a definition of an “Eisenstadt”

by twit

Specifically, when you make things up out of thin air, and it turns out to be true… see what you want to see…

For example, the idea that Palin didn’t know that Africa was a continent:

was a hoax apparently true based in some reality, but smeared with an Eisenstadt.  According to the New York Times on November 13, 2008:

It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

What is so funny is that before the rumor was exposed as a hoax, Palin’s campaign staff confirmed that it was true there was a basis for the rumor.  ABC News reports on November 14, 2008:

Longtime Palin staffer Meg Stapleton told ABC News’ Kate Snow that Palin had fumbled over an Africa comment, but that it was a misspeak not worthy of the press coverage it received.

She explained that during a briefing session, someone asked Palin to explain the McCain-Palin stance on an issue, and as she was responding, “in the middle, she said ‘country of Africa’ and somebody instantly wrote it down and said, ‘Oh, my God, she thinks it’s a country.'”

But “she knows it’s a continent,” Stapleton said. “It was just a human mistake, just like Obama saying 57 states. I don’t think anyone ever doubted that Obama knows there are 50 states.”

But wait, there’s more…

Based on what appears on Martin Eisenstadt’s blog, it looks like this zeitgeist phenomena may also have happened when Eisenstadt “leaked” the drunken Seth Meyers slip about an invitation from Saturday Night Live to Obama on the weekend before the election.

First, Eisenstadt reported that the LA Times confirmed it, and I leave it to readers to decide whether there was confirmation in the LA Times quote.  But then, as Eisenstadt notes later on, a blogger with the strength of constitution to withstand the NPR show Fresh Air reports that Seth Meyers confirmed the invitation to NPR.  This twit lacks the ability to withstand that particular NPR program, and therefore is not going to confirm whether this is an accurate description of what was said.  Nevertheless, this kind of thing is quite a commentary on the way that information gets packaged and distributed in the news and on the web.

According to ABC News on November 14, 2008:

Eisenstadt is the fabrication of two filmmakers, Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish, who, as The New York Times first reported Wednesday, succeeded at an elaborate hoax that fooled countless media outlets into believing Eisenstadt was a real political insider.

Over the course of the past year and a half, Gorlin and Mirvish — under the guise of Eisenstadt — infiltrated political coverage on several occasions, when media outlets picked up on their fake political commentary on their blog postings and video clips.

Although it seems important to point out that the hoaxes were mixed in with actual news reporting:

… not everything that Eisenstadt blogged about was false.

When news of Palin’s expensive wardrobe was leaked, Mirvish said that he did “legwork real journalists probably should have been doing” to research the money the campaign had been spending on makeup artists.

Mirvish claims to have discovered that there was a third person who had been paid by the RNC who, upon further investigation of the party’s FEC filings, was responsible for Palin’s fake tan — not her makeup.

and not that the LA Times blog Top of the Ticket is bitter or anything, but:

One day Martin told a fantastic tale about a woman, Paris Hilton, he had loved since the night he first saw her in an Internet film clip. To impress, Martin made up a story about Paris’ rich grandfather. He said things about the old man’s generous Republican donations and criticized someone named John McCain, who’d implied Paris was a mere celebrity.

After publishing his story Martin waited in his fuzzy slippers, hoping Paris would find him in his dank Schenectady basement.

But instead early last summer, a blog called The Ticket saw Martin’s made-up story and, never having been to Eisenstadt to hear the sad story of Eisenstadt, it mentioned some of Martin’s fictitious details about Paris’ grandpa and his nonexistent anger with McCain. How silly was that?

Then, that blog corrected itself in an item just like this.

It seems appropriate to let this character Eisenstadt have the last word:

For all you fellow travelers spewing such venom in my direction, bite on this for a moment. Before I announced that I was the source for the Palin/Africa story, everyone, without exception, believed it to be true. The only question was who leaked it. Now, as a result of me outing myself, there is doubt about even the original allegations. A smell of fishiness has crept into the whole story. And MSNBC is finally being called out for its rampant biases and sloppy journalism. I believe that’s what they call “taking one for the team”.

update: with thanks to William K. Wolfrum for the additional perspective.

6 Responses to a definition of an “Eisenstadt”

  1. For example, the idea that Palin didn’t know that Africa was a continent: was a hoax

    You have deciphered the message wrong. Like many others.

  2. no need to be shy William, this twit doesn’t mind if you explain yourself here:

    But despite the knowledge that Eisenstadt was a parody, a new meme emerged that shows, dare I say, a profound lack of critical thinking skills:

    Carl Cameron of Fox News cited anonymous sources from the McCain Campaign that Sarah Palin wasn’t too bright + Martin Eisenstadt claims to be a McCain Campaign worker and that he was the anonymous source + Martin Eisenstadt is found to be a hoax = Carl Cameron was fooled by Martin Eisenstadt and his anonymous reports are therefore lies!


    You are saying that Eisenstadt claimed credit, but wasn’t actually the source.

    It would have been a lot funnier if he was the source, made it up and happened to be right.

    I suppose an “Eisenstadt” is better defined as seeing what one wants to see…

  3. cartster says:

    then what do you make of Eisenstadt’s Paris Hilton story? I saw one interview where the fake Eisenstadts called it “speculative truth.” They did the research on the hilton donations to mccain campaign, but made up the part about them yelling at the mccain headquarters. but three days later, Hilton’s mom said, “why yes, everyone’s been asking me about it and, gosh, we are angry!”

  4. that’s the kind of thing I was getting at in the first version of this post. Eisenstadt creating “leaks” that turn out to be true is funny from a satirical standpoint.

    Other than that, I think Eisenstadt is like radioactive dye that we can trace around the blogosphere and the media to illuminate cracks in the investigation and reporting process.

  5. The truth, it seems, is stranger than the fiction; and if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times also: “the fiction is often the last refuge of the truth.”

    The true sources of the leaks have yet to be discovered, but when they are, Joe the Plumber will fix them, and we will make them famous.

    The fact is that I, Sarah Palin, did not know that the NAFTA is a trade agreement between our country and Canada and also Mexico. And also, I didn’t know that Africa is a continent and not a country. In fact, I kinda still don’t.

    Now, let me just say here that running for Vice President has humbled me greatly. I now know just exactly what it is that the VP does every day: deal with complicated things of which I know very little. That is why I am going back to Alaska, where my talents as a Governor and a hockey mom will be more fully appreciated.

    While Martin Eisenstadt will never again work on any of my campaigns, I sure hope that I don’t have to run against the next person who hires him.

    For more information about my insights and the knowledge that I have regarding foreign policy matters, please visit my website:


    and remember:

    Sarah Palin, TwentyTwelve!

    You betcha.

  6. Pingback: an Ellie Light list « The Church of the Apocalyptic Kiwi

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