Apparently, it bears repeating that fact-checking is still necessary more necessary now than ever.

Case in point: Martin Eisenstadt.

He’s the McCain advisor who doesn’t exist, but who nonetheless was quoted by journalists at Mother Jones, The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times, MSNBC and some other MSM outlets. Eisenstadt was most recently said to be the source of the startling pronouncement that Sarah Palin doesn’t know Africa is a continent (this is not true, and still no one knows who is responsible for that little gem).

Eisenstadt is worse than the fake memoir girl because at least she’s a real flesh-and-blood person, but there is no Eisenstadt, and there is no “institute” that he runs. He’s just an unemployed actor.

Now, as a fact-checker, I can say unequivocally that there is no excuse for being taken in by someone such as the pranksters who created the character Martin Eisenstadt. The reason is, everyone learns in Journalism 101 that you never rely on one source for a story (unless that source is only talking about himself or herself, and even then, you interview other people who know them).

Everyone’s blaming this on the rush, in the 24-7-365 news cycle, to get the story first. That is just the symptom of the problem. The problem is that we have foregone accuracy in favor of speed, and that many of the people producing news either never learned how to fact-check, or never necessarily benefited from getting it right.

A simple call to someone in the McCain campaign to verify Eisenstadt’s position on the team would have put rest to this long ago.

Similarly, an Accurint on Martin Eisenstadt that matches the name and date of birth that the man said belonged to him would have let you know that he does not, in fact, exist.

This is what I mean by “our product is not good enough.” Every day there are apologies for very, very large mistakes; mistakes that tend to wear away at reader confidence and mistakes that tend to further erode the respectability of the profession.

Turns out, rightly, that the guys behind the hoax actually sought to discredit the news media. Kudos to them for having the cojones to go up against that kind of legal heft.

Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Mirvish say the blame lies not with them but with shoddiness in the traditional news media and especially the blogosphere.

“With the 24-hour news cycle they rush into anything they can find,” said Mr. Mirvish, 40.

Mr. Gorlin, 39, argued that Eisenstadt was no more of a joke than half the bloggers or political commentators on the Internet or television.

I question whether Gorlin actually said this, and whether the Times writer doesn’t have a bias that’s showing. Whoever actually blames the blogosphere for this seems to have forgotten that it was a who blogger blew the whistle on Eisenstadt, not a member of the MSM.

For all those who think bloggers are “not real journalists” or who would blame the blogs for the rushed news cycle, this must feel like a cold slap-in-the-face.

And then there is William K. Wolfrum, a blogger who has played Javert to Eisenstadt’s Valjean, tracking the hoaxster across cyberspace and repeatedly debunking his claims. Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Mirvish praised his tenacity, adding that the news media could learn something from him.”

In all honesty…