Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Hypocrites on Parade (a continuing series)

Why does it take a conservative advocacy group to expose one of the worst recent examples of journalistic hypocrisy and ethical obtuseness? I refer to The Nation's UN correspondent, Ian Williams, who boasts about his commercial ties to the UN while writing about it for that far-left rag. Accuracy in Media has been all over this story like a cheap suit. Nobody else.

Where are the anguished cries, the calls for his head from the usual sanctimonious guardians of journalism ethics? It is pathetic that only AIM seems to care about this issue.

True, The Nation is a mass of wasted wood pulp whose only redeeming social purpose, which is to line hamster cages, is obviated by its small-size format and leaky ink. It's also true that Williams is a fourth-rate hack. But fourth-rate hackdom has not prevented other ethics-deprived journos from being publicly pilloried. What is keeping Williams from the gallows?

AIM has been nipping at his heels for a few months, apparently. Its latest missive on the subject is out today: http://www.aim.org/media_monitor/3069_0_2_0_C/

Here's the scoop:
After AIM exposed its dirty laundry, The Nation published an editor's note saying as follows: "In recent days our UN correspondent, Ian Williams, has come under attack from a variety of right-wing pundits and media organizations like Accuracy in Media for writing about the UN while 'writing articles for the world body and even coaching UN officials on how to deal with the press.' We believe the key here is disclosure. Williams disclosed these activities on his personal website and, in the future, we will do so in the magazine as well. We continue to have full confidence in Williams's reporting."

"Reporting"? Yeah, right. Williams is nothing more than a shill for the UN and for Kofi Annan personally. In December, AIM points out, The Nation posted a column by Williams headlined, "The Right's Assault on Kofi Annan." It reads as if it were produced by one of the UN's own flacks--which it was, I guess.

Williams said Annan was coming under fire in the oil-for-food scandal because he opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Williams said, "Charges of corruption against UN official Benon Sevan are suspect at best, given that they come via Ahmad Chalabi, who was also the source of the discredited information about Iraq's illusory weapons, as well as the assurances that Iraqis would greet US and British forces as liberators." In February Annan suspended Sevan, after an inquiry found that he had repeatedly solicited allocations of oil under the program and had "created a grave and continuing conflict of interest."

All the while Williams is flakking for the UN at The Nation, he's boasting on his website about all the business he's gotten from the Turtle Bay Totalitarian Debating Society.

If you go on his website, www.ianwilliams.info, you see what I'm talking about--if you can read it. This guy is such a dummy that he's got black print on a dark blue background.

Under "Training," he says as follows:

"For the last five years he [meaning Williams; a regal third-person reference] has played a significant role in training UNDP Resident Representatives and UN reps in media handling, both at HQ and overseas, with a particular emphasis on coaching for interview techniques. The UN’s training section also called upon him to help with training senior officials at HQ.

"He has conducted training sessions for journalists and UN staff in places as far apart as Albania, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Macedonia and Morocco."

Makes you wonder. Did the UN actually fly him out to those places to "conduct training sessions for journalists"? If so, did he put on a "foreign correspondent act" for The Nation or some other publication while doing?

Anyway, back to the website. Under "Editorial Services" he says as follows (again referring to himself in the third person):

"He has produced several booklets for UN agencies, including one on Portugal and aid to Africa, another on ASEAN, and on the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea and in the past year edited the 2001 UNCTAD report and helped draft the press-kit for the 2002 Arab Human Development Report for UNDP."

Then if you go to another part of his unreadable black-on-blue website, he says that he "is a frequent lecturer on the UN and the media at various venues such as Yale, Columbia Journalism School, NYU, Freedom Forum, Hofstra, Patterson and Rutgers" etc. etc.

Lecturer about what? He says "on the UN." What about the UN? Flakking for the UN? What about "the media"? Ethics?

Williams would just be another burned-out hack if The Nation wasn't so hypocritical about it. The hypocrisy is served up in two ways.

First The Nation says Williams's "disclosures" -- on a personal website, not The Nation's website, for chrissakes! -- were sufficient. It then goes on to say that "in the future, we will do so in the magazine as well." But if the "disclosures" were so great when they were on "ianwilliams.info," why bother to disclose them in the magazine?

Besides, The Nation isn't doing any disclosing.

Williams has produced one piece for The Nation--for its website, not the print edition--since it was discslosed that he was on the UN payroll. The web article doesn't mention its UN-consultant-correspondent's UN ties directly on the article inself. Instead you have to go to the Williams bio, elsewhere on the website. Nowhere does it say how much money he got from the UN.

The second aspect of The Nation's hypocrisy is even worse. While employing this UN-paid creep as its "correspondent" at the UN, this rag has the gall to attack Judith Miller for her pieces on the UN.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

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