Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is Sarah Palin's Refrigerator Running?

I'm always amazed at the tendency of people to assume that material on the Internet is truthful. I would hope that readers of this blog, who would cite content from its electronic pages, would check to make sure that I really am who I claim to be, perhaps by checking a university directory or vetting me with other academic bloggers who know me from my face-to-face presence at conferences.

Nonetheless, as the New York Times reports in "A Senior Fellow at the Institute of Nonexistence," a couple of Internet hoaxsters managed to convince not only pseudojournalistic bloggers but also at least one cable news station that a fictional neocon from the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy was the source for the leak that claimed Sarah Palin told debate coaches that she thought Africa was a country. Unlike the Hoover Institution, the Harding Institute's bare-bones website has several clues that it is a fake. Furthermore, literary bloggers at Shakespeare's Sister (now known as Shakesville) revealed months ago that this supposedly high-profile conservative expert wasn't the man he was purported to be.

Nonetheless, the multimedia campaign of the character that they had created, Martin Eisenstadt, with his own YouTube channel and blog, managed to take in a number of so-called journalists who were eager to have damaging revelations supposedly from within the McCain campaign occupy their cameras.

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