Monday, November 17, 2008

The Palin Hoax

This story in the New York Times got me to thinking...

"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."
Are there more hoaxes out there in other realms of information? - of that I am pretty sure, but my focus is the visual arts and thus my question to myself is: could such a hoax be executed in the fine arts?

I don't think so, and the reason that I don't think so is because unlike the need to demonize our political opponents that exist in places like Fox and MSNBC, the fine arts world is sort of a self-licking ice cream where 95% of the people who pay attention to it and want a lick at the ice cream are somehow involved in the art world itself, and very few are interested "outsiders," who are the ones needed to consume such a hoax and spread it eagerly.

And I'm not sure if the people who write about art lack the very basic "check the story" and "check it again" mentality of the political press, always frothing at the mouth to report something negative about the other side.

And of course, news outlets generally could give a rat's ass about the fine arts unless it involves some sort of scandal, sex, censure or shock.



Rob Jones said...

Does the Yale art student - Aliza Shvarts - hoax count? That one got a lot of press outside the fine arts world.
- Rob

Lenny said...

Ooooh... that's a good example...

Mark Cameron Boyd said...

Great post - and it got me thinking: one of my favorite artists, Yves Klein, released a photograph of himself appearing to "Leap into the Void" out of a second-story window, that he had printed up in his own newspaper, creating quite a stir with the French public. Photo was a composite hoax. When Carl Andre exhibited bricks at the Tate back in the '70s, the English press attacked it viciously, bringing it to public attention.

Certainly there are a lot of "hoaxes" playing out right now (Damien Hirst's "Skull" purchase & his "auction", Martin Creed's success, the "bad boy" status of Dash Snow, et al) but we probably won't be "let in on the joke" for a few years. And the YouTube "artists" are just getting started.