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November 14, 2008

Fake Pundit Dupes Real Media

Martin Eisenstadt, the punditing fictional creation of filmmakers Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish, has gotten quite a bit of press lately, especially for someone who doesn't exist. He claimed to be—though he was not—the source of the infamous Sarah-Palin-thought-Africa-was-a-country rumor. He also implied, on his phony blog, that Joe the Plumber had a tryst with SNL cast member Kristin Wiig, and that the Hiltons were angry over John McCain's "celebrity" ad. And he was the star of some seemingly pro-Giuliani YouTube clips that received an inordinate amount of attention last year.

Dan Mirvish

Dan Mirvish

Gelf sent some questions to Mirvish and Gorlin, and Mirvish replied. Here's what he had to say:

Gelf Magazine: What are your thoughts on the recent NY Times piece about the character and the apparently false information the character blogged about?
Dan Mirvish: It was a good piece. I think it pretty well summed up what we've been up to, but of course, it's all just the tip of the iceberg.

GM: How do you feel about some of the other info the media picked up from the blog? Why do you think this happened?
DM: We discovered along the way (especially first with our stories about how the Obama daughters love the "terror-loving, keffiyeh wearing" Jonas Brothers, and then with the Paris Hilton story) that if you combine politics and celebrity, the stories get more resonance. Also, celebrity blogs are even less rigorous in their sourcing than political ones.

GM: What's next for the character?
DM: Hard to say. With an Obama administration around the corner, it's worth noting that Eisenstadt is friendly with John Podesta. Also, the Institute is just finishing up a recruiting project for the Department of Defense. We should be unveiling it next week sometime.

GM: What was the point of all this?
DM: It's a social satire on the punditocracy.

GM: Are you surprised that the character was taken somewhat seriously?
DM: No. There's very little difference between a fake pundit who actually did make real news and actually did go out and campaign for McCain, and the so-called real pundits who call themselves Republican or Democratic "strategists" who sit in their air-conditioned offices, and whose only strategies consist of how to pick out the red M&Ms in the Hardball green room.

GM: Do you think you some ethical lines may have been crossed by taking credit for the Palin/Africa story?
DM: No. I do find it ethically dubious when so-called pundits or consultants speak anonymously to discredit Palin or anyone else only to further their career, and then Fox News or other journalists are locked into protecting their sources. No journalist wants to be the next Matt Cooper or Judith Miller who twisted in the wind while Scooter Libby used them for political purposes and then got his sentence commuted.

GM: How about spreading the rumor about Joe the Plumber and Kristen Wiig?
DM: If anyone took that seriously, they should have had their heads examined. If they did get together, then good for them. And if not, well… as we told the curt NBC publicist last week, Kristen Wiig's IMDB starmeter rating will go up 100 points. Sure enough it did. So she's happy, her agent's happy, and probably her boyfriend's happy that she didn't really canoodle Joe. And guess what, Joe the Plumber should be the next Bachelor, so if it helps him too, then why not. We hope he does get an agent at Endeavor (which, of course, is run by Rahm Emmanuel's brother). It would be a good bipartisan gesture.

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