Join 3,514 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Palin & Africa Redux
November 12, 2008 6:42 PM   Subscribe

A false expert and phony think tank fool bloggers and the mainstream news media.

The status of Sarah Palin's pre-election knowledge of Africa's continenthood can now be placed from the Not-knowing back into the Unknown category.
posted by lalochezia (110 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
It really doesn't take much to get something that is false into the media - get one paper to believe it and run it and then everyone else just piles on in the desperate rush to not be left behind.
posted by awfurby at 6:48 PM on November 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


What I'm having trouble understanding from this article is: did Gorlin fabricate the Africa anecdote and get it into the media, or did he simply try to take credit for the anecdote?
posted by Llama-Lime at 6:50 PM on November 12, 2008


I WANT TO BELIEVE!!
posted by educatedslacker at 6:53 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Totally what awfurby said.

And, it's just too believable..when I originally read the Africa thing I thought, "Well, that's just someone stretching the truth, then it gets distorted a little more in the game of media telephone...", but the CORE of it doesn't sound a bit more stupid than any of the things I've heard her ACTUALLY SAY.

It's a weird kind of lie...kind of like someone pointing at a random guy and calling him a child molester..no matter whether it's true or not, you start picturing it BEING true, and it tarnishes the guy.

Sarah Palin needed to be the kind of candidate that no one would ever believe this about, in order to be immune to it.

She wasn't.
posted by chronkite at 6:57 PM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Brilliant. Kudos.
posted by ageispolis at 6:59 PM on November 12, 2008


It really doesn't take much to get something that is false into the media - get one paper to believe it and run it and then everyone else just piles on in the desperate rush to not be left behind.

That's not the correct question. Let's try the right question: What if these guys had tried a similar hoax which made Obama look bad instead of making Palin looking bad. Think that the media would have accepted it as readily, and spread it as far and fast, as they did this one?

Hmm?

The problem isn't gullibility, the problem is bias. Including confirmation bias. The reason the media ran with this is that it agreed with their preconceptions of Palin as "Caribou Barbie", and because it furthered the cause of helping to get Obama elected.
posted by Class Goat at 7:01 PM on November 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


The reason the media ran with this is that it agreed with their preconceptions of Palin as "Caribou Barbie", and because it furthered the cause of helping to get Obama elected.

Yeah, a story that broke the day after the election was definitely a big factor in helping Obama win.
posted by decagon at 7:05 PM on November 12, 2008 [61 favorites]


This sounds like something the yes men would come up with instead of that stupid fake news paper. Much better prank.
posted by puke & cry at 7:08 PM on November 12, 2008


The problem isn't gullibility, the problem is bias. Including confirmation bias. The reason the media ran with this is that it agreed with their preconceptions of Palin as "Caribou Barbie", and because it furthered the cause of helping to get Obama elected.

I can see that being true as well to a certain extent - but I think there's also a certain amount of "We gotta sell more newspapers - this story will sell more newspapers, also our competitors are running the story and we can't let them sell more newspapers than us."

So maybe it's the perfect storm of confirmation bias, competitive imperative, short newscycles, and of course feeding into that the amplification by a few thousand bloggers.
posted by awfurby at 7:08 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


These guys just come off as dicks to me. What was the point of this Hoax, none of it is really funny. The prank call to Palin was different because it was so over the top and actually had good jokes in it. Plus they admitted it was a Prank right away.

It seems like the just wanted to trick people for the sake of being assholes. What was the point of making that story about the Casino in Baghdad?

"They say the blame lies not with them but with shoddiness in the traditional news media and especially the blogosphere."

Fuck you. You are the ones that lied, you are responsible.
posted by afu at 7:12 PM on November 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


Not to mention I'm pretty sure the first tv news station to report the story was the fox news channel. I don't think they're interested in helping Obama do anything.
posted by puke & cry at 7:15 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


CORRECTION NOTICE:

In a comment posted November 5th, 2008, Metafilter user Rhaomi, in reaction to reports that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was not aware that Africa was a continent, wrote (among other things) that Palin was "even more of a damfool than we dared suspect". This claim was based on erroneous information and has now been retracted. Until Ms. Palin reveals shocking ignorance on matters of basic geography in a verifiable manner, the user's estimation of her will be reclassified as "about as much of a damfool as we suspected all along." The poster apologizes for any difficulties caused by this error.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:19 PM on November 12, 2008 [52 favorites]


See, the republicans masterminded the whole thing, so they could then turn around and blame the whole thing on the democrats, so Sarah Palin wouldn't look so damned stupid.

That's what I'm sticking with.
posted by bradth27 at 7:19 PM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Uh, guys? The Africa quote wasn't a hoax; the attribution to this fake Martin Eisenstad fellow was a hoax. Even the OP seems to have misunderstood what we're talking about in the FPP.

To repeat for emphasis: That an anonymous McCain campaign person said that Palin didn't even know Africa was a continent is not a hoax.
posted by Justinian at 7:25 PM on November 12, 2008 [27 favorites]


I'm reading the blog now and for them to blame "the blogosphere" is ridicoulus. These people were actively calling up reporters, posing as McCain advisors and giving them false tips.

So yes, to be clear, last week I was the one who leaked those things to a producer at Fox News who works with Cameron. Carl and his producers are good guys, and I don’t want them to have to worry about protecting their sources (and going through the wringer ala Judith Miller or Matt Cooper) on something like this.

