There’s enough confusion on this point that I feel obliged to throw Campaign Carl a lifeline, even though he probably doesn’t deserve it. What is true: “Martin Eisenstadt,” the McCain advisor who claimed to have fed FNC the scoop about Palin’s foreign policy idiocy, is a big fat hoax cooked up by a pair of tools to stir some buzz and torment lazy fact-checkers. What isn’t true: Speculation that “Eisenstadt” was indeed Cameron’s source and that CC got duped the same way MSNBC did. Tain’t so, per HuffPo:

However, while MSNBC — which ran with Eisenstadt’s story, along with The New Republic and Mother Jones — has retracted the story (that Eisenstadt was the McCain camp leak), Fox News won’t be retracting Carl Cameron’s original report about the Palin/Africa flap, because it did not come from Eisenstadt — which the Huffington Post was told on background earlier this week and which the filmmakers confirmed to TVNewser Thursday

The good news: Fox’s reporting on the smears isn’t based on a lie. The bad news: Fox’s reporting on the smears isn’t based on a lie — at least, not vis-a-vis the sourcing. As for Cameron, he admits to Howard Kurtz that “To the degree people thought I was enjoying my reporting — some thought I looked overenthusiastic — I may have blown the execution.” Which isn’t the issue at all; the issue is why he ran with scandalous allegations that are not only preposterous on their face, but which have since been challenged publicly by people in a position to know (as well as competing networks). Exit question: The same Kurtz piece quotes Mike Allen of Politico as saying this about his source for the infamous comment that Palin’s a “whack job.”

Allen says of the whack-job portrayal: “I found it illuminating because it came from an extremely senior McCain person, clearly reflecting the views of others in the inner circle. I would not have used it from the peanut gallery, internal or external.”

Who would qualify as “extremely senior”? Rick Davis, Schmidt, Salter… Anyone else?