I’m going to quote extensively from a New York Post piece by John Podhoretz, who really sums up the astonishing chutzpah Rhodes demonstrates in the Times interview. You want to say it’s unbelievable, yet knowing this administration and this president (and the media they’re so easily manipulating), it’s totally believable:
Rhodes drips with contempt for almost everyone but his boss. He consigns all those who do not share every particular of the Obama-Rhodes foreign-policy perspective to a gelatinous mass called “The Blob” — including, Samuels writes, Hillary Clinton.
He thinks as little of them as he does of the journalists he and his team must spoon-feed. “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns,” Rhodes says. “They literally know nothing.”
Then there are others his assistant Ned Price refers to as “force multipliers,” more senior reporters and pundits who parrot what they’re told. “I’ll give them some color,” Price says, using the journalistic term for juicy bits of inside-baseball detail, “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.”
A foreign-policy reporter named Laura Rozen, the most credulous conveyor of pro-Iran-deal news last year, is given a specific shout-out by White House digital guru Tanya Somander. “Laura Rozen was my RSS feed,” Somanader tells Samuels. “She would just find everything and retweet it.”
The Iran deal, you may recall, was wildly unpopular with the American people. To ensure senators didn’t cast a two-thirds vote against it and kill it, the White House set up a digital response “war room” whose purpose was relentlessly to make the case that a vote against the deal was a vote for war.
It could only work if water-carriers did the White House’s job for it, and nonprofit water-carriers did their faithful duty. “We created an echo chamber,” Rhodes tells Samuels about the journalists and think-tankers who were discussing the Iran deal based almost entirely on information given to them by the White House. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”
Little did these denizens of Rhodes’ echo chamber know their loyalty would be seen as servility and would become the subject of post-victory gloating. “We had test drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else,” Rhodes says. “So we knew the tactics that worked.”
The storyline they peddled was that the Iran deal had been negotiated in a furious round of back-and-forthing in 2014 and 2015, with the United States getting far better terms out of Iran than it expected due to the flexibility of a newly moderate government in Tehran.
It was, Samuels says, a deliberately misleading narrative. The general terms were actually hammered out in 2012 by the State Department officials Jake Sullivan and William Burns, rooted on Obama’s deep desire from the beginning of the administration to strike a grand deal with the mullahs.
Why on earth was such conduct remotely acceptable? Because, Samuels makes clear, Rhodes and Obama believe they’re the only sensible thinkers in America and that there’s no way to get the right things done other than to spin them.
I know that’s a very long excerpt, but there’s so much that’s powerful in it, I really wanted you to see it all. Out of respect for the Post and John Podhoretz, please click over and read the whole thing.
So the Obama team not only recognize that these reporters are liberal. They also recognize that they’re very inexperienced and don’t really know much about policy substance because they’ve spent all their short careeres covering political campaigns. Thus, they’re easy to steer and direct, since they’re ideologically predisposed to trust Obama’s agenda and they don’t know enough to question it when they’re handed B.S.
It’s perfect for an administration that needs a pliant media to sell its horrible policies to the public, or at least create an environment in which those who oppose its horrible policies can’t get any traction in the public debate.
I suppose Rhodes feels free to talk publicly about this to the Times because hey, like always with the dinosaur media, he’s among friends. Friends he manipulates for his own purposes, but is there any other kind of friend in Washington? Not for a guy like this.
And don’t think for a second that the Iran nuclear deal was the only example of the Obama Administration doing this. They didn’t just dream up this strategy that one time and suddenly execute it to perfection. This is standard operating procedure for them. They know perfectly well that the media are their suck-ups, and that they’re going to accept their narratives with almost total credulity because they play to their own biases. Think about how the media report stories on ObamaCare. For them, it all comes back to how many people are covered. Stories about rising premiums, collapsing exchanges and canceled policies hardly gain their notice. They just keep selling that one big number. That’s the narrative Obama pushes, and they eat it up because it’s what they already think.
By the way, if you’re one of these intellectually lazy voters who think there is no difference between Hillary and Trump, here is one: If Trump is really as horrible as you say, then if/when he actually does something horrible, the media will be all over it. As they should. When (there is no if) Hillary does something horrible, are you sure the media will tell you about it?
How can you be after reading this? She will probably not be as skilled as manipulating them as Obama is, but they’ll still be willing to do her bidding – and there will be all kinds of nefarious things happening that you will never know about. Because the media are the Democrats’ PR staff. Ben Rhodes just told us everything we need to know about how it works.