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by afu at 7:26 PM on November 12, 2008


The problem isn't gullibility, the problem is bias. Including confirmation bias.

Dude, if anyone had said Obama didn't know Africa was a continent, every single person on the planet would have laughed in unison, and the resulting shockwave would have sent this miserable orb hurtling into the sun.

That ain't bias. That's just common sense.

The point of the whole hoax is that the bitch is SO DUMB, we'd all believe that she'd misunderstand the whole continent/country thing.

Hell, she believes the world is 6000 years old, right?
posted by chronkite at 7:27 PM on November 12, 2008 [8 favorites]


The reason the media ran with this is that it agreed with their preconceptions of Palin as "Caribou Barbie", and because it furthered the cause of helping to get Obama elected.

You're right. I mean, this is the same liberal media that got George W Bush elected to two terms and treats "Joe the Plumber" as a serious expert on economics.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:28 PM on November 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


These people were actively calling up reporters, posing as McCain advisors and giving them false tips.

I don't believe this is clear at all. They are simply taking credit for leaks that didn't originate with them kind of like how every nutjob 3 man pseudo terrorist group used to take credit for every single thing that happened around the world.
posted by Justinian at 7:29 PM on November 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt
The anecdote is true, or came from a real source - this guy claiming credit for it was the hoax. Right?
posted by cashman at 7:30 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I believe we should run this man through a juicer of some sort.
posted by boo_radley at 7:31 PM on November 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


OK, that's it I'm turning off the internet.
posted by awfurby at 7:31 PM on November 12, 2008


Yeah, on non-preview, Justinian has it.
posted by cashman at 7:32 PM on November 12, 2008


The anecdote is true, or came from a real source - this guy claiming credit for it was the hoax. Right?

Yes. As I said, the OP appears to have misunderstood the posted article, and many commenters have either done the same or not bothered to read the article. The anecdote came from a real source. The claim of being that source by this "Martin Eisenstadt" is a hoax. Eisenstadt doesn't exist and was not the source of the Africa anecdote.
posted by Justinian at 7:32 PM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


These people are claiming that they were actively calling up reporters, posing as McCain advisors and giving them false tips.

FTFY. Wheels within wheels, my friend.
posted by designbot at 7:37 PM on November 12, 2008


Thanks Justinian, I thought I was going crazy there for a second. It's weird how the general arc of the NYTimes story contradicts the careful wording of the facts therein, making this absolutely horrific reporting.
posted by Llama-Lime at 7:39 PM on November 12, 2008


I'm going to start taking credit for all anonymous tips. Maybe I can get a tv show.

Ignore that horseshit about William Mark Felt, Sr. being Deep Throat. It was me, man.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:39 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


A couple years back, some friends and I considered starting up an organization similar to this one, where we'd found a fake neoconservative/family values think tank and stage various "well-poisoning" campaigns. The idea was to run to the right of the party line in blatant and borderline ridiculous ways, forcing the genuine folks to veer left for fear of agreeing with us. We even had a beautiful Midwestern friend of ours agree to be spokeswoman. Ultimately, we decided that drinking was a better use of our time.
posted by The White Hat at 7:42 PM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


This sucks. Because it is just like that "kill him" shout at one of Palin's rallies. The news of things like that got more and more coverage, and then the secret service investigated ONE rally's video and audio, and found nothing. So then people immediately ran around saying the "kill him" shout never happened according to the secret service. When no, it was just one random rally they investigated, and I saw the damn tape with my own eyes and heard the shout and saw the discussion of 'it wasn't clear whether the kill him was toward Obama or Ayres'.

But of course a sizable amount of people will now say the Africa thing was a hoax. Let's look around. Yep, happening in a bunch of places already.
posted by cashman at 7:45 PM on November 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


These people are claiming that they were actively calling up reporters, posing as McCain advisors and giving them false tips.

FTFY. Wheels within wheels, my friend.


Shit, my bad. These guys are still assholes though.
posted by afu at 7:47 PM on November 12, 2008


...this is the same liberal media that got George W Bush elected to two terms...

Actually they tried, but failed, to prevent him from being elected. They were biased liberal then, and they're biased liberal now.

I would have thought that was undeniable at this point.
posted by Class Goat at 7:50 PM on November 12, 2008


I am not understanding how there are well-placed people in mainstream media, print and the teevee, who do not know the people in the McCain camp that they talk to all the time, who would take as gospel email or a call from some that they cannot defend when their editors and so forth want to know why something has to run without attribution. So all I see is that this guy, these people, just set something up where they took credit for stuff that was out there and may or may not have been true. (As I recall, the Keating 5 connection story was from a database error, the kind that can get you kicked off the voter rolls if you live in the wrong neighborhood.)

Was the "Los Angeles Times political blog" and the "among others," a blog blog hosted by the paper for any ol' schmoe, or something typed up daily by someone who is expected to know about sources? Not answering that questions is sloppy-ass reporting.

The NY Times really needs to stop being amazing by these newfangled intertubes.

And I want better pranks, damn it.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:53 PM on November 12, 2008


The reason the media ran with this is that it agreed with their preconceptions of Palin as "Caribou Barbie"

She couldn't name a newspaper she reads. Not the Wall Street Journal. Not even the Alaska Daily News!

