Friday, May 06, 2005

Creeps on Parade (a continuing series)

I was inspired to begin this new continuing series after reading an article in FrontPage Magazine, which was brought to my attention by a reader, about world-class creepiness among reporters covering the UN. I also was tipped off by email to a bunch of stuff on the Accuracy in Media website on this subject. (Which reminds me: Any tips should go to mediacrity@hotmail.com.)

To tell you the truth I was more than just "inspired" by all this stuff. It also made me want to toss my cookies.

Anyone who has been in journalism for very long knows that the people who go into this business aren't necessarily the heroes we read about in comic books when we were kids. A lot of journos are... well, creeps. I learned that myself when one of my first bosses ran off with his secretary, leaving behind a wife and six kids.

But even for a grizzled cynic such as myself, the goings-on at the UN press corps, revealed in the FrontPage and AIM articles, are just too much. I mean, these guys set new standards of hypocrisy, doubletalk, ethics-anorexia and general skin-crawling creepiness.

Here are some "highlights" from the FrontPage piece:
  • UN correspondents take bucks for appearing on UN news shows, and for writing books that shill for the UN. Last month I wrote about the lack of media-watchdog attention that had been devoted to fourth-rate hack Ian Williams, the anti-American UN consultant-correspondent who writes puff pieces on the UN, but the sliminess appears to extend far beyond him.
  • FrontPage says "several [UN Correspondents Assn.] members have accepted all-expense-paid junkets. Following a 2004 trip to Taiwan, reports one UNCA insider, other members of the group suddenly made Taiwan into a hot story. There was also a trip to Sweden, he said, on which correspondents accepted pocket money from their hosts."
  • UNCA immediate past president Tony Jenkins told FrontPage that “the Swedish trip was "an effort by the Swedish government to ensure broad media coverage of the conference on genocide prevention, an initiative backed by the Bush administration." He asked the magazine, "Are you [FrontPage] suggesting that, but for Stockholm's generosity, these journalists would have written in favor of genocide?”" (Ehh... buddy, I think FrontPage is suggesting that but for Stockholm's generosity, they wouldn't have gone to Stockholm.......)
  • FrontPage said that "several UNCA members reported" that our ethics-deprived boy here, Jenkins, "threatened many members with revocation of their credentials if they questioned the leadership's ethics or leaked information to outsiders. He knows officials at the U.N., he reportedly told at least four individuals, who would yank their credentials." Jenkins denied that, but, interestingly, the current UNCA president wouldn't comment on this rather serious charge of world-class crappiness.
  • Our fourth-rate hack has been feathering his own nest at UNCA expense. Says FrontPage: "In January, 2004, UNCA's then-president Tony Jenkins hired Williams' wife Anora Mahmudova, a citizen of Uzbekistan and BBC Uzbekh Service employee, as an 'office administrator.'"
  • When asked about the above, the fourth-rate hack stonewalled. "Williams refused to answer questions on this score or any other until FrontPage released all its sources of income, advertising and funding." Jenkins also blew off FrontPage's questions.
  • FrontPage said "Mahmudova received upwards of $15,000 in salary from the UNCA in 2004—, the largest chunk of the organization's annual budget." Which means that UNCA's biggest item of spending last year was the household of its former president, the fourth-rate hack, UN correspondent-media-consultant Ian Williams! That tops everything else, don't you think?
  • No, that doesn't top everything else. That hiring was illegal. Said the magazine: "As a recently naturalized U.S. citizen, Jenkins should have known the position was illegal for Mahmudova." The magazine says she was only canned after the issue was raised, nearly a year after she was hired, and she walked away with a two-week bonus!
  • Last but not least, UNCA's position on ethics is along the lines of "Duhhh... ethics? What do that mean?" Said FrontPage: "As to reporters' ethics, however, [UNCA president Jim] Wurst commented, 'I am not a nanny or a cop. Journalists operate according to rules of their organization and their consciences.' Asked whether UNCA should institute an ethics code, Wurst considers the idea 'impractical' since 'we are not an enforcement agency.'” No shit, Sherlock.

OK, so let's see what we've got here:

  • Journos going on junkets, which would get you fired from most news organizations.
  • Journos taking money from their sources, which would get you fired from most news organizations.
  • The head of a journalist group allegedly intimidating his members, which would result in a huge uproar if it happened at most journalist groups.
  • Stonewalling in response to legitimate media inquiries.
  • Blatant, in-your-face nepotism.
  • A journalist group that takes a "not my job" attitude toward ethics.
  • An apparent flouting of the immigration laws.
The latter is a huge no-no nowadays, and can gets you deported, disgraced, fined and worse--ask people with names like "Bernard Kerik" and "Kimba Woods" if you don't believe me. Accuracy in Media, which broke the story, correctly pointed out that "apparent violations of U.S. immigration law are not a trivial matter and deserve serious scrutiny by the appropriate U.S. authorities."

Not a word on any of the above in any major media watchdog group. Some pickup on Fox News, but that's about it as far as the major media are concerned. Aside from Fox--and please email me if I am wrong--the only other people who have done anything on the really disgusting, stomach-turning wretchedness in UN hackdom are FrontPage Magazine and AIM.

Admittedly, the UN is a pretty irrelevant organization nowadays, and the journos in question here are decidedly of the snot-rag variety. Jenkins, for example, was quoted by AIM as making an anti-American, Israel-bashing speech at one UN event. (AIM quoted him as criticizing the U.S. media as follows: "Why is the coverage of the Middle East so uneven? And so narrow? What is everyone afraid of? You find a broader debate about the policies of the Sharon government in Israel than you do here. It's as if all of American Jewry, in its multifaceted glory, had been hijacked by the Likud.")

Still, you have to wonder if there isn't a double standard at work.

You have to wonder what would happen if this blatant flaunting of journalism standards took place at, for example, the White House or Capitol Hill press corps. You can bet that a conservative media watch group, an Internet magazine and Fox News would not be the only ones to be writing about it.

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