Oh, this is just too good. In short: after Fox News reported the juicy post-election charge, attributed to anonymous McCain advisers, that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent and not a country, MSNBC’s David Shuster reported that the source had come forward: McCain adviser Martin Eisenstadt, who claimed responsibility on his own blog.
However, the New York Times reports, there is no McCain adviser Martin Eisenstadt. He, his blog, his YouTube videos (including “McCain Advisor Denies McCain / Michelle Malkin Tryst”) and his think tank (“The Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy”) were the inventions of hoaxsters.
(Just to be clear: “Eisenstadt” hoaxed MSNBC by pretending to have been Carl Cameron’s anonymous source—he didn’t hoax Fox News itself. As far as I know!)
Here’s where you expect the “But it gets better” moment. But it gets better! Not only did “Eisenstadt” get MSNBC to bite at his phony credentials, he had earlier in the campaign fooled the L.A. Times, Mother Jones and the New Republic, not to mention numerous blogs and other outlets that picked up the erroneous reports. Further, the Eisenstadt hoax had been caught and outed before Shuster cited his claim.
The New York Times spoke to his purported creators, one of whom argued that “Eisenstadt was no more of a joke than half the bloggers or political commentators on the Internet or television.” The only difference being that Eisenstadt was making factual claims that turned out to be false. On the other hand, taking self-anointed authorities and getting them to offer opinions as experts on cable TV and elsewhere is pretty much standard procedure.
All in all, a pretty revealing prank. Unless the hoax claim itself turns out to be a hoax. In which case let me be the first to say I never believed it in the first place.