Thursday, November 13, 2008

Macaca Moments
It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.
-from NY Times

This revelation didn't surprise me. I've suspected that motivated sorts with malicious and/or humorous intent were working to game the system. And with a mainstream media staffed with J-school pretty faces determined to report the very latest bits that confirm their biases we're pretty much guaranteed rampant information corruption. Too bad our democracy hinges upon our consumption of this fetid stinking tripe.

I've thought about the potential for Macaca Moments. You know, those bits where new media is employed to call out politicians in unflattering moments. As such bits have become increasingly potent in there ability to drive the media conversation for lengths of time, engineering such Macaca Moments is imperative. Indeed, my suspicions were raised several weeks back when the issue du jure was the burgeoning "hostility" in evidence at McCain/Palin rallies where YouTube clips seemingly recorded spectators shouting epithets and threats. In such clips there's no way to vet whether the spectator shouting such epithets was in fact a McCain supporter. They could just as easily have been someone opposed to McCain who knew (perhaps even staged) that the camera-phones were rolling and let lose with the invective. Yet the media discussion revolving around the clips suggested that the McCain/Palin rallies had incited anti-Obama hatred. For practitioners of guerrilla media, having the MSM take the bait and froth at the mouth over such horrors (when it could just as easily be illusion) is indeed mission accomplished. Especially when the other side (the one favored by the guerrillas) stands to benefit from the media gnashing its teeth.

Clearly We the People need to be on guard for such as it will get worse - much worse. Will our democracy survive our media when our media is so easily gamed?


At 9:48 AM, Blogger Brian said...

While I can not say I was suspicious of the allegations, it did strike me as strange that someone would voluntarily go on the record saying that Palin didn't know Africa was a continent. I have to imagine that career campaign staffers are always looking to get on the next campaign and it seemed like career suicide to show your disloyalty publicly to your previous "boss" and that you can't be trusted.

But the thing I find funny about the hoax is, if it was any other politician, people wouldn't have treated it seriously, but with Palin, people basically said: "That doesn't surprise me."

Then to make matters worse, Palin didn't come right out and say "I KNOW AFRICA IS A CONTINENT", she came out with some babble about probably being taken out of context and those people are "jerks"... which to most people equals: "She's giving us some sort of runaround so it could be true."

Palin's issue now is, she can go on till she's blue in the face about the "gotcha" media, but her image is set in stone in the majority of the public's mind.

At 8:39 PM, Blogger Granite said...

he post wasn't necessarily about Palin, but ypur point is well taken. One thing that is fodder for another discussion is as a public official on the national stage you have to quickly get schooled on the art of speaking Washington-ese if you want to buffer yourself. There's a whole catalog of non-answers that are handy to employ when dealing with the MSM. In many ways this is how Biden gets away with his buffoonery year over year. If Palin is a buffoon, she'll need to learn this art quick in order to have a future. If Palin is not a buffoon, she'll still need to learn the art of Washington-ese all the same because that's the language of our mainstream politics.

Anyway, this speaks to a larger point of how quickly a media narrative can be constructed by a lot of garbage. Answers given to explain things that never happened (but the questions suggests they did). It reminds me of the whole Scooter Libby thing. All the media chasing their tails about white house incidents that never happened. And then people gave answers based on the media narrative. None of it was based in reality. Its like the "McGuffin" in the movies.

At 11:45 PM, Blogger gagknee said...

i hate that nobody can speak candidly or with emotion or conviction anymore. it reminds me of every interview nomar ever gave, "we went out and battled out there. we just gotta forget about tomorrow and concentrate on today." everybody's afraid of saying whats on their mind because they're afraid its going to get used against them.


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