CNN thought it found the perfect human face to put on MySpace statistics and voter registration numbers it tried to use, in an American Morning segment, to prove that the popularity of Barack Obama had campus conservatives on the run at American colleges. USC's Eric Perlmutter, identified as a member of the College Republicans, was quoted saying "we try to get people out to our college Republican meetings... but we can't seem to get the same amount of support" as Obama. After the president of the USC College Republicans spoke up to say he had never met this guy, CNN issued a fairly damning correction:
A CNN spokeswoman admitted the error this evening in an e-mailed response: "Eric Perlmutter appeared on today's American Morning segment about young Republicans on college campuses. While he attends USC and says that he is a registered Republican, he was inadvertently identified on-screen as a member of the USC College Republicans organization.
"We regret that error. We have invited Ben Myers, the president of the USC College Republicans organization, to appear on American Morning at a future time."
But that still leaves a big question unanswered: What the hell sort of meetings is Perlmutter talking about if he's not a member of the College Republicans? He said he tried to get people to come to some sort of gathering, which implies he's part of some group. Why isn't this other group identified?
There has, predictably, been all sorts of speculation about what's really going on. Is this Eric Perlmutter related to a CNN producer with the same last name? And why does he sound so much like a source in a recent Washington Post story? Implication: Perhaps this source or his quotes were engineered by someone at CNN.
Which would be an insane thing to do because, come on, how hard is it to find an authentic quote about some uptight young student union senator being worried that liberal Barack Obama is more popular among young people than John McCain? According to the online story, someone already asked McCain about this very topic at a town hall meeting.
Hopefully there's a simple explanation for everything, because otherwise? Lamest media fabrication scandal ever.