National Security Adviser Susan Rice denied the White House deceived the public on the Iran nuclear deal in an interview Sunday, just over a week after a profile on Deputy National Security Adviser for Communication Ben Rhodes claimed otherwise.
The New York Times Magazine profile, released May 5, quoted Rhodes admitting to manipulating friendly sources and journalists by spinning a false narrative around the deal and the Iranian government in order to sell the deal to the public. The bold admission to such deceptive practices sparked widespread controversy from both proponents and critics of the deal, including the journalists named in the piece. Rice denied any wrongdoing during an appearance with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
“There was nothing hidden. There was no effort to or reality of misleading,” said Rice. “There is nothing that Ben or the president or I or anybody who was involved in explaining the Iran deal to the American public said that wasn’t factually correct. The notion that there was any ball to hide or spin to put on it, I think, is really misguided.”
Despite Rice’s denial, the profile’s author David Samuels stated in the article “the way in which most Americans have heard the story of the Iran deal presented … was largely manufactured for the purpose of selling the deal.”
In one of the most damning portions of the profile, Rhodes conceded he and the rest of the administration were well aware that the newly elected government of Iran was not moderate, yet still pushed the narrative that they were.
“There was nothing that was hidden or could be hidden. It was in the public sphere,” said Rice Sunday. “And never in my recent recollection has there been a more robust and substantive debate over an important foreign policy issue.”
The profile shows a fair debate was certainly not the priority of Rhodes and his team, instead, they focused on using favored journalists, policy experts and other key figures to cultivate the White House narrative.
“We created an echo chamber,” Rhodes admitted to Samuels. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”
Indeed, Samuels’ piece says Rhodes did not believe a “robust” or “substantive” debate on the nuclear deal was ever a realistic possibility.
“I mean, I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote,” said Rhodes. “But that’s impossible.”
The Iran nuclear deal, inked last July, was not the first time Rhodes and Rice spun a narrative on a major foreign policy issue. An email obtained by Judicial Watch in 2014 revealed Rhodes also had a hand in pushing the idea that the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was due to an anti-Islam video, and not “a broader failure of policy.” In reality, it was clear that the attacks were anything but spontaneous, as the administration claimed, and were planned days in advance by a Libyan terrorist group.
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