The New York Times Magazine profile of Ben Rhodes by David Samuels has prompted a counterattack. In the profile Rhodes proclaimed his success in promoting a false line on behalf of the Obama administration’s deal/alliance with Iran.
Rhodes showed himself to be the ultimate ingrate. He expressed contempt for the reporters and others who disseminated his lies. To those who served as fools for Obama, Rhodes offered this tribute: “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.”
What does Ben Rhodes know? He knows how to sell lies and influence people. You can see how his mind “melds” with that of Obama (another theme of Samuels’s profile).
Ben Rhodes responds to Samuels’s profile at the open access site Medium in the post “How we advocated for the Iran deal.” Medium states at the top of the post that it’s a “4 minute read.” To save you four minutes, I would summarize Rhodes this way: “I remain a trusted source.”
The profile briefly brings the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg into the ambit of Rhodes’s circle. Goldberg responds in “Ben Rhodes and the retailing of the Iran deal.” As Goldberg explains: “The profile posits that Rhodes manipulated the press, and the public, into believing various untrue things about the Iran deal. Deep in the article, Samuels named me as one of those manipulated reporters[.]” Samuels seems to be channeling Rhodes when he states: “For those in need of more traditional-seeming forms of validation, handpicked Beltway insiders like Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Laura Rozen of Al-Monitor helped retail the administration’s narrative.”
Goldberg complains that Samuels didn’t call him for a response. Goldberg further complains that he and Samuels have an unfriendly relationship that should have been disclosed or taken into account. Goldberg has a beef to pick with the Times. He sets forth his correspondence with the editor of the New York Times Magazine.
Goldberg disputes the accuracy of his descriptions as “a handpicked Beltway insider” chosen to validate the administration’s story line. He calls Ben Rhodes as his witness:
I also called Ben Rhodes. Like many reporters in Washington, I’ve known Rhodes for years, and have interviewed him repeatedly. (One of Samuels’s strangest assertions is that Rhodes is an “invisible” player in Washington; he does not seem invisible here, and he is also among the most frequently quoted senior administration officials in—wait for it—The New York Times, as has been noted to me by several Times reporters who were appalled by the Samuels piece).
I asked Rhodes if he told Samuels that he, or other administration officials, had ever handpicked me to retail their case for the Iran deal. This is what Rhodes said: “I told him that our goal was to try to convince you and a handful of other columnists that the Iran deal wasn’t a total catastrophe. I told him I don’t think I ever convinced you that it was a good deal.”
So the answer seems to be “yes,” Goldberg was a handpicked Beltway insider chosen to validate the administration’s story line. Not having received the answer he wanted, Goldberg asks again:
I asked again, “Did you tell him that I was handpicked by you to ‘retail’ your public relations message?” “Of course not,” Rhodes said.
Goldberg further denies that he ever “did what the Times accuses me of doing[.]” The editor of the Times Magazine responds to Goldberg by email:
David [Samuels] was describing a system for crafting and disseminating information, and this paragraph tried to show how the people operating that system saw the press, and in particular, saw you. David has extensive reporting—many hours of taped interviews—that supports the notion that Rhodes and others around him saw you as a key figure in how they would get their message out to the world. But let me be clear: It is not our belief that they felt this way because they saw you as intellectually pliable, or someone who would do their bidding.
As far as proof goes, we have David’s interviews. But again, as I said in the earlier email, since this was a story about Rhodes primarily, we didn’t elect to go into this material. (I also believe that it is reasonable to assume that, because the administration has trusted you so many times with such significant access, that, well, they trust you. Though again, I feel compelled to add that them trusting you is not itself evidence that you are in cahoots with them. And also to add that the work you produce with that access is of great value).
With Rhodes as his witness, Goldberg seeks a correction from the Times. Rhodes, however, is a self-proclaimed liar. He’s proud of it. And his testimony doesn’t exactly support Goldberg’s denial.
Politico publishes a less interesting critique of Samuels’s profile by the president of the Ploughshares Fund, another victim of Rhodes’s ingratitude.
In the FOX News Special Report segment below, James Rosen reports on this matter from his own perspective and the administration’s Orwellian treatment of the record. Don’t miss this.
Video via Aaron Kliegman/Washington Free Beacon.