Who Leaked the Fake News Story That Obama Lectured Mark Zuckerberg About Russia: Susan Rice or ... Ben Rhodes?
Monday's version of "Democracy Dies in Darkness" featured a fake news story on the top of the front page: "Obama sought to prod Facebook on Russia role." After the story ran, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg corrected The Washington Post, pointing out that Russia was not the topic of discussion — the meeting centered on fake news, and the president did not mention Russia.
Axios broke the story on Tuesday, reporting that the Post's online version noted the article "has been updated with an additional response from Facebook." That response led to the report that "Obama made a personal appeal to Zuckerberg to take the threat of fake news and political disinformation seriously ... though the president did not single out Russia specifically."
The revised story also reported that Obama and top aides "quietly agonized on how to respond to Russia's brazen intervention on behalf o the Donald Trump campaign without making matters worse." Elliot Schrage, Facebook's vice president of communications, told the Post that Obama's discussion with Zuckerberg was about "misinformation and false news" and "did not include any references to possible foreign interference or suggestions about confronting threats to Facebook."
In light of recent revelations that $100,000 in Russia-backed political ads were given visibility on Facebook, the story seemed an attempt on behalf of former Obama staffers to make the previous administration seem more educated and proactive than it actually was.
Overnight, the story flipped from "Obama was ahead of his time" to "which former Obama staffer leaked this fake news to The Washington Post?"
The Resurgent's Erick Erickson has an answer: Obama's former UN ambassador and national security advisor, Susan Rice. Rice, who took the fall for the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, is also infamous for requesting the unmasking of U.S. citizens under FISA surveillance connected to the Donald Trump campaign.
"A source tells me that when the conversation took place the person who accompanied Obama in this meeting was none other than Susan Rice," Erickson reported Wednesday. "So Susan Rice, once again, was trying to mask her own failures by pointing the blame somewhere else. Sound familiar?"
Erickson argued that the Washington Post story seemed yet another attempt on behalf of "Susan Rice and the Obama team" to "point the finger at Zuckerberg to their friends in the Washington Post rather than come to terms with what really happened" in the 2016 campaign — their side lost because Clinton and her policies were unpopular.
The real story of Russia's involvement in the 2016 election is rather embarrassing to the Obama team, of course. As Erickson noted, "When it came to Russia, Obama, Clinton, and Rice were asleep at the switch for 8 years. From the reset button, to promising to be 'more flexible' to doing nothing in 2016 when their intelligence indicated Russians were trying to impact our elections."
The whole story might make Americans nostalgic for Mitt Romney... the man Obama dismissed as insane for warning that Russia would be America's primary geopolitical foe. Furthermore, Obama and Rice were warned about Russian meddling in 2014 ... and did nothing.
Of course, there is another potential culprit for the fake news leak to WaPo — a man who has been described (by The New York Times, no less) as the "master shaper and retailer of Obama's foreign policy narratives."
That's right, ladies and gentlemen — Ben Rhodes, the speechwriter without any foreign policy, military, or international experience who became Obama's deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, was in Lima, Peru with Obama and Rice. He did not sit in the meeting with Zuckerberg, but he likely knew everything — or almost everything — about it.
Indeed, the speechwriter responsible for selling the horrifically dangerous and naive Iran nuclear deal seems a perfect match for the leaker behind the fake WaPo story.
There is even one more reason to suspect Rhodes. While Rice was a direct witness of the meeting between Obama and Zuckerberg, Rhodes was one step removed. If a leaker wanted plausible deniability after his or her story was revealed to be false, Rhodes would have that deniability. He was traveling with Obama and Rice but did not sit in the actual room with Zuckerberg.
If Rice is the leaker, she has been caught in a lie. If it's Rhodes, he can at least say, "Well, Rice told me Obama mentioned Russia."
Whoever the source for the Post's story, his or her credibility has taken a major hit. Or at least, it would have — if the mainstream media were not in thrall to the former administration.