She couldn't name a Supreme Court decision she disagrees with other than Roe. Not Kelo. Not even Casey!

She said that Alaska provides nearly 20% of America's energy production. Not oil, which would be only an exaggeration; energy!

The media's "preconceptions" are well-founded. The fact that the mainstream media is treating this story as credible says more about her than about them.
posted by nicwolff at 7:59 PM on November 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


Oh, yeah, I forgot that the liberal media would never make up some story about a Democratic candidate to take him down. And remember, kids: Al Gore totally invented the Internet.

(in other news, the media reports whatever sells papers and magazines and gets people listening to the radio or watching the TV, because if they don't someone else will)
posted by ubernostrum at 8:12 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Actually they tried, but failed, to prevent him from being elected. They were biased liberal then, and they're biased liberal now.

Is it possible, perhaps, that the media may not have swayed liberal so much as the GOP has swayed to the extreme right, thereby giving the media the appearance of leaning left? What's the center of a little left and crazy?
posted by rooftop secrets at 8:15 PM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


I liked her in that porno.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:16 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


It IS credible. It's TRUE. Sarah Palin thought Africa was a country. It is NOT a hoax. More specifically, she thought South Africa was just part of a country, not it's own separate country.

The only hoaxy part was the claim that "Martin Eisenstadt" was the anonymous McCain aide who was the source of the story. That is not true because Martin does not exist.

OK?! Now read that back to me so we can make sure we're communicating here.
posted by msalt at 8:17 PM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


And as ubernostrum points out, the media's most blatant bias is towards sensationalism.

I would have thought that was undeniable at this point.
posted by rooftop secrets at 8:17 PM on November 12, 2008


It IS credible. It's TRUE. Sarah Palin thought Africa was a country. It is NOT a hoax.

Source?
posted by gyc at 8:17 PM on November 12, 2008


Tomorrow: NYT reveals that this expose was, in fact, also a hoax, and commits more staff to reading blogs in hopes of uncovering the truth about things.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:28 PM on November 12, 2008


I liked her in that porno.

Time for a new keyboard, mate - your C key is obviously broken.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:29 PM on November 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don't get it.
posted by nola at 8:32 PM on November 12, 2008


Actually they tried, but failed, to prevent him from being elected. They were biased liberal then, and they're biased liberal now.

I would have thought that was undeniable at this point.



God damn I wish they had tried a little harder.
posted by nola at 8:33 PM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


What I'm having trouble understanding from this article is: did Gorlin fabricate the Africa anecdote and get it into the media, or did he simply try to take credit for the anecdote?

It IS credible. It's TRUE. Sarah Palin thought Africa was a country. It is NOT a hoax.

Source?


Martin Eisenstadt Tricks News Orgs On Being Source Of Palin Dirt
“A former campaign adviser to John McCain named Martin Eisenstadt has outed himself as the proud source of the ‘Sarah Palin doesn't know Africa is a continent’ story. The New Republic and MSNBC have picked up the Eisenstadt scoop.

But it's not at all clear that Eisenstadt exists. William K. Wolfrum of Shakespeare's Sister, who was suckered by Eisenstadt during the campaign, did some digging and concluded, ‘There is no M. Thomas Eisenstadt. There is no Eisenstadt Group. There is no Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy. M. Thomas Eisenstadt is a hoax.’

To be clear, none of this means the Africa story is false -- just that it didn't come from this source. Huffington Post has been told on background that Martin Eisenstadt was not one of Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron's sources.

Jonathan Stein at Mother Jones writes of being tricked by Eisenstadt on another scandal:
‘A few hours ago, we (okay, I) posted a blog about a man claiming to be a McCain adviser who made ridiculous comments on Iraqi television about building a casino in the Baghdad Green Zone. In addition to the inherent absurdity of it, there was a lot of arrogance, cultural insensitivity, and racism thrown in. Other blogs had posted on the guy, and when I checked him out before posting I found his blog and a foreign policy institute claiming his employ. Turns out the blog and institute, like the adviser, were an elaborate hoax. It didn't help that the guy, in creating his fictional foreign policy expert, closely mimicked the name of a real foreign policy expert.

Here's why I got taken: I received an emailed press release reporting that the supposed McCain adviser had apologized for his comments about the casino. You're welcome to disagree with me, but I had no reason to believe that someone would invent a persona, a blog, a foreign policy institution, a video with a fake Iraqi television station, a press release, and an organization or email entity to send out said press release.

But frankly, there was enough info on the web that I should have sussed this thing out. This is a long way of saying I apologize and that I'm more than a little ashamed. I've taken the post down. Kudos to the inventor of this whole thing. My only consolation is that if I had as much time on my hands as he clearly does, I probably would have figured this out and saved myself a fair amount of embarrassment.’
Even if he did exist, Eisenstadt doesn't appear to have been high up enough in the McCain campaign to be privy to Sarah Palin's private utterances. According to his own bio, his role in the campaign was ‘offering advice and liaising with the Jewish community in particular.’

The New Republic has retracted its blog post; MSNBC's David Shuster very quickly admitted that ‘there may be some indications’ the story was made up.

