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Obama Aide Ben Rhodes Hits Back at Controversial NYT Profile

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Ben Rhodes. (AP)

By    |   Monday, 09 May 2016 10:03 AM

White House aide Ben Rhodes is hitting back at his portrayal in a New York Times Magazine story as creating a phony narrative to make the Iran nuclear deal more palatable to the American people.

The White House deputy national security adviser for strategic communications and speech writing, in a Sunday night post on Medium, argues the Obama administration was not trying to mislead the public.

"[We] never made any secret of our interest in pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran," Rhodes writes, noting that President Barack Obama had "campaigned on that position in 2008."

"The fact that there were discreet channels of communication established with Iran in 2012 is something that we confirmed publicly," he continues. "However, we did not have any serious prospect of reaching a nuclear deal until after the election of Hassan Rouhani in 2013. Yes, we had discussions with the Iranians before that, but they did not get anywhere."

Rhodes also denies he was trying to "spin" the deal to drum up support.

"The critical point that the deal's opponents are missing in the current debate is that 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," he writes.

"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."

And about his brag that he was able to manipulate the media, and that reporters covering foreign affairs "literally know nothing," Rhodes offers an olive branch.

"A review of the press from that period will find plenty of tough journalism and scrutiny," he writes. "We had to answer countless questions about every element of the deal and our broader Iran policy from reporters."

While the Times magazine story suggests Rhodes has a lot of authority within the White House, and describes him as crucial to the passage of the Iran agreement, Rhodes insists he was part of a much larger and more important team.

"Lost in all of this discussion of how we communicated about the deal is the heroic work done by the team of diplomats and experts who designed and negotiated the deal over a period of years — led by people like Secretaries John Kerry and Ernie Moniz, Wendy Sherman, Bill Burns, and Jake Sullivan," he writes.

"My job was to support them, and I believe they demonstrated what diplomacy can accomplish on even the most difficult issues," he writes.

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White House aide Ben Rhodes is hitting back at his portrayal in a New York Times Magazine story as creating a phony narrative to make the Iran nuclear deal more palatable to the American people.
Ben Rhodes, Responds, New York Times, Profile, Controversial, Iran Deal
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2016-03-09
Monday, 09 May 2016 10:03 AM
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