“Chaffetz and the White House have been engaged in an escalating feud, all on the heels of a New York Times Magazine piece where Rhodes was quoted boasting about the administration’s success in crafting a public narrative for the Iran deal. The profile on Rhodes quotes him saying they built an ‘echo chamber’ of experts who sold that narrative to young, often inexperienced reporters.”
“Young, often inexperienced reporters”? No: reporters so in line with the administration ideologically that they were eager to do its bidding. The New York Times profile has Ben Rhodes’ assistant Ned Price explaining to compliant Times “journalist” David Samuels how the Obama administration would “shape the news” by reaching out to friendly reporters and columnists:
In this environment, Rhodes has become adept at ventriloquizing many people at once. Ned Price, Rhodes’s assistant, gave me a primer on how it’s done. The easiest way for the White House to shape the news, he explained, is from the briefing podiums, each of which has its own dedicated press corps. “But then there are sort of these force multipliers,” he said, adding, “We have our compadres, I will reach out to a couple people, and you know I wouldn’t want to name them — ”
“I can name them,” I said, ticking off a few names of prominent Washington reporters and columnists who often tweet in sync with White House messaging.
Price laughed. “I’ll say, ‘Hey, look, some people are spinning this narrative that this is a sign of American weakness,’ ” he continued, “but — ”
“In fact it’s a sign of strength!” I said, chuckling.
“And I’ll give them some color,” Price continued, “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.”
The point was not that they were young and inexperienced and thus easily manipulated; in fact, they’re “prominent Washington reporters and columnists.” The point was that they were “compadres.”
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.
In any case, the White House is clearly not allowing him to testify because he has already said too much, boasting about how the administration lied to the American people in order to sell the Iran nuke deal. There is nothing Rhodes can do to cover that up now, and given his loquacity and self-infatuation, he might end up making things even worse.