Accuracy in Media

A recent article by David Samuels for the New York Times Magazine demonstrates how President Obama and his Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes have been exploiting the media’s willingness to repeat and promote the Obama administration narrative of the day. In the interview Rhodes irreverently nicknames the foreign policy establishment “the Blob” and states that most reporters the administration deals with on foreign affairs are only 27 years old and know nothing. The Blob includes not only top media people, but also “Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and other Iraq war promoters from both parties who now whine incessantly about the collapse of the American security order in Europe and the Middle East.”

Carlos Lozada of The Washington Post describes the Times’ piece as so sycophantic that it has become “gross” through excess chumminess, hypocrisy and absurdity. For example, Lozada writes, “It is the blindness of a writer who declares that Rhodes is ‘not an egotist’ while offering countless examples of that subject’s gargantuan self-regard, and not bothering to note the contradiction.”

Michael Grunwald has also criticized Samuels in an article for Politico. His point is that Samuels is a hawk who opposed the Iran deal, and ignored the nuances in the Rhodes/Obama foreign policy, which Grunwald clearly finds admirable.

Samuels praises Rhodes as the “Boy Wonder of the White House,” and describes how Rhodes sold the press a false story about how the Iran deal negotiations came after President Hassan Rouhani and the “moderate” Iranians came to power. In reality, President Obama was looking for a deal with Iran before he was elected to office, something that Rhodes later had to admit. It turns out that there were no moderate Iranian leaders for the administration to work with—before or after the deal.

In fact, former Ambassador William G. Miller confirmed to author and historian Michael Ledeen that Obama sent Miller to Iran as a secret back-channel emissary during Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Miller was to inform the Iranian leaders that if they wait for Obama to become president, “they would be very happy with his policies.”

As to the moderation of the new Iranian regime, “He [Rouhani] has presided over a steady uptick of executions of Iran’s dissidents, as well as sexual and religious minorities,” reports David Reaboi for The Federalist.

According to Samuels, Rhodes’ gift is that he is “adept at constructing overarching plotlines with heroes and villains, their conflicts and motivations supported by flurries of carefully chosen adjectives, quotations and leaks from named and unnamed senior officials.”

In other words, Rhodes sold carefully crafted and prepackaged soundbites about Iran to the press to create a narrative that did not match the facts. Relying on such soundbites doesn’t make for informative reporting, and isn’t truthful. It is pure propaganda.

Now Rhodes’ loose tongue threatens to sully what the press sees as the President’s signature foreign policy achievement, the Iran deal. Most reporters refuse to mention—or are not aware—that the so-called Iran deal was never even signed. Thus, there is no Iran deal that both sides have agreed upon.

Rhodes quickly backtracked after Samuels’ article was published:

“The critical point that the deal’s opponents are missing in the current debate is that we believed deeply in the case that we were making: about the effectiveness of the deal, about the value of diplomacy and about the stakes involved,” Rhodes wrote in his own defense after Samuels’ controversial interview was published. “It wasn’t ‘spin,’ it’s what we believed and continue to believe, and the hallmark of the entire campaign was to push out facts.”

Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said, referring to Rhodes, “I’m confident he would say it differently if he had the chance.”

“Rhodes bragged to Samuels that he had manipulated the news media into publishing stories supporting the White House on the Iran talks,” notes Fred Fleitz for National Review. “Rhodes made use of ‘legions of arms control experts [who] began popping up at think tanks and on social media’ and became ‘sources for hundreds of clueless reporters,’” Fleitz writes. “According to Rhodes, this crop of newly minted experts cheerlead for the nuclear deal and, like ventriloquists’ dummies, ‘were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.’”

We have consistently reported on the administration’s use of false narratives to sell policies to the press, and thereby the American people. For example, it was the Obama administration that argued Congress’ choice for an Iran deal was between war and supporting a disastrous agreement that would eventually grant Iran nuclear weapons. The mainstream media then reported this as the only two options regarding Iran.

Rhodes’ fingerprints were all over this effort. “It was Rhodes who framed the Iran deal as a choice between peace and war,” wrote Lee Smith for The Weekly Standard, continuing, “and it was Rhodes who set up a messaging unit to sell the deal that created an ‘echo chamber’ in the press.”

