MSNBC thought it had a scoop: On Monday, it identified "Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser" as the man who claimed Sarah Palin didn't know Africa was a continent. Only trouble? Martin Eisenstadt doesn't exist—he's a character in an elaborate, months-long hoax that has taken in news organizations from the New Republic to the LA Times, the New York Times reports.
"With the 24-hour news cycle they rush into anything they can find," said one of two obscure filmmakers who built up the Eisenstadt character, complete with a bogus think tank and a frequently updated blog. Despite warnings that Eisenstadt is a fake, bloggers and the mainstream media keep quoting him. As for the name, the filmmakers explain, "All the neocons in the Bush administration had Jewish last names and Christian first names."