palin Africa reports result of elaborate internet hoax

On November 6, 2008, reports began circulating online and on TV that Sarah Palin did not know (or could not grasp the idea) that Africa was a continent and not a country. The story, embedded with other Palin-McCain-infighting-related revelations that were, according to FoxNews’ Carl Cameron (see below), “put off the record until after the election,” seemed a bit too juicey to be true. And, indeed, it turns out that it wasn’t true at all, but according to The New York Times, the result of a convoluted Internet-related hoax:

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

Now a pair of obscure filmmakers say they created Martin Eisenstadt to help them pitch a TV show based on the character. But under the circumstances, why should anyone believe a word they say?

Read the rest of the article for the full story—a story that is eerily similar to that of YouTube sensation LonelyGirl15.

The New York Times‘ article lays much of the blame at the feet of MSNBC, but it should be noted (for fair and balance reasons) that Fox new’s uber-insider and close Bush friend, Carl Cameron, also reported the story on air:

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