Tag Archives: sarah palin

About That Palin Backstabbing… [Followup]

An article on MediaBistro says that the Eisenstadt hoaxers merely took credit for being Cameron’s source for the “Africa is a country” rumor on Fox News, and I’m mature enough to admit that my previous post was incorrect.

But that still doesn’t absolve Fox from giving credence to what is clearly intra-Republican backstabbing and vicious rumor-mongering. If Palin was really that stupid, you’d think that “anonymous McCain aides” would come forward and testify openly so as to prevent her from ever running for anything again. The fact that they haven’t done so, and that plenty of other people — friends and enemies — who know her from more than a couple of bad interviews (namely, the voters and politicians of Alaska) say that she’s plenty smart*, suggests to me that this is, as I said, merely a vicious rumor.

Anonymous sourcing is a first-class ticket to the sort of weasel politics we all should righteously despise, but nevertheless supposedly reputable institutions like the NYT or the Washington Post use it all too frequently against their political enemies. Shame on Fox for succumbing to the same racket.

Since I’ve made an issue of this story, I’m going to keep following it in case the identity of the anonymous source turns up.

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About That Palin Backstabbing…

Update: followup post here.


I’d assumed that the genesis of the “Sarah Palin thinks Africa is a country not a continent” story/smear was sour-grapes McCain staffers lashing out at anything but their boss for his electoral defeat.

Turns out it’s not even from a real McCain staffer, or actually even a real person at all.

The NYT:

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?

“That’s a really good question,” one of the two, Eitan Gorlin, said with a laugh.

Indeed. Read the whole thing and all that.

What this tells us is that political campaigns in the future need to be much more cognizant of what’s going on in the extended blogosphere. In a properly-run campaign, this story would have been spotted by a real staffer who could have had the campaign manager say “we’ve never heard of this guy — whoever he is, he doesn’t work for us.”

It also tells us that when a story looks too good to be true — when it perfectly confirms our pre-existing bias notions — that maybe we should treat it skeptically until we can verify it independently. Remember, “unnamed sources say” is exactly equivalent to “I heard this juicy rumor.”