Obama’s tweet meister

Philip Seib on the shortcomings of the White House’s spin machine

The World Today Updated 27 November 2020 Published 27 May 2016 3 minute READ

Philip Seib

Lucius W. Nieman Professor of Journalism, Marquette University, Milwaukee

On May 5 The New York Times Magazine published a profile of Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. Such an article might have attracted little interest but Rhodes’s condescending remarks have made him the focus of much negative attention.

His comments not only call into question the honesty of policy statements from the White House, but they also display a fundamental disregard for the news media’s role in informing the public about what its government is doing. Performing that role requires that the relationship between press and government, although characterized by dynamic tension, be built on a foundation of mutual respect.

Rhodes told the article’s author, David Samuels, that journalists who cover international affairs from Washington ‘literally know nothing’ and are part of a foreign policy establishment he dismisses as an irrelevant ‘Blob’.

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