Mongolian TV Network Exposes Media Corruption With Fake Story About McDonalds

Mongol TV went undercover and bribed journalists from the country's major news networks to run a joke story, revealing rampant journalistic corruption and a lack of basic fact-checking.

An investigative news show on Mongol TV planted a false news story last week with all nine of Mongolia's major local media outlets about McDonalds opening a branch in the country. The exercise was undertaken to expose corruption and the rampant practice of paid-for journalism in Mongolia, Mongol TV said.

The appearance of a "Mr. P. Rank," promising McMutton burgers and goats-milk-shakes, in the "official" press release set off no alarms at the media networks, which took between $150 and $700 from an undercover journalist to run the story on their websites, on the front page of three newspapers, and on TV news on three networks, including the local public broadcaster.  

“Soon the first letter our children learn will be ‘M’, Mr. P. Rank says with a golden, shining smile," according to the fake release, which also claimed McDonalds was to be sponsored by Mongolia’s Health Ministry and sold in schools all over the country.

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Nomin Chinbat, head of Mongol TV, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month at the Asian Television Forum (ATF) in Singapore about her plans to carry out the sting, “as a social experiment to raise the issue and let people know how the system works.”

“They won’t check the facts, they’ll just be interested in getting paid to run the story,” said Chinbat.

After Mongol TV unveiled the sting, it invited representatives of the nine duped media organizations to explain their actions, though all reportedly declined.  


Twitter: @GavinJBlair