The New York Times has a fun article up about two filmmakers who developed a fake public policy expert and advisor to the McCain campaign, Martin Eisenstadt, who’s been sourced by several news organizations (MSNBC, Los Angeles Times). Here’s a clip of Martin Eisenstadt responding to a non-existent BBC news documentary featuring him:
Here’s a clip of the same fake advisor being used as a source on MSNBC:
Besides being funny, I think the chief point is that in today’s always on media world where there’s a constant scramble for the the next story, publishers (whether news organizations or bloggers) fail to verify the provenance of a story. Likewise, it’s difficult for consumers of the story to easily check the veracity of the story.
Others have suggested that news organizations put up all their source material. The New York Times has begun to do this in some cases. Unfortunately, most news consumers don’t have the time to actually look at the sources themselves. Maybe the solution is an automated or algorithmic mechanism for verifying the provenance of a story. hmm….