David Samuels profiles the White House's deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, Ben Rhodes, and finds "an only slightly updated version of what Holden Caulfield might have been like if he grew up to work in the West Wing." Although the comparison, and the rest of the profile, seem intended to frame Rhodes as a serious thinker and decision-maker, Rhodes's derision toward the press corps ("They literally know nothing"), jaundiced candor about the "spin" used in selling the Iran deal, and statements like “I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends" have set the media establishment afire with hot takes and critiques.
Notice: henceforth, the Minister of War shall address the people only through the Ministry of Truth. The story-behind-the-story of the Vice President's hunting mishap is the denigration of the MSMTM as the traditional proxy of the public interest, says NYU journalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen. "It strikes me that the Corpus Christi Caller-Times is just as valid a news outlet as The New York Times is," Cheney told cherry-picked Fox "News" correspondent Brit Hume yesterday. GOP spokesperson Mary Matalin underlined the point by saying that Cheney considered holding a news conference, but that "would have meant a lot of grandstanding" by reporters; Donald Rumsfeld often goes even farther, claiming that terrorist organizations manipulate the American press directly through "media committees." Judging by the administration's contempt for the Fourth Estate, says Rosen, "The public visibility of the presidency itself is under revision. More of it lies in shadow all the time. Non-communication has become the standard procedure, not a breakdown in practice but the essence of it." Even arch-conservative pundits like George Will are starting to get nervous about the lack of check and balances under the current regime. There's no doubt that the White House press corps seems angrier these days -- but are they missing the bigger stories by focusing their wrath on Scott McClellan's birdshot spin?