Martin Eisenstadt, principal of the Eisenstadt Group and Senior Fellow at The Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy is on a the mind of a lot of bloggers and cable news talent bookers lately. Apparently Mr. Eisenstadt, as an adviser to Senator John McCain, leaked the story that former G.O.P. Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin didn’t know that Africa is a continent and not a single country. That bit of news was picked up by many, many media sources including Fox News, whose Carl Cameron’s on-air telling of the anecdote Media Mob saw fit to include in a round-up of post-election bashing of Governor Palin. He also spread the rumor that Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher was spotted "canoodling" with Saturday Night Live‘s Kristen Wiig and that he might appear on The Bachelor. That little story made it to Politico’s Shenanigans blog, written by Anne Schroeder Mullins, and then the New York Post on Nov. 4, in a "Campaign Morsels" sidebar that is not online, but was recounted in New York magazine’s Daily Intel blog.
And who can forget back in August when Mr. Eisenstadt revealed that Paris Hilton’s family was offended with the McCain campaign for an ad that compared Senator Obama to Ms. Hilton and Britney Spears.
This election year, Mr. Eisenstadt has been full of great scoops. He’s also been completely full of it.
As The New York Times‘ Richard Pérez-Peña reports today, there is no Martin Eisenstadt, no Eisenstadt Group, and no Harding Institute. Mr. Pérez-Peña is not the first to reveal this—Daily Intel actually picked apart Mr. Eisenstadt, with the help of SourceWatch—in their retraction of the Joe The Plumber/Kristen Wiig story, but The Times has a lot more info on the men behind the fake G.O.P. adviser.
Mr. Pérez-Peña reveals that "Martin Eisenstadt" was created by Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish to make a point about the gullibility of the media (and, natch, pitch a TV project). Writes Mr. Pérez-Peña:
‘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.
While blogs and 24-hours cable news channels may be a new playground for pranksters to pull their shenanigans, Messrs. Gorlin and Mirvish are far from the first media-savvy hoaxers to prey upon reporters and show bookers. Alan Abel and Joe Skaggs were pulling off these sorts of stunts when the two would-be filmmakers were still in short pants.
Adding to the confusing hall-of-mirrors (fake G.O.P. advisers! fake think tanks!), Mr. Pérez-Peña also reports today (with Brian Stelter) on yesterday‘s fake New York Times, which prompted Martin Eisenstadt—Or is it Eitan Gorlin? Or Dan Mirvish? Who knows anymore?—to proclaim on his blog Hoax New York Times puts hoax version of Martin Eisenstadt on front page!
How does Mr. Pérez-Peña even know he was speaking to the real fake Martin Eisenstadt? He apparently asked an unnamed colleague, as he explains in a somewhat cryptic aside:
Whatever. Just take the red pill.