Is it a continent after all?

Is it a continent after all?

When an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent, the juicy news spread out like fire. In an age of round-the-clock news and little – if nothing – fact checking, the rumor became as true as the Earth is round.

Media heads tried to find out the name of the unnamed source, and finally MSNBC came up with the answer. David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor (the one suspended for saying the Clintons “pimped out Chelsea”): “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks”.

Trouble is, the source is a hoax. As the NYT says,

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.

“Martin Eisenstadt” is the product of filmmakers Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish. It’s not the first time Mr. Eisenstadt causes real uproar with his fake leaks. In June the pair produced a fake interview of Eisenstadt on Iraqi television promoting construction of a casino in the Green Zone in Baghdad. Outraged Iraqi bloggers protested the casino idea.

And in July, after the McCain campaign compared Senator Barack Obama to Paris Hilton, the Eisenstadt blog said “the phone was burning off the hook” at McCain headquarters, with angry calls from Ms. Hilton’s grandfather and others. Many blogs, including the Los Angeles Times political blog, retold the story citing Eisenstadt by name and linking to his blog.