Journalism's PC Police Slimes Judith Miller
Miller had written a piece for the New York Times on June 14, describing a memo concerning a meeting between oil-fot-food contractor Cotecna and Kofi Annan. Cotecna employed his son Kojo, and both went overboard covering up and lying when asked about it by the Volcker panel. The Dec. 4, 1998, memo from the contractor, a guy named Michael Wilson, said that in late November 1998 he had conversations with "the S.G. and his entourage" and was told that his company, Cotecna, "could count on their support."
The guy who wrote the memo was a close pal of Kofi and Kojo, so it came as no surprise that, as the Times reported two days later, he denied what was in the memo. Any competent journalist who was not an ideological partisan would press on with the investigation.
Baker, who describes himself as a "media critic," goes ape over the memo denial, and in the process demonstrates that either he is an amateur who doesn't know what he's talking about, or an ideologue, or both.
The contractor Wilson is distorted by Baker into being the "source" of the story--an "unreliable" source because he had repudiated stuff in the past. Now, if Baker had not dozed through whatever journalism class he might have attended back in grade school, he would know that Wilson was not the source of the story but rather the subject of the story--and it is Journalism 101 that subjects of investigative stories often issue denials.
Hey, that's the way it goes. Maybe Wilson is right, maybe he is wrong. But as far as Baker is concerned, Miller was wrong even to report the memo.
That is not a position that would be taken by a journalist interested in informing the public. It is a position that would be taken by the spokesman for Kofi Annan.
The Baker piece is not journalism as much as it is shilling for the UN, similar to an article recently written by the Payola Pundit Ian Williams. The aim of articles such as this is not to "improve journalism" but to "defend Kofi Annan."
Better call the Columbia Journalism Review and get them on the case! Oh, wait a second. What have we here? Seems Baker is a contributor to the Columbia Journalism Review and also to The Nation--whose publisher, lo and behold, is the secret "chairman" of the CJR. Guess this will go down with the UN correspondent payola scandal as another nonissue for the CJR.
Oh, I almost forgot the funny part. Baker is "currently involved with launching a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing investigative journalism."