Friday, May 06, 2016

How Two Plus Two Equals Five

There is a good reason I don't trust our media on any issue of importance to Democrats. Case in point is the Iran nuclear deal.

Behold the deception over the Iran deal:

Congratulations, liberals of the Washington press corps and elite organizations: You’re a bunch of suckers. We all know this because the Obama White House just told us so.

In an astounding New York Times piece by David Samuels, senior White House officials gleefully confess they use friendly reporters and nonprofits as public-relations tools in the selling of President Obama’s foreign policy — and can do it almost at will because these tools are ignorant, will believe what they’re told, will essentially take dictation and are happy to be used just to get the information necessary for a tweet or two.

Their greatest triumph, according to Samuels, was selling a misleading narrative about the nuclear deal with Iran — the parameters of which were set a year before the administration claimed and had nothing to do with the fact that a supposedly more accommodating government had risen to power. ...

It could only work if water-carriers did the White House’s job for it, and nonprofit water-carriers did their faithful duty. “We created an echo chamber,” Rhodes tells Samuels about the journalists and think-tankers who were discussing the Iran deal based almost entirely on information given to them by the White House. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

Oh, and note the utter contempt (from the article) the White House has for the press corps and liberal think tank industry that was led around so easily.

I bet the press corps was laughing it up when the administration counted on the "stupidity of the American voter" to pass Obamacare. The contempt spread, it seems, to those American reporters in charge of explaining things to the public.

Funny stuff.

I was astounded by the lockstep march of the Iran deal assessments that parroted the administration's arguments for the agreement. It just didn't add up.

That's why I went to the source and looked at the actual agreement (well, except for the parts that were hidden from us).

The deal is bad. It will not prevent Iran from going nuclear. I doubt it will even slow down Iran. And it strengthens Iran in non-nuclear military and financial areas.

Yet our press corps repeated White House arguments so well that you couldn't see the president's lips moving and you could hardly tell Rhodes' arm was all the way up the press corps' nether region animating their deception.

Not that this is the first time this has happened.

Back in 2007, we had a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear program that resulted in a flood of reporting that flew in the face of what the actual public summary stated:

The reality of the situation is that the NIE has constrained President Bush in dealing with Iran while Iran has no atomic weapons. And I say this in full knowledge that the popular notion of the NIE starts and stops with the statement that Iran halted its nuclear weapons programs in 2003 and hasn't started them again. Our press has failed us again. Report after report says that Iran is not a threat based on this NIE.

Pam Hess is a notable exception. She reports on all the aspects of the NIE report summary. I recommend it. Better, read the NIE report summary itself. You only need to read the two plus pages of the key judgments. Don't rely on our press. They've failed us yet again. They had to read but 2-1/5 pages of key judgments, yet only Pam Hess seems to have done this and actually reported on the judgments.

I summarized the NIE findings in an update here. It's quite different than the reporting that followed.

And I'm not the only one to notice this amazing ability to ignore the actual words of that source document (quoting an Australian writer):

The headlines around the world were that Iran is no longer a nuclear threat. Yet that is the opposite of the NIE's lengthy consideration of Iran's uranium enrichment program or indeed of its missile efforts. And it ignores the report's only moderate confidence that Iran has not recommenced actual weaponisation.

Thus, in generating headlines the opposite of its overall conclusions, the report was either written with monumental incompetence, or, much more likely, with an overtly political purpose.

Yes. Where reporters are not ignorant of their subject matter, they are partisans willing to go along with their side.

There are exceptions in expertise and honesty, to be sure. But you can never fully trust the analysis of our press corps. The only way to guard against this problem is to know enough about the subject matter to recognize the BS.

We can all be grateful that Iran is having a far harder time of going nuclear than I thought they'd have. But it does not change the facts of how the debate has been twisted by partisans in the press corps eager to avoid doing anything to stop Iran from going nuclear.

All this is one of the few reasons to vote for Trump in November. At least we will be able to count on the left-wing press corps to resist being spoon fed their stories by the Trump administration.

Ignorance, alas, will remain. But as I've noted, I'm a glass half-full kind of man.

UPDATE: More on Rhodes and the Iran deal con job (tip to Instapundit):

Rhodes is profiled in a The New York Times Magazine cover stroy that rips to shreds both the story line sold to the American public and the notion that we have independent media in the age of Obama.

Rhodes’ job was to message and ensure that the White House’s narrative of the nuclear deal with Iran was the media’s. Rhodes, in the profile written by David Samuels, displays no shame about his job; in fact he seems quite pleased with himself.

Rhodes who doesn’t have the usual credentials for such a job, “like military or diplomatic service, or even a master’s degree in international relations,” has become President Obama’s foreign policy guru.

Of course, Rhodes is right about one thing: much of the press corps that reports on foreign policy knows nothing of foreign policy.

And for the quality of our reporters? Gerstman rightly concludes from this disastrous affair:

A free and independent press is essential to the proper functioning of a free society. What Samuels exposed is a corrupt media, more interested supporting the the president in its reckless pursuit of a nuclear deal with a rogue state than in acting as a countervailing force to an out-of-control administration.

We’ve known for a long time that the media carry water for the Obama administration, now they’re exposed as its shills. I would hope that some media people wake up after reading about Rhodes and engage in some self-reflection. But I sure won’t count on it.

No wonder their industry is dying.

UPDATE: More on the administration deceit involved.

UPDATE: The link above to the NIE summary died. Here's a new one.

UPDATE: One last note quoting President Obama on the spectacle of Trump:

"What I'm concerned about is the degree to which reporting and information starts emphasizing the spectacle and the circus. Because that's not something we can afford," Obama said.

"The American people, they've got good judgment, they've got good instincts - as long as they get good information."

That's pretty rich from an administration that has relied on spectacle rather than good information to get its agenda passed.