When Ben Rhodes recently boasted about the ability of the White House to get its message across with little investigation of facts by the networks, he acted as though the blame fell on young, inexperienced members of the press corps.
Many political reporters are young and inexperienced. But that wouldn’t stop them from checking facts and seeking other sides to stories. Only their bosses could curtail their quest for truth. And if you are making a couple hundred thousand dollars a year, losing your job may be more important to you, than telling the whole truth.
Rhodes is Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speech writing, according to the White House.
If you wonder how a 30-year-old became Obama’s speechwriter in 2007, perhaps one clue might be his last name and his famous brother.
Ben’s brother (you can tell by the ears), David, is president of CBS News. At his appointment in 2011 he was the youngest network news president in the history of American television, and he is responsible for CBS News broadcasts and the division’s news gathering across all platforms including television, CBS News Radio, CBSNews.com and CBSN.
David began his career in television journalism with Fox News, where he joined as a production assistant before the channel started in October 1996. He eventually became Vice President, News. In 2008, Rhodes moved to Bloomberg as head of U.S. Television.
It’s nice to have a brother in the White House, and it’s equally pleasant to have a brother running a major network. One hand washes the other. It’s difficult not to wonder if the CBS eye is just winking today, or has entirely closed?
The Rhodes brothers are not alone in their news/politics power.
Elizabeth Sherwood Randall has been serving as the United States Deputy Secretary of Energy since October 2014. Previously, she was Coordinator for Defense Policy, Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Arms Control and, before that, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs since January 2009.
One of her duties was leading the U.S. response to destroy the Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons during the Syrian Civil War, that same war that continues today.
To her distinction Liz does not have a brother at the networks.
But her husband is Ben Sherwood, the co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, and President, Disney-ABC Television Group. Prior to his current job, he was president of ABC News
And then there’s former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. His wife is Claire Shipman, currently the senior national correspondent for the ABC program, Good Morning America.
Last, and probably least, is Tom Nides, former deputy secretary of State under Hillary Clinton. His wife is CNN’s deputy Washington bureau chief, Virginia Moseley.
Maybe Rhodes was wrong about the “echo chamber.” It real looks more like a “family affair.”