First there was the unmasking of Martin Eisenstadt. On Nov. 10, David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor, was on air with this statement about who among Republican presidential candidate John McCain's camp was whispering that Sarah Palin didn't know Africa was a continent. "Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks." Eisenstadt was identified as a senior fellow at a think tank known as the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy -- only there is no such person. Eisenstadt is the fictional creation of filmmakers Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish and, along with MSNBC, they have successfully fooled The New Republic, Mother Jones and the Los Angeles Times in the past year.
Then there was the spoof edition of The New York Times that circulated Nov. 12 bearing the date July 4, 2009, and the headline "Iraq War Ends." Copies were distributed in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington. The fake paper, which also has its own website, was the result of six months of planning by pranksters who were given software and web support from a group known as the Yes Men. A statement from the Yes Men said: "1.2 million papers were printed at six different presses and driven to prearranged pickup locations, where thousands of volunteers stood ready to pass them out on the street."
The spoof carried 14 pages of news and ads that reflected how the pranksters hoped the world would look after six months under President-elect Barack Obama. It also served as a warning of sorts, with one fake HSBC ad playing off its perception-themed print ads that featured a picture of Obama with three words superimposed: "epoch-making," "pivotal," "squandered." The copy reads, "The more we look at the world, the more we understand some things really matter. Not only our choice of president, but making sure he, like all elected officials, do what we elected him to do. It's not over."
Here's hoping the fakery is.