A story in today's New York Times is a remarkably funny (yet sobering in its own way) look at how the demand to fill the 24-hour news cycle is getting out of hand, allowing mischief-makers to create chaos. Remember the "Palin didn't know Africa was a continent" story? Here's the story behind the hoax. Yes, it was a hoax that FOX News fell for but isn't it sad that when you heard that story, you just wanted to believe it, too, just a little bit.
It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.
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.