- - Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Many think as a society we have slipped past the line defining our ability to discern reality from political spin. On the other hand, we are generations of conditioned consumers who have been subjected to the most sophisticated ad campaigns ever imagined. In short, if there is or has ever been a way to sell something, we have heard or seen it.

There is a subtle difference, however.

When we watch commercials for a product, we know that the pitch person is an actor parroting a script, but when we watch a “spokesman” at the White House or the State or Defense Department at a news briefing, the assumption is that the person actually knows what he or she is talking about.

Or, do they? Not really. As far as the spokespersons are concerned it’s all spin and there’s no “there” there. Their degrees are in “media relations” and, ironically perhaps, they are as clueless as their other colleagues in the room — all peas from the same pod. They are all 27 year-old know-nothings — even if they may be older — and it’s literally the blind leading the blind.

Not only that, they see their careers as leading to the multimillion-dollar George Stephanopoulos network media model — who, lest we forget, was Bill Clinton’s spokesman. Media critics believe that little George is still the Clintons’ spokesman.

Don’t forget where the 27-year-old know-nothing description originated: Ironically, it’s from President Obama’s “chief” 27-year-old know-nothing (actually, he’s 38) Ben Rhodes, White House national security spokesman, talking about selling the Iran nuclear agreement to the media: “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

For a more painful example, remember the Benghazi disaster? Our Embassy gets overrun by terrorists in Libya and our ambassador and three others are killed on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, despite repeated requests from the ambassador to “Main State” for more physical security.

So it was a massive, complete and negligent — perhaps grossly negligent — failure of the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and ultimately the secretary of State, right? Especially because it occurred on Sept. 11 when our embassies — especially in Libya and the Middle East — should have been especially vigilant for terror attack, right? It seems a no-brainer that the State Department screwed up.

Wrong, my media spoon-fed children. It was none of that.

It was a “spontaneous reaction to a video” and not a terrorist attack, because if it really was, someone — probably Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — really screwed up. That’s the story young Mr. Rhodes emailed to then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice ahead of her appearance on several Sunday morning talk programs three days after the attacks, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including Libyan Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The email included goals for Ms. Rice’s media appearances and advice on how to discuss the subject of the protests that were supposedly raging in Libya and at other American diplomatic posts in the Middle East.

Among the goals that Mr. Rhodes identified: “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.” In a section called “Top-lines,” Mr. Rhodes added: “Since we began to see protests in response to this internet video, the president has directed the Administration to take a number of steps. His top priority has been the safety and security of all Americans serving abroad.”

So there, it’s settled: It wasn’t a terror attack at all, it was simply a popular reaction to an internet video, and who could have predicted that? Certainly not the people at the State Department responsible for “diplomatic security” and certainly not the secretary of State. The fact that the attack occurred on Sept. 11 was of no relevance, and certainly not caused by of a “broader failure of policy.”

As they say in the Midwest, what a load. Mr. Rhodes admitted later regarding the Iran deal that he “led journalists to believe a misleading timeline of U.S. negotiations with Iran over a nuclear agreement and relied on inexperienced reporters to create an ‘echo chamber’ that helped sway public opinion to seal the deal .”

And perhaps the most amazing part of the “news cycle” in Washington is that the “digital reporters” take the spin they are given and run with it without question, turning it over to their news bosses, who then air it during the evening news for us all to choke on.

No wonder no one believes what they read in the paper or hear on the evening “news.” It’s all a show, a spin and all about access and politics, and it gets worse by the day. Meantime, our colleges continue to turn out kids with degrees in media studies, who learn to spin their way up the media food chain, hoping to rotate in and out of government.

As we learned yet again in the recent election, they really don’t know anything. By the way, Mr. Rhodes’ brother is president of CBS News. Where do you think Ben will end up next year?

Daniel Gallington writes about national security.

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