In fairness, it should be noted that Huffington Post writers have also fallen for Eisenstadt's tricks on a couple occasions.”
posted by ericb at 8:40 PM on November 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene
posted by nickyskye at 8:42 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I always assumed this story was false mainly because it's completely ridiculous.
posted by swift at 8:48 PM on November 12, 2008



Uh, guys? The Africa quote wasn't a hoax; the attribution to this fake Martin Eisenstad fellow was a hoax.


So is anyone else thinking that this is either the RNC or Sarah Palin's people's form of damage control? To discredit what was originally leaked by anonymous staffers, they have this random Eisenstad take "credit" for the leak. Then, surprise guise, it turns out he's not a McCain staffer at all. So, counting on the faulty logic of Teh People, the hoax story is spun to mean that none of the information that was leaked was true (which they may or may not be, being unattributed hearsay and all) rather than that the Eisenstad was not the source of the leak.

And I stand firm by my conviction that she is dumber than a bag of hair. That she may or may not have known that Africa is a continent, while not entirely beside the point, is just one item on a heap of evidence that supports my belief.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:48 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Africa's not a country?
posted by mazola at 8:50 PM on November 12, 2008


Which I mean to say that if this is a hoax, does that mean Africa is a country?

?!?
posted by mazola at 8:55 PM on November 12, 2008


I liked her in that porno.

Time for a new keyboard, mate - your C key is obviously broken.


I clicked Cher in that porno?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:58 PM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Now a pair of obscure filmmakers say they created Martin Eisenstadt to help them pitch a TV show based on the character.

Oh for fuck's sake.


Last month Eisenstadt blogged that Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, Joe the Plumber, was closely related to Charles Keating, the disgraced former savings and loan chief. It wasn’t true, but other bloggers ran with it.

Ah, yes. That's why he sounded familiar. Again, taking something that had a kernel of truth (Keating's son in law is Robert Wurzelbacher) and using his fake "insider status" to get people all roiled up before it was revealed to be bullshit.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:01 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:02 PM on November 12, 2008


Oh, shit. I totally believed that Joe the Plumber/Charles Keating speculation. And that was before the election. Although I pretty much promptly forgot about it right after I read it.
posted by lunit at 9:02 PM on November 12, 2008


So this is what we can look forward to: news hacking. As the lay public gains greater access to professional audio, video, and technological tools, we can expect much more faux news to spread virally.
posted by terranova at 9:07 PM on November 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


It makes me wonder if people could expand this kind of media fakery into tricking the US or other military into bombing a supposed terrorist target.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:11 PM on November 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


The question is: Was Fox News was quoting Martin Eisenstadt?

If not, and Eisenstadt hoaxed a gullible blogosphere/media bt was not the original source of the story, I messed this up good. Sorry. Aaagh.
posted by lalochezia at 9:13 PM on November 12, 2008


Well, I never cared whether the Africa quote was true or not. I just thought it was hilarious that anyone in the McCain camp was trying this hard to discredit her. I still think there is a lot of unflattering material coming from that direction, but we may be able to discard this particular story.
posted by dhartung at 9:40 PM on November 12, 2008


So this is what we can look forward to: news hacking.

Depends on what you consider to be news.

Rumour that an ex-VP candidate is confused about geography? Not news. Just irrelevant tabloid shite. Same thing could be said about the Obama-Ayres rubbish.

Earthquake in Indonesia? Dow Jones plummeting? Prime Minister of New Zealand trampled by angry sheep? News. Also, harder to fake.

I'd be quite happy for the media (mainstream and try-hard bloggers) to be regarded as completely untrustworthy. It might encourage people to dig deeper for themselves if they're aware they're being spoon-fed bullshit.
posted by Jimbob at 9:45 PM on November 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


We still don't know that she didn't know the difference...

She's made so many stupid comments that it is totally plausible.

Just ask Dan Rather about this shit.
posted by Chuffy at 9:45 PM on November 12, 2008


It's probably wrong of me, but you know why I believe the Africa country/continent story? Because of her reaction to it. She replies like "yeah, it was taken out of context. People are saying things and they're not true."

Whereas I think if most people on this site were interviewed on television in response to someone accusing us of not knowing this, would say something along the lines of "Are you f*cking kidding me? Really? Come on now."

She seemed like she was trying to deny it like there was some gray area there or something. There wasn't the slightest hint of indignation. And as someone pointed out upthread, combine this with her whiffy responses on what newspapers she read and other similar things, and if the question was asked on camera "Is Africa a continent or a country", she really might have "in what respect"ed it.
posted by cashman at 9:49 PM on November 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


Prime Minister of New Zealand trampled by angry sheep? Poor things must've been sex-starved. Were the All Blacks playing at the time, by any chance?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:56 PM on November 12, 2008


Why the heck would anyone believe Sarah Palin cares whether Africa is a country, a continent or a vegetable?
posted by grounded at 9:59 PM on November 12, 2008


There's definitely something prurient about all the Palin hate around here.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:05 PM on November 12, 2008


In fairness, it should be noted that Huffington Post writers have also fallen for Eisenstadt's tricks on a couple occasions.

It should also be noted that, as of this writing, more than 24 hours after this article made the above observation, neither of those two posts have been updated with a correction.
posted by finite at 10:10 PM on November 12, 2008


Oh man I have to go to bed now but I'm all twisting digits that when I wake up there'll be some southern hemisphere caucasian type flamewar to read, all arguing bout which farm animals are better for sex and asserting that their fellow tribesmen advance the ball in a most efficacious manner. All falling down on purpose more fashionably in the designated falling down on purpose zone.

