The New York Times Thursday identifies the man behind the elaborate hoax that tricked some members of the media into reporting that a McCain adviser named Martin Eisenstadt was behind the leaks that Sarah Palin didn't know whether Africa was a continent or a country.
According to the Times' Richard Perez-Pena, Eisenstadt is a fictional creation made up by two filmmakers:
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.
(For what it's worth, another reporter for The New York Times is an acquaintance of Mr. Gorlin and vouches for his identity, and Mr. Gorlin is indeed "Mr. Eisenstadt" in those videos. He and his partner in deception, Dan Mirvish, have entries on the Internet Movie Database, imdb.com. But still. ...)
They say the blame lies not with them but with shoddiness in the traditional news media and especially the blogosphere.
"With the 24-hour news cycle they rush into anything they can find," said Mr. Mirvish, 40.
Mr. Gorlin, 39, argued that Eisenstadt was no more of a joke than half the bloggers or political commentators on the Internet or television.
However, while MSNBC — which ran with Eisenstadt's story, along with The New Republic — has retracted the story (that Eisenstadt was the McCain camp leak), Fox News won't be retracting Carl Cameron's original report about the Palin/Africa flap, because it did not come from Eisenstadt — which the Huffington Post was told on background earlier this week and which the filmmakers confirmed to TVNewser Thursday:
"To be very clear, no, we were not the source for Carl Cameron and never spoke to him," Mirvish tells TVNewser. "We took credit for his anonymous sourcing. If they were going to be cowards, then we figured we may as well step in."