Much humbled and slightly discredited, the news/blog machine emerged yesterday from sourcing errors and false leads connected to Sarah Palin and her geographical knowledge. Fresh from the election, rumors rained down about the former Vice Presidential candidate. Fox News and other prominent resources ran statements that the Alaska governor believed that Africa was a country, not a continent, and that she could not name the three countries that constitute NAFTA. "We are told..." begins the report on Fox News Wednesday the 5th, continuing that the information was kept off the record until after the election.
On Monday, stories ran that a former campaign adviser to John McCain was the proud source of stories. While this adviser and blogger , Martin Eisenstadt, and his position as Senior Fellow at the Harding Institute (whose slogan reads, "freedom isn't free"), are both fictitious, doubt did not appear until connections were made with Eisenstadt to his previous appearances as a Giuliani supporter and subject of YouTube BBC documentary "The Last Republican." The character of Eisenstadt was confirmed to be created by filmmaker Eitan Gorlin.
The fiasco does not have one source of blame, but rather a collective tunnel vision that values speed over accuracy. Perhaps industry lay-offs have first targeted fact-checkers, but journalistic ethics should remain a priority over news-worthiness. Indeed, the latter is entirely reliant on the former. Additionally, the polarizing effect that Palin has on the general population is perfect tinder for such rumors, while memories of her Katie Couric interview and Tina Fey's caricature serve as lingering sparks.
As for Palin, her frequent complaints and monosyllabic insults at the perpetrators of the story do little to foster confidence. Just as Couric said to the New York Post, the most improvement to her image could be accomplished by doing what she does extremely well: working hard. In regards to her political and global knowledge credibility, though, "the lady doth protest too much, methinks."