The question many are asking is why Rhodes, the brother of the president of CBS News, would go public with these views—and hang people out to dry who were helping the Obama administration deceitfully sell the Iran deal to Congress and the public. Was it pride, arrogance, a chummy trust that Samuels wouldn’t write anything that made Rhodes look bad, or was he drinking too much?

Smith, who is with both The Weekly Standard and The Hudson Institute, has written a fascinating follow-up piece on that angle of the story, and about how The Washington Post, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Laura Rozen of Al-Monitor—all part of the “echo chamber”—have reacted to having their reputations besmirched, and having missed the scoop. Smith’s piece, “The Ben Rhodes Blow-up,” attempts to explain why Rhodes would “attack allies who helped the White House push through Obama’s signature foreign policy accomplishment?”

Smith writes, “For the same reason that anonymous White House officials called the prime minister of Israel ‘chickenshit.’ For the same reason that Obama called American partners ‘free riders.’ For the same reason Obama shamed the leaders of two of America’s closest allies, France and the United Kingdom, in public. Because that’s what this president and this White House is about, humiliating allies and friends. Why would it treat its own Iran Deal echo chamber any better?”

Remember, it was also Rhodes who authored the Benghazi “smoking gun” email which sought as a goal to “underscore” that the attacks that killed four Americans resulted from “protests [that] are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”

Smith argues that Samuels’ piece on Rhodes exposes that “the emotion driving the administration’s foreign policy is contempt—contempt for allies, colleagues, and the generations of American policymakers who built the post-WWII international order, ensuring relative global stability, and peace and prosperity at home.”

What matters to the administration and the press is not reporting the truth, but instead a convenient narrative that will cement President Obama’s foreign policy legacy.

Rhodes and his deputy Ned Price openly boasted about their powers in front of Samuels. “Price turns to his computer and begins tapping away at the administration’s well-cultivated network of officials, talking heads, columnists and newspaper reporters, web jockeys and outside advocates who can tweet at critics and tweak their stories backed up by quotations from ‘senior White House officials’ and ‘spokespeople,’” writes Samuels.

By quoting anonymous White House officials, the mainstream media need not identify the source of their information. Instead, the public is expected to trust that these anonymous officials operate beyond self-interest. As Samuels’ feature exposes, such trust is very much misplaced.

If, as they seem to brag, Rhodes and his aides are so fully manipulating the mainstream media, the press cannot be trusted, either.

Much as one might censure Rhodes for manipulating the media, it is really President Obama himself who is responsible for the spin coming out of the White House. Samuels writes that Rhodes spends two to three hours daily with the President and “mind melds” with him on many issues. It is President Obama’s policies, aspirations, and reputation on the line when Rhodes acts. It is no wonder, then, that many in the media are willing to repeat the lies coming from this administration.

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  • missieb2000

    The msm are like abused spouses that just won’t leave.
    Be like Tina. Beat Ike half to death and leave the limo behind.


    Just how many of these arrogant jackasses need to come right out and brag about how they have lied to everyone about everything Obama has done or said from the time he first started to campaign for office before the clueless morons that voted for him finally see them all for what they really are? It is really incredible that anyone still thinks he and his minions are in anyway good or honest people. It is just as incredible that a large number of women are willing to vote for Hillary just because she is a woman. She is as much pro women’s rights as Obama is pro American democracy. Trump’s war on women is based on his fights with loud mouth Rosie O’Donald, she gave as good as she got and nothing was said to her that she didn’t deserve. The arguments with Megan Kelly were started by her, if you attack people you can expect them to fight back, if you don’t like it, don’t start it.

  • Richard Hellstrom

    Do you have a higher opinion of Kim Jung Un or George Soros – ? I think Kim Jung Un easily beats Soros by a landslide but …………..
    I hope by the time the presidential election rolls around that Trump will refocus his attention on the political lobby system – The Democrats are being funded by a guy named George Soros who says he hates America and wants to
    destroy the economy through mass immigration , he wants to destroy the dollar , he wants to destroy Wall Street and that he prefers communist Red China over America and is known around the world as an economic war criminal.
    He’s gone from having 9 billion dollars at the start of the Obama administration to having 24 billion dollars today ! Theirs no telling when the last time was that he paid taxes and it’s estimated he owes the American government about 7
    Billion dollars ! He states he wants to turn the sovereignty of the American government over to a foreign empowerment !!! He’s also creating the same kind of destruction across Europe and pretty well owns the ICC . I don’t know why
    Homeland Security and NSA doesn’t allow Kim Jung UN to donate to 526 different Democratic organizations during an election – He hates America and wants to destroy it too ! Why don’t we just elect Kim Jung Un and get it over with ?
    Woodrow Wilson wrote —– There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, born under other flags but welcomed under our generous naturalization laws to the full freedom and opportunity of America, who have poured the
    poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life; who have sought to bring the authority and good name of our Government into contempt, to destroy our industries wherever they thought it effective for their vindictive purposes to
    strike at them, and to debase our politics to the uses of foreign intrigue … – Clinton took 8 million dollars for her campaign from Soros and he’s also funding Bernie Sanders –

