MSNBC Anchor Duped by Scoop

Thursday, November 13, 2008

MSNBC anchor David Shuster thought he had nailed one of the culprits leaking derogatory information about Sarah Palin to Fox News -- including such allegations as the Alaska governor's confusion over African geography.

"Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks," Shuster reported Monday.

Turns out that's wrong.

Shuster proceeded to interview two guests about the revelation on Eisenstadt's blog -- but Eisenstadt is a fictional creation.

So is the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy, the think tank with which he was allegedly associated, and so are the YouTube clips of the supposed scholar.

After other bloggers challenged his existence -- and other media outlets, including the New Republic, were taken in -- the New York Times reported yesterday that two filmmakers created Eisenstadt to help them pitch a TV show based on the character.

"The story was not properly vetted and should not have made air," MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines said. "We issued a correction on air within minutes of making the error."

-- Howard Kurtz

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