Bill O'Reilly of FOX News ran a story with Carl Cameron citing unnamed sources with outrageous claims including that Governor Palin didn't know that Africa was a continent, but thought Africa was a country. Martin Eisenstadt refers to himself as Marty on his own blog, and posted today that he was the unnamed source of Carl Cameron. He also claims that he worked on McCain's campaign as a foreign policy adviser.
As a journalist, I fully understand the danger of using unnamed sources. Protecting sources and breaking news from "insiders" can be a hard line to walk. Knowing the difference between gutter gossip and news should be a no brainer, and gutter gossip without named sources should be left to amateurs and hacks.
According to Newsbusters
In June 2008 blogger William K. Wolfum concluded that "M. Thomas Eisenstadt (who originally started a blog named www.michaeleisenstadt.com and was referred to as "Michael") was a hoax. As was his "think tank" called "The Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy" (which seems to be a joke, being that Warren G. Harding is widely considered to be one of the worst Presidents in U.S. history)." After being outed, the "biographical" note was changed to "Martin Eisenstadt."
MSNBC fell for the Marty self-outing
and reported it on their station, even supplying a Republican Strategist to come on air and discuss the issue.
There are two major issues at play here, folks.
First of all, any news organization interested in having credibility needs to use careful judgment in what stories are worth covering without named sources, and which are not. The journalists of these organizations need to be willing to accept the full weight of consequences to their career when using their sources. I personally broke a story here about Newt Gingrich
considering a run for RNC Chairman with unnamed sources. If I didn't trust my sources, I would not have run the strory in fear of being dropped by Digital Journal like a hot potato. (notice I spell it with no "e") That report has been confirmed by other news sources, just three days later.
Secondly, The Internet is full of dedicated and reputable journalists like those found here at Digital Journal. It is folks like "Marty" who not just destroy the credibility of journalists using unnamed sources, but they insult each and every one of us who take this duty seriously. HOAXster's like Marty need to be called out and rejected by journalists everywhere, and those who fall for these hoaxes need to learn their lesson.
Fox News needs to come out quickly and either confirm or deny Marty's claims that he is the one who leaked the "inside scoop" on Governor Palin. The American people deserve truth in their news, and we need to demand just that.