Sunday, October 25, 2009

When a Hoax Is Something To Worry About

One of my commenters made me aware of Rush Limbaugh falling for a hoax regarding Obama's college thesis. I hadn't heard about it because, believe it or not, conservatives don't listen to Rush all the time. But I found it interesting because I was watching CNN this morning and Howard Kurtz (who happens to be one of the few journalist I respect on CNN) was exasperated with another hoax.

Remember back during the presidential campaign when MSNBC reported that that someone "inside the McCain campaign" had leaked that Sarah Palin didn't know that Africa was a continent? Well, the "insider" was Martin Eisenstadt, a person who actually doesn't exist. That's right. The leaks that were smearing Palin was a joke, a hoax.

Not only did David Shuster of MSNBC report the smear, but to this day people still spread that lie about Palin. Shuster even identified the non existent person in another newscast as a "McCain Policy Advisor, Martin Eisenstadt" reporting that he had come "forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks.”

Sure, anyone can fall for a hoax. But as people delight in the fact that Rush fell for one, they might want to think about the fact that Rush is just a talk show host, and David Shuster is supposedly a journalist reporting the hard news. When a journalist is quoting a non existent person it means that they didn't bother to check out the person at all. It's called Journalism 101.

This is why people don't trust the media.

Update: Ryan tells me that Rush didn't fall for the hoax but used it as an example of how they misquoted him. That sounds more like it. But since I didn't hear it, I can't judge.