/out of left field Roast Beef impression
posted by Kwine at 10:19 PM on November 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


Actually they tried, but failed, to prevent him from being elected. They were biased liberal then, and they're biased liberal now.

You could actually pay attention to the non-FOX News media instead of just believing what FOX News tells you about their competitors.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:34 PM on November 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


That's not the correct question. Let's try the right question: What if these guys had tried a similar hoax which made Obama look bad instead of making Palin looking bad. Think that the media would have accepted it as readily, and spread it as far and fast, as they did this one?
Something about an Indonesian Madrassa comes to mind...
These guys just come off as dicks to me. What was the point of this Hoax, none of it is really funny. The prank call to Palin was different because it was so over the top and actually had good jokes in it. Plus they admitted it was a Prank right away.
Yeah because joking about having just watched a porno based on the life of the person you're speaking to is such a classy thing to do.

Anyway, the joke is how gullible the media is. They report all kinds of shit and this just shows how poor they are at their job. It's not funny, it's instructive. Don't you think people with agendas lie to the media all the time? The only reason we found out about this was because the agenda here was just to fuck around.

Interestingly the Madrassa smear and the "Is Africa a continent or a country" thing were both promulgated by Fox news.
To repeat for emphasis: That an anonymous McCain campaign person said that Palin didn't even know Africa was a continent is not a hoax.
My, how meta.
It IS credible. It's TRUE. Sarah Palin thought Africa was a country. It is NOT a hoax. More specifically, she thought South Africa was just part of a country, not it's own separate country.
No, what's true is that someone in the McCain campaign made a claim like that. We don't know exactly what was said, or even have any idea what was said, so we can't be sure what she knew or didn't know. My guess is that she just thought South Africa was a region in Africa, like North Africa is a region in Africa.
posted by delmoi at 10:46 PM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Prurient? In what respect, Burhanistan? We thought Bush was stupid, too.
posted by ryanrs at 10:47 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anybody else reminded of the Dan Rather/Texas Air National Guard story? A strange, pointless fraud used to discredit a true story?
posted by words1 at 11:05 PM on November 12, 2008


Prime Minister of New Zealand trampled by angry sheep?
Oh, please let that one be true!

</stillBitterAboutSaturday>
posted by Sonny Jim at 11:28 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is this what they mean by "gotcha journalism"?
posted by chillmost at 12:25 AM on November 13, 2008


We thought Bush was stupid, too.
There was a certain prurient element to that as well, assuming "fucked in the head" counts as prurient.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:31 AM on November 13, 2008


It probably doesn't.
posted by ryanrs at 2:47 AM on November 13, 2008


Mr. Gorlin said they chose the name [Matin Eisenstadt] because “all the neocons in the Bush administration had Jewish last names and Christian first names.”
I know, Martin Luther, Martin Niemöller and all that (and Martin Luther King), but "Martin" has always seemed kinda Jewey: Martin Buber.
posted by orthogonality at 2:53 AM on November 13, 2008


Actually they tried, but failed, to prevent him from being elected. They were biased liberal then, and they're biased liberal now.

I would have thought that was undeniable at this point.


Oh, they tried that? Sure they did.

I not only would think - I do think it's not just deniable, it's complete bullshit. The media is not "biased liberal," it"s biased corporate.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:40 AM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Stunts like this give politicians "plausible deniability" for all the actual stupid things they say and do. Little lies like this bullshit make Palin look like the victim.

Calling any lie a "hoax" minimizes the immorality and puts it in the category of crop circles. The Dan Rather targeting was never labeled a hoax or a prank like it should have been, but was used as a punitive cudgel to discredit a good man. When pranks are done to them, it does not discredit Fox news for not checking sources, but instead makes liberals look like devious assholes. Sorry, but we just cannot play by the same rules as bullies because they win either way.
posted by Bitter soylent at 4:08 AM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


The anecdote came from a real source. The claim of being that source by this "Martin Eisenstadt" is a hoax.

Not only that, but this is all Clinton's fault! And the Liberal Media is lying too! Time to buy guns, white America!

Seriously though, this isn't a hoax so much as a spin job, a behind-the-scenes attempt to repair Palin's shoddy reputation with a smear and misinformation campaign, pointed against people who dare to point out that she is a fucking dimwit.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:11 AM on November 13, 2008


The reason the media ran with this is that it agreed with their preconceptions of Palin as "Caribou Barbie", and because it furthered the cause of helping to get Obama elected.

Another cunning plan from The Communist Liberal Media, using their Marxist Muslim Time Machines to run a story about Palin's idiocy after we elected ACORN!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:30 AM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hunter S. Thompson died too soon.
posted by nickyskye at 4:51 AM on November 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


UbuRoivas, have you been supping the amber nectar?
posted by asok at 5:01 AM on November 13, 2008


Prime Minister of New Zealand trampled by angry sheep? Poor things must've been sex-starved. Were the All Blacks playing at the time, by any chance?

I suspect, given the timing, that we've just discovered a liberal bias in New Zealand's largest mammal population.
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:20 AM on November 13, 2008


> It's probably wrong of me, but you know why I believe the Africa country/continent story? Because of her reaction to it. She replies like "yeah, it was taken out of context. People are saying things and they're not true."

