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The Latest in Political News Fakery

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, November 13 2008

(In an experiment, we're going to be pulling selected items from the Daily Digest and posting them as stand-alone posts. Good idea? Bad idea? Let us know in the comments.)

News Fakery: "McCain Advisor Martin Eisenstadt" Edition: The idea that Sarah Palin didn't know that Africa is a continent has been a post-election albatross around her neck, and so some in the media have been eager to ferret out the source of that all-too-juicy story. McCain campaign advisor Martin Eisenstadt of the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy has stepped forward to acknowledge himself as its source. Quite the scoop! And the mainstream press and bloggers ran with it. Except, of course, there's no such thing as the Harding Institute and Eisenstadt doesn't exist either. The fake "Martin" is happy to be uncovered. "A smell of fishiness has crept into the whole story," he writes on his faux-blog, of what has always been a rather suspect anecdote.

News Fakery: "Iraq War Ends" Edition: Fake editions of the New York Times were distributed on the streets of New York, Chicago, LA, and other cities yesterday, declaring an end of the Iraq War and reporting other good news, like "High-Speed Internet Hits Fast Track to Appalachia" by one B. Vannevar. (Clever.) Accompanying the print edition was a spot-on website. Playing good sports, the New York Times dutifully reported on the elaborate hoax. Their Sewell Chan reports that a loose-knit group of collaborators "financed the paper with small online contributions and created the paper to urge President-elect Barack Obama to keep his campaign promises."