Martin Eisenstadt: Pundit or Fraud?

Martin Eisenstadt isn't who you think he is.

He's not a pundit, a political strategist or even a fellow at a Washington, D.C., think tank.

And he's definitely not a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

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.

The most recent incident came right after Election Day, when Fox News cited anonymous McCain aides as having claimed that Gov. Sarah Palin did not know Africa was a continent.

The furor over the report caused the Palin camp to lambaste the anonymous source for taking the governor's comment out of context.

Mirvish and Gorlin weren't the original anonymous source, but jumped at the opportunity to make fun of what they call the media's propensity to use anonymous sources.

On Nov. 10, the duo posted a blog entry about the Fox report in which they -- or Eisenstadt -- falsely claimed to be coming forward as the anonymous source who leaked the Palin blunder.

"So yes, to be clear, last week I was the one who leaked those things to a producer at Fox News," read the Eisenstadt blog, penned by Gorlin.

In the post, Eisenstadt claimed he was a foreign policy adviser who helped Palin prep for the debate.

"[Fox News] basically set it up so it would make sense that their [anonymous source] was us," Mirvish said.

Later that day, MSNBC picked up on the fraudulent admission by Gorlin and incorrectly reported that Eisenstadt was Fox's anonymous source.

MSNBC quickly realized its mistake and corrected it, later apologizing that the piece ever made air.

Asked whether Palin had any reaction to Eisenstadt claiming to be the anonymous source, Bill McAllister, Palin's press secretary, told that Palin has "maintained all along that this was a ridiculous allegation, as I think should have been apparent to everyone."

But a Palin campaign spokesperson said otherwise when the Fox report was first released.

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."

Now that the hoax is revealed, Mirvish and Gorlin told that it was all worth the chance to satirize political pundits.

Martin Eisenstadt: Timeline of a Hoax

Mirvish said that while the Eisenstadt character eventually turned into a way for him and Gorlin to bring light to the media's overuse of anonymous sourcing and punditry, the idea initially grew out of the partners' desire to write a television series.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...