Via the New York Times:
“If there are allegations based on questions or comments I made in debate prep about Nafta — about the continent versus the country when we talk about Africa there — then those were taken out of context. And that’s cruel, it’s mean-spirited, it’s immature, it’s unprofessional and those guys are jerks if they came away with it taking things out of context, then tried to spread something on national news,” Ms. Palin said.
Her line "The continent versus the country when we talk about Africa there" makes it pretty clear to me that Eisenstadt didn't so much make up things from whole cloth as guess lucky. And that, even worse, she still doesn't know or care.
posted by ardgedee at 5:45 AM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm happy to see people point out that the "elaborate hoax" in this case was attribution; as in "Oh hi, I'm the anonymous source".

This still leaves the question unanswered: when the people at FOX who were in contact with the real anonymous source saw this other guy pretending to be the source, why didn't they step forward and say, "Uh, no, that's not the guy."?

Either way, I think of this as a good thing. Anonymous sources are important in bringing important informtion to light; not dropping snide gossipy snippets. I hope more people falsely claim attribution for anonymous gossip. Enough of this.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:00 AM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Of course Palin's alleged remarks about Africa were a hoax. That was obvious to anyone with eyes to see. Not so obvious--Sarah Palin was a hoax, too. That's right. Sarah Palin doesn't really exist. Tina Fey and a bunch of Daily Kos commenters just made her up. Think about it.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:04 AM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Has anyone checked whether Snopes is making up stuff?
posted by lukemeister at 6:23 AM on November 13, 2008


Yeah, a story that broke the day after the election was definitely a big factor in helping Obama win.

It happens, and it's a new but very smart tactic.

Running with this information after the election certainly turned some minds against Palin, and by extension McCain -- after they heard about this, there were some people who would never vote for McCain.

But the brain is a network of quantum processors. And one of the weird things about quantum stuff is that the probabilities of different quantum states of a particle can start shifting before the external event that causes them to shift has time to reach the particle.

As well, there was a really unprecedented level of polling going on, both nationally and even more so in battleground states, and polling is nothing if not intense observation. That means this polling causes the quantum wave of the respondents' neural nets to collapse to a certain state instead of being smeared across pro-McCain and pro-Obama at the same time. And when it collapsed, the smearing was biased towards Obama because of the event that hadn't happened yet.

So put all this together, and you can have people responding on Tuesday to an event they won't hear about until Wednesday, thanks to the weird spookiness of quantum physics. A lot of people? Probably not. But enough, maybe, to sway the election in Indiana or North Carolina.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:25 AM on November 13, 2008 [5 favorites]


If you didn't watch Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story on Frontline the other night, you missed an amazing documentary. Lee Atwater was the master of using dirty tricks to get people elected including the use of outright lies; Karl Rove and W were his protégés. It is amazing how many lies Atwater got the the press and public to swallow whole with no question.

For example, during the 88 Presidential campaign a Republican Senator gave a press conference where he announced that a confidential source had evidence-- including pictures-- that Kitty Dukakis attended a protest rally where she burned the American Flag. Kitty Dukakis vehemently denied that she had ever attended a protest rally, much less burned a flag. No pictures or any credible witnesses were ever produced. It was just one more master brush stroke in the painting of Michale Dukakis as a commie, pinko elitist who hated America.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:38 AM on November 13, 2008


1988 was a real low in campaigning history. Wille Horton was pretty bad, but what puzzled me most was how readily "liberal" was tranformed into a pejorative. e.g., "He's a card-carrying liberal". Well, he's a Democrat. Of course he's liberal. What does this even mean, right? It didn't need to mean anything - it's how it was said. That said, GHWB was such a weak candidate with so many openings in his armor that there is no reason why even a moderately competent Democrat wouldn't have been able to eviscerate him. It was a battle between Captain Sneermeister and the Snore Machine.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:46 AM on November 13, 2008


Actually they tried, but failed, to prevent him from being elected. They were biased liberal then, and they're biased liberal now.

I would have thought that was undeniable at this point.


Nope, that's just a hoax I started. (Although, to be fair, Nixon and Agnew were in on it with me.)
posted by snofoam at 7:08 AM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hey Gravy that was an excellent documentary. I found myself hating Atwater more and more as it went on. I really didn't quite remember his demise, but after watching that I didn't hate as much. However, there was little pity. Makes me wonder what kind of karma is gonna hit GWB and Rove. Hope it is bad enough that I end up pitying them.
posted by HyperBlue at 7:25 AM on November 13, 2008


Is this what they mean by "gotcha journalism"?
posted by chillmost at 12:25 AM on November 13 [+] [!]


I think you missed a comma there.

I'm so dazzled by the various degrees of misunderstanding and misinformation winging around like a flock of vultures in this thread that I've basically hit rock bottom and have retreated into solipsism and thumbsucking.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:27 AM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Read.

The.

Flippin.

Article.

"Sarah Palin didn't know Africa was a continent" remains the charge made by unidentified McCain staffers who were known to the reporter (Fox News' Carl Cameron), who withheld their names.

A guy popping up to take credit for that charge? THAT WAS THE HOAX.

