Xi'an Up Close (西安零距离), an investigative journalism programme which airs on Xi'an TV in China, has become a national laughing stock after airing a report on June 17 about a "mystery mushroom" which was discovered by villagers in a rural part of the city. Residents of the Liucunbu village on the outskirts of the capital of the Shaanxi province say they came across a strange fungi-like object as they hit bedrock while drilling a new well. The perplexed villagers decided to call up their local TV station for help, which sent intrepid reporter Ye Yunfeng to their sleepy little hamlet to get down to the bottom of things.
One villager who was there during the fateful discovery of the unidentified object tells the reporter, "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 neighbour here says he has never seen anything like this before," he adds. Reporter Ye then begins to describe the curious object as the camera pans in on it. "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," she adds. "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. I've done my own research on the internet," says the aforementioned villager. "It's a type of lingzhi mushroom, called the taisui." Without skipping a beat, reporter Ye chimes in with her own research, saying this type of lingzhi is generally found in the Shaanxi region deep underground and is hence rarely seen. "When the Emperor Qin Shi Huang was on the hunt for the secret to longevity," she elucidates, "it is said he discovered this lingzhi was the answer."
Eagle-eyed viewers who saw the report on Sunday immediately identified the mystery mushroom as a double-headed masturbation toy with an artificial vagina on one side and an artificial anus on the other. The next day, the embarrassed TV show issued the following apology. "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!"