Putin with tiger 1
© France 2
Screenshot of a France 2 broadcast on world leaders' holiday habits
If you're a media professional writing hit-pieces about Russia and your latest bombshell piece turned out to be fake news, don't worry, it can still win an award in France. This story about Vladimir Putin on a 'tiger hunt' did.

In a cheeky Bobards d'Or ('Golden Hoax') ceremony in Paris, organized by the Polemia Foundation think tank, some of the most ridiculous fake news stories of the past years were awarded fitting trophies: golden statuettes modeled after the Oscars but made in the image of the character synonymous with being caught in a lie: Pinocchio.

Bobards d'Or

The 'Bobards d'Or' event announcement
The 'bobards' were awarded in three categories: the 'traditional hoax' for internal French stories, the 'international hoax' for stories about foreign affairs, the 'Yellow Vest hoax' - for the way the media treated the eponymous protest. One of the protesters, Fiorina Lignier, who had lost an eye to a police gas grenade during a demonstration, was even invited as one of the judges.

Out of 15 initial candidates narrowed down by an online vote, the judges ultimately picked three. The international 'golden hoax' winner, in line with the spirit of the times, was a story connected to Russia - though in this particular case, Russia wasn't accused of fabricating fake news, but vindicated as its victim.

The golden Pinocchio went to France 2 for a story it had released in August 2018 about world leaders' extravagant holidaying habits and which claimed that Putin had gone on a "tiger hunt". It even provided pictures to prove the point - Putin with his hand on a motionless tiger sprawled on the forest floor, as though boasting over a prized kill.

Putin with tiger 2
© Sputnik / Aleksey Druzhinin
Vladimir Putin NOT hunting a tiger
Except the truth wasn't what the pictures were showing. The images were taken from a 2008 report on a national tiger preservation program and Putin was doing the exact opposite of killing an endangered species. In a gesture of support for the preservation effort, he was putting a GPS tracking collar on the animal.

Called out by RT France, the outlet quickly took down the story from its website, though not before a screenshot could be taken.

France 2 fake news story
It wasn't fake news, the channel's press service hurried to protest, but an "inadvertent mistake."


That explanation was thoroughly mocked by Internet commenters, and former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon called France 2's fake story "rude anti-Russian propaganda stirred up by a group of counterfeiters."

The 'classic hoax' award went to political scientist Clement Viktorovitch for downplaying the numbers of migrants arriving in France in an October interview with C News. The 'Yellow Vest hoax' was awarded to media historian Thomas Boulouque, who claimed the protest was infiltrated by far-right activists, because it was flying a royalist flag - which turned out, in fact, to be the flag of the French region of Picardy.