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." (Read more hoax stories.)