.
The villagers in Liucunbu, outside the capital of Shaanxi province, discovered the object while they were digging for a new well on June 17. Nobody in the entire village could tell what it was. Mystified, they reverently preserved it in a bucket of water and watched over it for any signs of life. They called on the most experienced person in the community, an 80-year-old man. The venerable sage said he had never seen anything like that before.
Shanghaiist reports that the perplexed villagers decided to call their local TV station. The station sent the pretty young reporter, Ye Yunfeng, to the village to investigate the story.
According to Shanghaiist, one of the villagers told Yunfeng: "When we dug down to about 80m deep, we fished out this long, fleshy object. It's got a nose and an eye, but we have no idea what it is! Even our 80-year-old neighbor here says he has never seen anything like this before."
Yunfeng then turned to the camera and began describing the mysterious object in detail: "As we can all see, this looks like a type of fungus, on both ends of which you'll find mushroom heads. On this side, you can see what looks like a pair of lips. And on that side, there is a tiny hole which extends all the way back to this side. The object looks very shiny, and it feels really fleshy and meaty too."
The smart reporter and the mystified villagers did not realize that the "fleshy and meaty" object was a masturbation aid designed for male use. Speculations began in earnest and everyone had a clever theory about the mystery mushroom. The villager who spoke to Yunfeng earlier tried to impress his fellows with his research skills. He said:: "I've done my own research on the internet. It's a type of lingzhi mushroom, called the taisui."
Everyone agreed with the man that they had discovered a new type of lingzhi mushroom. Poor Yunfeng also agreed, and striving to outdo the village researcher, she added her bit of research information, saying that lingzhi mushroom thrives in the Shaanxi region deep underground and is therefore only very rarely seen. Then she waxed historical: "When the Emperor Qin Shi Huang was on the hunt for the secret to longevity. It is said he discovered this lingzhi was the answer."
The story went viral in China and Asia, Kotaku.com reports. But more worldwise and experienced people than the 80-year-old village sage and the city girl reporter recognized what the "mushroom" really was. The villagers had unearthed a sex toy.
Shanghaiist reports that viewers explained that the "mushroom" was "a double-headed masturbation toy" and the holes in the "fleshy and meaty" object were not for fungal reproduction but artificial versions of those for similar human functions.
The video went massively viral with millions of views across multiple video-sharing sites, Shanghaiist reports. The next day, embarrassed producers of the show issued an awkward correction in which they artlessly attempted shifting the blame for the gaffe on the young reporter, saying that the error was because she was "still very young and unwise to the ways of the world."
The apology posted on the TV show's Sina Weibo profile read:
An open letter to all netizens and viewers: Hi everyone, one of our news reports which aired last night has made everyone laugh. This incident has been widely followed, shared and commented on. As our reporter was still very young and unwise to the ways of the world, this report has brought great inconvenience to everyone. We'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for your criticism and correction. Please forgive our oversight!Kotaku.com notes that it was unfair blaming the error on Yunfeng "because the reporter most certainly had a crew, an editor, a producer and others involved in the story."