President Barack Obama, third from right, listens during a bilateral meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Paris, on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. The leaders discussed the continuing crisis in Syria, and the fight against the Islamic State group. From left, Charles Kupchan, Senior Director for European Affairs, Brian Deese, Senior Advisor, Secretary of State John Kerry, Obama, Susan Rice, National Security Advisor, and Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
One of the most goofy and yet polarizing figures in the Obama White House was deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes. Rhodes is the brother of the head of CBS News, David Rhodes. This explains how a guy with a master’s degree in fiction, literally an MFA in fiction writing, whose dream was writing young adult novels ended up running the foreign policy of the United States. From Benghazi to the Arab Spring to the genocide in Syria, every horror show precipitated by the Obama administration had Rhodes fingerprints all over it. But the pièce de résistance of his tenure was selling the Iran nuclear deal.
He did this by using a network of anti-American groups that masquerade as disarmament nonprofits, like Ploughshares, to provide “expert” commentary in favor of the deal and, at the same time, enlisting a stable of feckless, rather stupid reporters in influential publications who were over-awed by someone in the White House acknowledging their existence to pick up the commentary and repackage it as news. Rhodes called it his “echo chamber.”
Rhodes singled out a key example to me one day, laced with the brutal contempt that is a hallmark of his private utterances. “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “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.”
Rhodes’s innovative campaign to sell the Iran deal is likely to be a model for how future administrations explain foreign policy to Congress and the public. 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…
As Malley and representatives of the State Department, including Wendy Sherman and Secretary of State John Kerry, engaged in formal negotiations with the Iranians, to ratify details of a framework that had already been agreed upon, Rhodes’s war room did its work on Capitol Hill and with reporters. In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. “We created an echo chamber,” he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”
And no overview of Ben Rhodes would be complete without the epic video of him having a good cry after learning Hillary Clinton had lost the 2016 election.
Ben Rhodes reacting to Hillary Clinton's hilarious defeat in 2016 is the funniest part of the new Obama Documentary on HBO.
What makes it even better is throughout the documentary he brags how she is going to win. pic.twitter.com/MGBQNE5ATY
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) May 30, 2018
So what happens to a guy who boasted in a major publication about deceiving the American people on a major policy issue and using stupid reporters and corrupt experts to peddle a totally false narrative? You hire him as a political commentator for your news organization.
Happy to announce @brhodes is joining @NBCNews and @MSNBC as a Political Contributor. The former Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications for President Obama makes his debut appearance on @MeetThePress this Sunday and @allinwithchris on Monday. pic.twitter.com/cr5NiyF7UY
— MSNBC Public Relations (@MSNBCPR) June 2, 2018
MSNBC: Sean Spicer misled reporters. How dare anyone even think of hiring him?!
Also MSNBC: Thrilled to announce we've hired the Obama echo chamber guy who bragged about clowning idiot reporters for 8 years. pic.twitter.com/KZ9yCMowdG
— Omri Ceren (@omriceren) June 2, 2018
Ben Rhodes makes difficult job transition from lying to the public to protect Obama legacy to lying to the public to protect Obama legacy. https://t.co/Xg7oy1eDLi
— Dan 🇺🇸 (@danieltobin) June 2, 2018
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