Interestingly, the New York Times casts the most blame on bloggers...but then proceeds to list the major mainstream media outlets that fell for and ran with the story - entities that should have a higher standard of sourcing than many blogs by far - thereby shaping our image of Sarah Palin.
Althouse notes she rejected the Eisenstadt-driven Palin/Africa tidbit off the bat. After the Couric interviews, I must say I was on a different page - I was not entirely surprised when television news outlets reported the fake Eisenstadt-the-McCain-staffer reports. It wasn't the content of Eisenstadt's assertion about Palin that made me wonder. When I first heard of Eisenstadt as something other than a shadowy source referenced by other larger media outlets, it was in the context of Andrew Sullivan's pulled post.
While I reiterated the MSM's fall for the hoax initially, I did so only indirectly later on. [UPDATE: The veracity of the Fox News report about Palin/Africa I cited originally has not actually been refuted by the Eisenstadt revelation - Fox apparently did not source the original story to Eisenstadt. This is getting rather confusing.] I wasn't really regurgitating Eisenstadt's ramblings in the latest instance; I was analyzing Andrew Sullivan's blogging. I googled for Eisenstadt in the context of Sullivan to see what was going on - and found nothing alarming (my search terms were too narrowly focused on what I was actually critiquing - Sullivan's posting relative to him). Because Sullivan hadn't put up a post or edited a post saying he had fallen for the hoax and warning others, I went ahead with my post thinking he had some other reason for silently pulling a post (although if you look at the text of my post, I was somewhat skeptical of Eisenstad's existence inherently - the Harding Institute sounded rather fakish...but I presumed it was some crazy, disgruntled McCain staffer at a low level who happened to get access during the campaign).
What to take away from all this? Well, I see this at least: Even if blogs were more apt to report the Eisenstadt comments, blogs that fell for the hoax but correct it prominently, as with this post, do less harm to the public's access to the truth than a mainstream media source that is expected to have greater credibility and standards. An MSM error ultimately reaches more people, and then, typically, makes a barely noticeable correction.