The Associated Press posted an article in the Las Vegas Sun (and other newspapers) today about the selling of the Iran nuclear deal to the American public. There has been a bit of a dust-up about the Iranian nuclear deal because of a rather lengthy interview Ben Rhodes, one of President Obama’s top foreign policy aides, gave to The New York Times.
As I reported on May 10, Mr. Rhodes felt that the White House reporters he was briefing were so inexperienced he could tell them anything and they would believe it. He also managed to set up a media echo chamber to convince the American people that the Iranian deal was a good idea. Well, it gets worse.
The Las Vegas Sun reports:
A group identified by the White House as a key ally in selling the public on the Iran nuclear deal gave National Public Radio $100,000 last year to help it report on the pact and related issues, according to the group’s annual report. It also financed reporters and partnerships with other news outlets.
The Ploughshares Fund’s mission is to develop and finance initiatives “to reduce and ultimately eliminate the world’s nuclear stockpiles,” one that dovetails with President Barack Obama’s arms control efforts. But its behind-the-scenes advocacy of the Iran agreement got more attention this month after a candid profile of Ben Rhodes, one of the president’s top foreign policy aides.
In The New York Times Magazine article, Rhodes explained how the administration worked with nongovernmental organizations, proliferation experts and even friendly reporters to build support for the seven-nation accord that curtailed Iran’s nuclear activity and softened international financial penalties on Tehran.
“We created an echo chamber,” said Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, adding that “outside groups like Ploughshares” helped carry out the administration’s message effectively.
There are a lot of reasons this infuriates me. First of all, in this discussion I don’t hear any reference to America’s national security and how it will be impacted by the Iran deal. I also don’t see any admission that Iran will use much of the money the agreement frees up to manufacture weapons to be used against American soldiers in Afghanistan and the Middle East. It also hits home because bloggers are not necessarily seen as a valid source of news for the American people. In this case, conservative talk radio, conservative news outlets, conservative publications, and conservative bloggers were the only ones telling the truth about the Iran deal, and the White House worked very hard to portray them as misinformed.
The article further reports:
Ploughshares boasts of helping to secure the deal. While success was “driven by the fearless leadership of the Obama administration and supporters in Congress,” board chairwoman Mary Lloyd Estrin wrote in the annual report, “less known is the absolutely critical role that civil society played in tipping the scales towards this extraordinary policy victory.”
Ploughshares has set its sights on other media organizations, too.
In a “Cultural Strategy Report” on its website, the group outlined a broader objective of “ensuring regular and accurate coverage of nuclear issues in reputable and strategic media outlets” such as The Guardian, Salon, the Huffington Post or ProPublica.
Previous efforts failed to generate enough coverage, it noted. These included “funding of reporters at The Nation and Mother Jones and a partnership with The Center for Public Integrity to create a national security desk.” It suggested using “web videos, podcasts, photo-based stories” and other “attention-grabbing formats” for “creatively reframing the issue.”
The Center for Public Integrity’s CEO, Peter Bale, confirmed the group received a grant.
“None of the funding received by Ploughshares was for coverage of the Iran deal,” said Bale, whose organization received $70,000. “In general, we avoided that subject because the topic did not lend itself to the type of investigative reporting the center does.”
At some point the American people will realize that the Iranian nuclear deal is a bad deal. By then it may be too late, but at some point the truth will come out. Meanwhile, this looks a lot like the Obama Administration working against the welfare of the American people. Unfortunately, the American people played right along.