  • IronChefSandwiches

    “I think Kim Jung Un easily beats Soros by a landslide but …………..” Then you’re a blithering idiot.
    “a guy named George Soros who says he hates America and wants to
    destroy the economy through mass immigration” That’s a lie, pure and simple.
    “he wants to destroy the dollar , he wants to destroy Wall Street and
    that he prefers communist Red China over America and is known around the
    world as an economic war criminal.” Now you’re babbling like a crazy person.
    “He’s gone from having 9 billion dollars at the start of the Obama administration to having 24 billion dollars today !” Yet, according to you morons, Obama is a Communist. Hmmm. Why do you hate financial success, Commie?
    “Theirs (sic) no telling when the last time was that he paid taxes” Actually, there is. He pays taxes just like everyone else. YOU may not have access to his returns, but they WERE filed. Arguing otherwise is just plain stupid.
    “He states he wants to turn the sovereignty of the American government over to a foreign empowerment !!!” Another total lie.
    “He’s also creating the same kind of destruction across Europe and pretty well owns the ICC” This is demented and hysterically false.
    I could go on, but what’s the point. You are nothing but a delusional moron who’s been so thoroughly brainwashed that you type VERY easily disproven nonsense over and over. I would give a month’s pay to be in the room on election night when it becomes obvious that Trump is losing by a country mile to Hilary Clinton. I don’t like the Clintons. But watching your face would be priceless.

  • IronChefSandwiches

    So much nonsense here but I’ll stick to the most obviously stupid thing you said.

    Megyn Kelly is a JOURNALIST. It’s her JOB to ask hard questions, ESPECIALLY to political candidates. She started nothing. Trump’s ridiculously thin skin is 100% at fault for their “feud”.

  • Richard Hellstrom

    Maybe before you try to be the mouth piece for George Soros you should read his own quotes or at least know
    what to hell your talking about – Theirs so many idiots like you online it isn’t funny – Soros would laugh in your face and tell you that it’s all true – So why don’t you impose what you really want to do and promote the Democratic Party ! You could of attacked the republican party or at least made some kind of argument that makes sense ! Your entire argument is based on wet farts ! See Articles –
    The Center for American Progress’ Jihad Against the Free World – December 29, 2011 Daniel Greenfield – Bernie’s Billionaires — Cliff Kincaid — August 24, 2015 – The Hidden Soros Agenda: Drugs, Money, the Media, and Political Power –
    Cliff Kincaid — October 27, 2004 – Top 10 Reasons George Soros Is Dangerous by Human Events – George Soros and John Kerry – 2015/11/02/ London – — Soros-admits-involvement-in-migrant-crisis-national-borders-are-the-obstacle/ –
    —-Soros: National Borders Are The Enemy -November 3, 2015 Matthew Vadum — George Soros donates $8 million to boost Hillary —-The radical billionaire denounces his native Hungary for protecting its borders and culture. —
    — No, George Soros Didn’t Give $33 Million to # Black Lives Matter by Ben Collins at the Daily Beast –
    Soros Owns the Court Indicting Bashir

  • Gz7

    Kelly a journalist? Hahahahahahaha! Please, stop!

  • Vicky O’Dell

    Are you on Drugs? What is wrong with you? Something seriously dude you need to go trun yourself in to a hospital. You a teacher? No way! Teachers don’t talk like this!q

  • Sally Smith

    Anyone who is surprised at the NYT article on Rhodes is an idiot.

    There’s a new book out about Obama called “1,202 well sourced examples of Barack Obama’s lying, lawbreaking, corruption, cronyism, hypocrisy, waste, etc.”

    It’s available at

  • IronChefSandwiches

    She’s a hell of a lot more of a journalist than Trump is a president. Seriously, man. You idiots want him to be president and he can’t take the heat of a Fox “News” softball interview? Sheesh, you people are sad.