... as the article states.
posted by sacre_bleu at 7:31 AM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Palin and Joe the plumber are only the beginning. The yahoo wing of the GOP is in ascendency and I'm thrilled.
posted by wrapper at 7:43 AM on November 13, 2008


"Sarah Palin didn't know Africa was a continent" remains the charge made by unidentified McCain staffers who were known to the reporter (Fox News' Carl Cameron), who withheld their names.

A guy popping up to take credit for that charge? THAT WAS THE HOAX.


I get that bit. What I still don't get is why Cameron didn't immediately denounce the fraudulent source as a fraud.

My guess is either a) FOX just made stuff up, or b) Cameron was only in touch with these "unidentified McCain staffers" via e-mail or phone. In which case, they could have been anyone. Either way, this shines a huge light on the flaws in their verification system.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:59 AM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Africa quote wasn't may or may not be a hoax; the attribution to this fake Martin Eisenstad fellow was a hoax.

FTFY.

"Sarah Palin didn't know Africa was a continent" remains the charge made by unidentified McCain staffers who were known to the reporter (Fox News' Carl Cameron), who withheld their names.

So, it's not possible that the Africa quote was something made up by either Carl Cameron or by McCain staffers? You can't think of any motive why McCain staffers might, post-election, want to make Sarah Palin look bad?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:57 AM on November 13, 2008


Palin:about the continent versus the country when we talk about Africa there
Is there any way to explain this that does not make her look bad?
posted by davar at 10:29 AM on November 13, 2008


chronkite, there is no need for gender-based attacks against Palin. She was picked as a token woman, but her lack of knowledge, her politics, her lies and not acknowledging she was way in over her head are what earned her her reputation.
posted by ersatz at 10:35 AM on November 13, 2008


I thought the character attack against Sarah Palin was about a side of her character that was almost totally ignored. She's mean. One can't help being stupid. It's just the way they were born, but when people engage in willful acts of malice like saying that Obama is "cavorting with terrorists" or firing someone because he won't fire her relative's ex-husband. Let's face it. If she had been elected she could have hired people to try and explain things to her. The real danger would be her using her political influence on her own personal vendettas.
posted by Pseudology at 11:34 AM on November 13, 2008


oops.. let me fix my previous post.

I thought the best character attack...
posted by Pseudology at 11:37 AM on November 13, 2008


What I still don't get is why Cameron didn't immediately denounce the fraudulent source as a fraud.

My guess is either a) FOX just made stuff up, or b) Cameron was only in touch with these "unidentified McCain staffers" via e-mail or phone. In which case, they could have been anyone. Either way, this shines a huge light on the flaws in their verification system.


Marisa Stole: I don't know the answer. One possibility besides Cameron being crooked or inept is that this "story" bubbled up and was debunked before Cameron got to it. A lot of reporters (and political staffer types) are on long vacations after a marathon campaign.

Devil's Advocate: No, sorry, it remains factually incorrect to describe Carl Cameron's reporting as a hoax. Cameron may have made it up (no sources) or been lied to (fabricator sources). But his report is a real report from a real journalist, or as real as you want to credit Fox News with being.

So, it's not possible that the Africa quote was something made up by either Carl Cameron or by McCain staffers? You can't think of any motive why McCain staffers might, post-election, want to make Sarah Palin look bad?

Certainly it is possible. I'm not defending Cameron, just sticking up for reading comprehension.

What we know happened (Somebody made up a guy taking credit for the Palin slams, fooling one or two credulous news outlets) and the misreading that many here have applied to it ("Remember that stuff about Palin not knowing Africa was a continent? It was a hoax!") are two different things.

Cameron may have made his report up. The former McCain staffers who fed him the story might have made it up. But that's not what TFA said.
posted by sacre_bleu at 12:29 PM on November 13, 2008


One possibility besides Cameron being crooked or inept is that this "story" bubbled up and was debunked before Cameron got to it. A lot of reporters (and political staffer types) are on long vacations after a marathon campaign.

I'm just speculating out loud with you here, but this theory doesn't make a lot of sense. Cameron and FOX News broke this story the day of or the day after the elections. They are the origins of this story, and made it public more or less within hours of polls closing.

My guess is yes, they ran a juicy bit of news without asking for any verification. If they had met these sources face to face, or knew who they even were, FOX would have denounced the pranksters for the frauds they are.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:39 PM on November 13, 2008


Cameron may have made it up (no sources) or been lied to (fabricator sources).

In which case it would justifiably be called a hoax. Not as elaborate as the one perpetrated by Mirvish and Gorlin, to be sure, but a hoax nonetheless.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:04 PM on November 13, 2008


orthogonality, Martin is a Roman name related to Mars, but Martin of Tours more or less established its Christian bona fides.
posted by prosthezis at 1:47 PM on November 13, 2008


