The senior White House aide who spearheaded the push for the Iran nuclear deal is defending his handling of the issue after he suggested in a controversial New York Times magazine profile that he fooled key stakeholders into not questioning the pact.
Ben Rhodes was forced to explain himself in a blog post for Medium after he suggested that the White House successfully spun journalists and others to accept key arguments in favor of the deal with Tehran.
“We believed deeply in the case that we were making: about the effectiveness of the deal, about the value of diplomacy, and about the stakes involved,” Rhodes wrote. “It wasn’t ‘spin,’ it’s what we believed and continue to believe, and the hallmark of the entire campaign was to push out facts.”
Rhodes, who is Jewish, raised eyebrows when he boasted to reporter David Samuels that he created a liberal “echo chamber” of support for the nuclear deal.
Rhodes derided the Washington D.C. press corps as gullible stooges and said cutbacks in media houses has made it all but impossible for them to effectively cover foreign news objectively. The profile portrayed Rhodes as cleverly exploiting the gaps in coverage to push President Obama’s agenda, especially on Iran.
The White House was forced to defend itself after the controversial interview hit the streets, with a spokesman reiterating that key diplomats like John Kerry were the ones who laid the groundwork for the agreement.
President Obama scored a major political victory when he inked the deal with Iran and convinced Congress not to overturn it.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used an address to Congress in March 2015 to seek to build opposition to the deal, but he ultimately failed.
Jewish Democrats were placed in the crosshairs and senior lawmakers were divided over backing the president or siding with supporters of Israel, many of whom strongly opposed the deal. Rhodes was a key player in that effort, and he portrayed himself in the Times interview as a skilled puppetmaster of Jewish groups and lawmakers.