  • IronChefSandwiches

    Oh….dude. Linking to articles on larouchepub and written by Kincaid? That’s just pathetic.

  • Gz7

    You obviously missed the first debate and have no idea what took place.

  • IronChefSandwiches

    You obviously live in a right wing fantasy land.

  • Gz7

    You obviously think your clever. Sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t like liberals with nothing to offer but schoolyard phrases. Does your mother know your using her computer?

  • Richard Hellstrom

    Look – Soros is very open about his policies and desire to create mass immigration in America and Europe as well as his other ideas to destroy America and Europe – If your just looking for a boyfriend – George Soros is married and he’s over 80 years old ! Don’t believe the articles ? Send him an email and ask him ! He’s very honest ! But stop bothering me with your desires of seeing the poor guy in a Bikini ! What is it with you people – Some one will come right out on TV and say something one day and the very next your have million of you idiots online denying hoping it won’t hurt the Democratic vote !

  • judyjudy

    I think you need to get your head out of “where the sun don’t shine”!!! Any one can write what you did…Prove what you are saying, how do you KNOW that he paid taxes? How do you KNOW everything that you said.

  • IronChefSandwiches

    What utter BS. I’M the one that has to offer proof. NOT the guy who claimed Soros hasn’t paid taxes? Is that really how pathetic you people are? You make baseless accusations and then DEMAND proof that you’re wrong. That’s not how it works. Back up your bulls**t or STFU.

  • IronChefSandwiches

    “Soros is very open about his policies and desire to create mass
    immigration in America and Europe as well as his other ideas to destroy
    America and Europe”

    And your only sources are the rambling opinion piece of right wing conspiracy nutjobs. Dude. Prove it or shut the f**k up.

  • Richard Hellstrom

    Your a teacher ! Where ? I want to talk to your employers ! I wouldn’t let you stand in the back yard with my dog !
    Soros on Taxes – Another very common issue with hedge fund operators –

  • IronChefSandwiches

    Wow. You claimed he didn’t pay taxes and then you post article discussing the taxes that he pays. Not. Too. Bright. And it’s “you’re”.

  • Richard Hellstrom

    Now where is it that you teach ? Lets see if the board of education in your state can determine and re access your qualifications to be around children –

  • jmk

    So far he has revealed he is an Honors Chemistry teacher in Gary, Indiana, which means of course he believe in that climate change crap. I don’t know if he’s stupid enough to reveal which school, but you’ll never know. He is stupid enough to keep his profile public.

  • IronChefSandwiches

    Stay classy, dude.

  • A_Cole

    do you ever notice that when someone has nothing intelligent to contribute to a discussion, he always personally attacks the party with whom he disagrees?

  • A_Cole

    “I’M the one that has to” should be “I’m the one who has to”. There should be a question mark after “offer proof?” Once again, when libs have nothing intelligent to add to a discussion, they personally attack the other party. So, aside from being completely ignorant about the subject matter, you also appear to have quite a temper. tsk. tsk.

  • A_Cole

    Goodness, still nothing intelligent to contribute. my, my.

  • A_Cole

    All you do is repeat other people’s statements and then tell them to “shut the f**k up”. So, you continue to have nothing intelligent to contribute to the discussion, you’re rude, and you’re a coward. If you had any balls at all, you would spell out your curse words like a man. Wow, you have no idea what a fool you are making of yourself. So sad……

  • A_Cole

    Well, if Richard is not too bright, then I guess you met your match!

  • A_Cole

    How much do you want to bet, Richard, he is either living in his mother’s basement or he’s a freshman at college who is high on being living somewhere other than his mother’s basement?

  • A_Cole

    There’s no way he is a teacher! He can’t spell. His punctuation is terrible. His sentence structure is equivalent to that of a third grader’s. He has a real anger problem. He has absolutely no idea about how to rationally and maturely discuss a topic. No – he is a high school junior most likely – a college freshman at most.

  • terry1956

    It would not be to much to ask if both you and Richard provided sources on Soros taxes.

  • terry1956

    Kincaid often a good source,Larouche rarely.

  • terry1956

    Actually Soros is open about his desire for a borderless world although he may think falsely that would be a good thing.

  • Richard Hellstrom

    If he’s is a teacher , he should act like he’s got a little decorum ! I wouldn’t think so either !