The two men who made up the fake John McCain adviser Martin Eisenstadt went on Reliable Sources this morning. Host Howard Kurtz aired a clip from MSNBC in which Eisenstadt was cited as being the source of a leak related to Gov. Sarah Palin. Kurtz asked filmmakers Dan Mirvish and Eitan Gorlin their reaction when MSNBC reported the news.
“I laughed out loud,” Mirvish said. “I mean, the funny part was we hadn’t even actively sent it to MSNBC. We had just posted this on our blog and they had found it on their own. Someone e-mailed it to a producer over there and they put it up. Which is funny because there were times over the course of our various other pranks that we had actively tried to get things onto air and into print but this wasn’t one of them. They just did it all on their own.”
The men also gave their take on the growing list of TV pundits:
KURTZ: Is the lesson here, the way that you guys have been able to pull this off, that the media are awfully gullible?
MIRVISH: That’s part of it. They’re gullible. They’ll believe anyone. If anyone had looked at our videos even for a minute or looked on our Web site, people would have known we were a hoax or a spoof or a satire for months. Just a little bit of research would have proven that out. But the other thing is that the 24 hour news cycle goes so fast and they really – they don’t always check and then the pundits they do have on, they are identified as “Republican strategist” or “Democratic strategist” and their only strategy seems to be picking out the red M&Ms at the green room on HARDBALL. Are these people any more qualified than the fake pundit we developed?
The entire transcript is after the jump…
KURTZ: And joining us now are the two filmmakers, in Los Angeles, Dan Mirvish and in New York, Eitan Gorlin.
Eitan Gorlin, so, is this how you guys get your kicks, by playing a prank that fools such reputable news organizations as MSNBC, “The New York Times” and “The New Republic”?
EITAN GORLIN, FILMMAKER: The short answer is probably yes. But it was â€“ if you look at it it was a much more elaborate ruse and it began with our fake Giuliani ads, morphed into the Marty Eisenstadt blog, and then him being interviewed on Iraqi television which was picked up by many prominent left wing blogs and it sort of continued up until after the campaign, after the election.
KURTZ: Dan Mirvish, let me play for you and remind our viewers what MSNBC anchor David Shuster reported after shall we say, falling for this latest spoof on your part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Who did tell Fox News that Palin could not identify the countries involved in NAFTA and that she thought Africa was a country instead of 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: That is the nonexistent Martin Eisenstadt. So Dan, after something like that aired, were you guys giving each other high fives?
DAN MIRVISH, FILMMAKER: I laughed out loud. I mean, the funny part was we hadnâ€™t even actively sent it to MSNBC. We had just posted this on our blog and they had found it on their own. Someone e-mailed it to a producer over there and they put it up. Which is funny because there were times over the course of our various other pranks that we had actively tried to get things onto air and into print but this wasnâ€™t one of them. They just did it all on their own.
KURTZ: And Eitan Gorlin, letâ€™s talk about the character. You became Martin Eisenstadt of the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy.
What was the key to making this fellow sound like a typical DC think tank guy?
GORLIN: Well, I channeled my own narcissistic personality disorder, so I think specifically the last Republican where Marty was followed around by a BBC journalist who then of course made a fool out of him and then he had to issue rebuttals defending his honor.
KURTZ: Is this how you see Washington pundits? Is this an exaggerated version of the people that you see on the screen?
GORLIN: Well, I think to a large extent, Dan and I spoke about this.
That itâ€™s people who probably in their own sense of self, they assume they would be ambassadors, they assume they would be congressmen but in the end they have to play these roles on TV.
KURTZ: Dan, what kind of TV show are you pitching based on this Eisenstadt character. I mean, HBO did a series called “K Street” in which I appeared for about 40 seconds which lasted eight episodes. I mean, could this find a mass audience?
MIRVISH: Well, I think if we get you in there for a few more episodes, that should help.
KURTZ: Call my agent.
MIRVISH: No, the interesting thing is that yearâ€™s TV season showed that “Saturday Night Live” got amazing ratings by doing â€“ by bringing back political satire and we might be a little bit responsible for that because we started to spread the rumor that Barack Obama was going to appear on the last episode.
But I think that showed that America has an appetite for political satire. Itâ€™s not just “The Daily Show” and “Colbert” but America wants to laugh at their politicians and more importantly laugh at their pundits.
KURTZ: But Eitan, when we watch “SNL” or “Colbert” or “Stewart” we know what weâ€™re getting. In this case you guys put together a fake Web site and phony YouTube videos. Journalists donâ€™t expect people to be engaging in that kind of fabrication. So is it really fair?
GORLIN: Well, you could ask that same question about anonymous leaks and anonymous sourcing in general. I think there are a lot of things â€“ and thatâ€™s something that Dan and I picked up on â€“ the extent to which the news is being report almost like celebrity gossip so I think there is a lot of information out there that people should be skeptical of.
KURTZ: Well, anonymous sources, Iâ€™ve criticized many times their use but at least most of the time they are real people who just donâ€™t want their names attached.
So let me go back to Dan. Is the lesson here, the way that you guys have been able to pull this off, that the media are awfully gullible?
MIRVISH: Thatâ€™s part of it. Theyâ€™re gullible. Theyâ€™ll believe anyone. If anyone had looked at our videos even for a minute or looked on our Web site, people would have known we were a hoax or a spoof or a satire for months. Just a little bit of research would have proven that out. But the other thing is that the 24 hour news cycle goes so fast and they really â€“ they donâ€™t always check and then the pundits they do have on, they are identified as “Republican strategist” or “Democratic strategist” and their only strategy seems to be picking out the red M&Ms at the green room on HARDBALL.
Are these people any more qualified than the fake pundit we developed?
KURTZ: So you developed a character who you think just the same way as the people we see on TV. Only he has a phony name and he doesnâ€™t really exist.
MIRVISH: There is that. Nonexistence shouldnâ€™t be a â€¦
KURTZ: You say we should not discriminate against nonexistent people. All right. Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish, thanks very much for joining us.
GORLIN: Thank you.
MIRVISH: Thank you.
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