President Obama's political appointees are not only celebrated by the media as the best and brightest America has to offer; they are promoted as being so bright that they are allowed to boast about how they masterfully manipulate the press, like sculpting a can of smelly, journalistic Play-Doh.
The New York Times Magazine wrote a long profile of Obama's deputy national security advisor for strategic communications — his foreign-policy communications whiz — Ben Rhodes, lauded as "the master shaper and retailer of Obama's foreign-policy narratives, at a time when the killer wave of social media has washed away the sand castles of the traditional press."
Don't blame social media for the traditional media's adoration of Obama. "Rhodes has become adept at ventriloquizing many people at once," wrote David Samuels for the Times. He and his fellow ventriloquists first enter briefing rooms to dazzle and deceive the dedicated journalists with certain beats. Then, there are the "force multipliers," described as "prominent Washington reporters and columnists who often tweet in sync with White House messaging."
In short, Rhodes declared, "We created an echo chamber."
Rhodes exploited the fact that when newspapers close foreign bureaus to economize on staff, the gray beards disappear. Now, "They call us (at the White House) to explain to them what's happening in Moscow and Cairo," Rhodes proclaimed. "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."
Exhibit A of the "master shaper" Rhodes bending the press to Obama's will was the Iran arms deal. The Times explained that Obama's team exploited the press by pretending the 2013 election of President Hassan Rouhani and a "moderate" faction of the Iranian regime presented a brand-new opportunity to strike an Iran deal. But in reality, the Obama negotiators began talking to Iran in July of 2012, almost a year before the election. This false narrative entered the echo chamber. Polls showed that the American public didn't like the Iran deal, but the media just shouted over them with recycled Obama lingo about the "historic" and "landmark" agreement.
Another example that wasn't mentioned by the Times is the death of four Americans at Benghazi. In 2012, Rhodes easily ventriloquized the media with the bizarre spin that the U.S. Consulate wasn't subjected to a terrorist attack, but that it suffered from a spontaneous protest over an internet video mocking the Prophet Muhammad. Even after Team Obama was forced to relent on this blatantly false talking point, the ventriloquist dummies wouldn't focus on how they had been used.
Just last week, Fox News' chief Washington, D.C., correspondent James Rosen told host Bill O'Reilly that the State Department blatantly lied to him when he asked about the Iran deal negotiations timeline.
"I can attest directly that the Obama administration, in the person of then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, of whom I am very fond, Bill, flat-out lied to me in February 2013," Rosen said. "When I showed up in the briefing room at the State Department I asked, point blank, 'Are there any direct talks going on between the U.S. and Iran of any kind?' and she said 'no,' at a point when those talks had been ongoing for eight months."
The next step naturally followed. The other networks all ignored the kerfuffle over the Rhodes boasts as some sort of inside-the-Beltway snoozefest. The last thing a supine media wants to report is just how supine it is, even when the accuser is the liberal "master shaper and retailer" of Obama's narratives.