Man, I’m really worried about the economy. People are losing their homes, businesses are going bankrupt and the HEY! PAY ATTENTION TO ME! PAY ATTENTION TO ME! LOOK AT ME! LOOKITME LOOKITME LOOKITME!
...uh... anyway, we should be talking about how to get people back to work and stop the bleeding of the
SARAH PALIN IS AS DUMB AS A BAG OF HAMMERS! DO YOU KNOW THAT?! IT’S REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT!!
...um...bleeding of the...what was I saying? The economy. I mean, I’d like to make sure other people are working even if I’m doing ok myself, because if the economic environment is poi
SARAH PALIN IS NOT DUMB! IT WAS A BIG HOAX TEH MEDIAZ SUXZORZ! LOL! LOOK AT US! OVER HERE! LOOK AT US WITH ALL THIS TIME ON OUR HANDS!!! LOOK!
..uh, poisoned, then..uh. What was I saying? We’re in a lot of trouble here. And too much time and attention is spent on irrelevant
THATS WHAT WE’RE SAYING! SO LOOK AT US! WE’RE RELEVANT! WE’RE IMPORTANT!
...look, I just want to do my damn job and not see other people put out in the streets either, ok?
Screw Palin. She’s as dumb as a chicken. Or maybe she’s a genius. I don’t know. Who cares? She lost. Time to go back into obscurity. Why should I waste the time and attention on thinking about anything she said or didn’t. She could die tomorrow or discover she’s going to live forever and it wouldn’t affect my life in the slightest.
Screw ‘media bias.’ Screw political hacking. Screw bloggers. Screw all this useless Britany Spears crap that takes away our attention from the real work that needs to be done.

It’s getting too close to the bone and there’s a lot of real work to be done.
This stuff is romper room man. Maybe the media is biased. Maybe it isn’t.

Certainly we need accurate information. But it’d be nice if the quibbling over what’s accurate and what isn’t were over something relevant like putting food on the table and having a roof over your head.

(Not on mefi of course, it’s made for discourse at all levels as a matter of information and entertainment, but on the broader social level - this shouldn’t have even rated a blip. Hell, it’s getting so you can’t even get an idea of what’s going on in your own city. We gotta talk about what some guy speculates some anonymous source might have said about how someone thinks about something. Who cares? Are they going to fix the damn roads or not?)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:20 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I still don't get is why Cameron didn't immediately denounce the fraudulent source as a fraud." MTPS, why would Cameron do that? Relationships with sources are valuable. Talking about who sources are not, at least publicly, is the same as talking about who they are not, which is narrowing the field of who they are. There's nothing to be gained by chasing that down, beyond perhaps calling the sources and asking if they had been jacking with you.

I have no idea in the world what went on in this case, but I have a friend or two who have flown around on campaign planes, and those people get pretty close. I'd be surprised if even a Fox reporter took a call or email from a complete stranger and ran with what that person said.

It's like Justinian said, this is like when every nutjob pseudo terrorist takes credit for every single thing that happens in the world.

And Smedleyan, if the anonymous source was in a budget meeting, they'd have information about fixing the damn roads so this whole anonymous source things is important to real news - of course the good Americans of Alaska have been willing to go on the record about the various ways Ms. Palin has looted the infrastructure resources of the good state of Alaska and nobody seems to care...
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:56 PM on November 13, 2008


why would Cameron do that? Relationships with sources are valuable. Talking about who sources are not, at least publicly, is the same as talking about who they are not, which is narrowing the field of who they are.

Maybe to discredit a fraud enjoying some falsely-deserved limelight? That in itself is a story. Sure, it narrows the field by one person out of who knows how many, but given FOX's generaly MO towards a sort of insular self-propogation, I'd think they'd be one of the first to point and say, "Fraud, possibly an Obama activist, makes fraudulent claim." It really feels to me as though they decided to play it safe, and just not saying anything, just in case the three-line e-mail or anonymous phone call Cameron received really was from this guy.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:02 PM on November 13, 2008


Welcome to America, where the Ends? Yea, they justify the means. (apparently.)
posted by TomMelee at 7:47 PM on November 13, 2008


I must admit that this thread has been a roller coaster ride for me.

When I initially saw the title I thought, "Thank you Sweet Jesus! Just one last hit of a sweet, sweet Palin pile-on thread and then I'll quit." You see, I've been having some Sarah Palin withdrawls lately--nothing really serious, mind you, just a little tremble in the hands and some night sweats--but I had just about got the Palin DT's licked when I saw this thread.

My heart started beating a little faster and my hand shook so hard that I could hardly click on the link. I just knew that someone had found more dirt on Churchy Spice.

But no--all there is to this is some stupid crap on somebody who falsely claimed that he made stuff up on Sarah Palin. Don't you people understand??? I need to read more dirt about her. Or her family. Or her fucking dog if nothing else! I've spent the last few months reading about dirt on the Alaska Governor and I NEED MORE!

Just one more article about her clothes or her lack of intellect or her dysfunctional family and then I'll quit obsessing about her--I swear.

Please?
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:28 AM on November 14, 2008


Just so you know, Liberal Women Hate Palin Because: she has non-neurotic sex with that Todd Palin guy. Dennis Miller and Bill "Falafel" O'Reilly indulge themselves.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:05 AM on November 14, 2008


So people apart from Jay Leno care what Dennis Miller has to say on any given subject? Huh. I guess that's interesting in itself.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:13 PM on November 14, 2008


What's ridiculous about all of this is that the Martin Eisenstadt dude was exposed as a hoaxer way back in June -- by a blogger -- and his exposé was one of the top links on Google.

If any of these news sites had just looked up his name, they would have seen that the guy was a hoaxer. So I hardly feel sorry for them getting taken in.
posted by electrasteph at 8:13 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


« Older Nanobliss...  |  Forget all your worries with ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments