Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, making him one of President Barack Obama’s top security advisers, admitted to the New York Times Magazine in an extensive profile that he helped promote a “narrative” that sold the Iran nuclear deal to the media. This means that the Iran nuclear deal itself may have been based on lies and the misinformation of the American public.
According to Rhodes, this narrative created an “echo chamber” through inexperienced reporters to help sway the public, making it possible to push the Iran nuclear deal through. Contrary to what had been reported, the negotiations actually started before moderate Iranian president Hassan Rouhani was elected in 2013. This is an important detail as Rouhani’s predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wasn’t exactly the most favorable figure in the eyes of the American public, which may have painted the Iran nuclear deal in a bad light.
“They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say,” said Rhodes on the arms control experts in think tanks that were sourced by hundreds of reporters regarding the Iran nuclear deal.
These think tanks and groups like The Iran Project were used to promote the Iran nuclear deal as they confirmed the message intended to help sway public judgment to smooth the way to getting it done.
“All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” said Rhodes on the apparent inexperience of reporters. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”
“I haven’t seen anybody produce any evidence that that’s the case. I recognize there might be some people who are disappointed that they did not succeed in killing the Iran deal. Maybe these unfounded claims are the result of sour grapes. The truth is, the administration, under the direction of the president, engaged in an aggressive campaign to make a strong case to the American people that the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon enhanced the national security of the United States.”
Laura Rozen of the Al-Monitor news site was one of the reporters mentioned in the profile, herself having reported on the Iran nuclear deal. She was mentioned by Tanya Somanader, the manager of the White House’s Twitter feed on Iran, as her “RSS feed. She would just find everything and retweet it.” Rozen later disputed this notion in an email, stating that she does not know Somanader. She also said that David Samuels, the author of the piece, did not ask her about the claim before publishing the profile.
Rozen said that she has had a long history of U.S. foreign policy and followed “over 20 rounds of the Iran nuclear deal negotiations” over four years and refutes any notion of being used or misinformed, that her reporting “was certainly not done as a favor to or in support of any administration.”
It was also mentioned in the piece that apart from the whole thing with the Iran nuclear deal, Rhodes tried to prevent the news of Iran’s capture of American sailors on January 12 from airing prior to President Obama’s State of the Union address, but that was exactly what had happened.
“They can’t keep a secret for two hours,” said Rhodes on the media’s predilection in jumping the gun to break stories.
The basic point seems to be that the current standards of the press may have become lax, enough for it to be manipulated as such to have something like the Iran nuclear deal and whatever may be wrong with it to slip underneath the public’s nose.
[Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images]