The garrulous and arrogant Obama aide Ben Rhodes spilled the beans on how the Obama White House plays the mainstream media like a marionette. Now the marionette press is busy dancing to the Obama White House line that it doesn’t tell the media what to say.
The New York Times’ profile of Rhodes was not intended to do any damage at all; it was effusive and gushed over the wonder boy it dubbed “Obama’s foreign-policy guru.” “Rhodes strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign,” according to Times reporter David Samuels. Indeed: Samuels’ profile showed that Obama, Rhodes, and other administration officials deliberately misled the public about the Iran deal.
Rhodes’ assistant Ned Price explained to Samuels how the Obama administration would “shape the news” by reaching out to friendly reporters and columnists: “We have our compadres, I will reach out to a couple people…I’ll say, ‘Hey, look, some people are spinning this narrative that this is a sign of American weakness,’ but — ” Samuels, himself a friendly reporter, finished his thought: “In fact it’s a sign of strength!” Price went on: “And I’ll give them some color, and the next thing I know, lots of these guys are in the dot-com publishing space, and have huge Twitter followings, and they’ll be putting this message out on their own.”
Nowhere was the media more thoroughly manipulated into presenting weakness and strength than with the Iran nuclear deal. Samuels reveals that “the way in which most Americans have heard the story of the Iran deal presented — that the Obama administration began seriously engaging with Iranian officials in 2013 in order to take advantage of a new political reality in Iran, which came about because of elections that brought moderates to power in that country — was largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal. Even where the particulars of that story are true, the implications that readers and viewers are encouraged to take away from those particulars are often misleading or false.”
The chief false and misleading aspect of Obama’s presentation of the deal to the American public was his claim that he was dealing with moderate elements of Iran’s Islamic regime – according to Samuels, a “narrative that Rhodes shaped.” Rhodes propagated the falsehood that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, elected in 2013, was a “moderate” who was struggling against “hard-liners” within the regime. Samuels describes this as “actively misleading,” and notes that “the idea that there was a new reality in Iran was politically useful to the Obama administration. By obtaining broad public currency for the thought that there was a significant split in the regime, and that the administration was reaching out to moderate-minded Iranians who wanted peaceful relations with their neighbors and with America, Obama was able to evade what might have otherwise been a divisive but clarifying debate over the actual policy choices that his administration was making.”
Samuels hears from no less an authority than former CIA director Leon Panetta that this was all a lie: “I ask him about a crucial component of the administration’s public narrative on Iran: whether it was ever a salient feature of the C.I.A.’s analysis when he ran the agency that the Iranian regime was meaningfully divided between ‘hard-line’ and ‘moderate’ camps.”
Panetta responded: “No. There was not much question that the Quds Force and the supreme leader ran that country with a strong arm, and there was not much question that this kind of opposing view could somehow gain any traction.”
The entire Obama case for the Iran deal was based on a lie.
“White House on damage control after aide’s magazine profile,” by Kathleen Hennessey, Associated Press, May 10, 2016:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Monday worked to contain the damage caused by one of President Barack Obama’s closest aides, who, in a seemingly candid, behind-the-curtain magazine story, ripped the Washington press corps, boasted of creating an “echo chamber” of supporters to sell the Iran nuclear deal and appeared to dismiss long-time foreign policy hands, including Hillary Clinton, as the Blob.
Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes’ comments to The New York Times Magazine have sparked a mix of bewilderment and outrage in Washington’s political and policy circles. While some marveled at a savvy White House aide’s apparent eagerness to discuss what some consider the ugly sausage making of modern governing, other noted he’d kicked up a hornet’s nest of a debate over whether the White House oversold the legacy-burnishing deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
The article revived criticism of the agreement. In a statement issued Monday, Sen. John McCain, a long-time critic of the Iran pact, said the piece “provided a troubling glimpse of the White House spin machine that has put sustaining ‘the narrative’ above advancing the national interest.”
The piece portrays Rhodes, Obama’s top foreign policy speechwriter and arguably one of his most influential aides, as singularly in tune with his boss’s thinking and narrowly focused on crafting a messaging machine to support it. It quotes Rhodes lamenting the ignorance of Washington reporters. (“They literally know nothing.”) And it describes Rhodes, a former aspiring novelist, as focused on crafting a storyline and dismissing facts that don’t fit.
Rhodes appears to try to keep secret news that Iran had seized 10 U.S. Navy sailors until after the president’s State of the Union speech. The article quotes Rhodes and his aides describing how they used social media, journalists and friendly interest groups to disseminate White House-generated talking points about the Iran deal.
“We created an echo chamber,” Rhodes said. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”
Of course they did. When has the mainstream media not been a lapdog for the Democratic Party establishment?