Sunday, June 19, 2005

Payola Pundit Puts on His "UN Flack" Hat

The Payola Pundit, UN correspondent-consultant Ian Williams, puts on his "UN flack" hat today, viciously attacking New York Times reporter Judith Miller for daring to publicize an email indicating that Kofi Annan met with his son Kojo and Cotecna, the firm hired by the UN to enforce the oil-for-food rules.

In a piece for something called MaximsNews, the fifth-rate hack--famed for doing PR consulting for the UN while covering the UN for The Nation and other publications--engages in a classic attack-dog PR hit job as he laces into Miller for probing his pal Kofi Annan.

In most respects there's nothing notable about today's piece, which reads as if it were written by a media consultant for the UN--which, of course, is how Williams describes himself on his website, "Ian Williams, Media Consultant." What makes this bit of flackery egregious is that it is illustrated with a photo of Miller with this spelled out in red, "Wanted: For Crimes Against Journalism."

What deliciously ironic hypocrisy.

Here we have an individual who boasts on his website about his work for the UN as a "media trainer" -- training UN officials so they can deal with pesky reporters like Miller. Ian Williams is also delighted to tell us that he is the author of UN pamphlets. Remember, he did all this UN flackery while covering the UN for The Nation and other publications.

To top things off, he is a central figure in the controversy that is now embroiling Victor Navasky, his boss at The Nation, whose hidden role at Columbia Journalism Review raised the question of why CJR never has covered the UN payola scandal. That job was left for Fox News, Accuracy in Media and FrontPage Magazine.

Of course, "MaximsNews" is designed to do little more than flack for the UN and attack US foreign policy in the guise of a fake "news" website. Its "columnists" include none other than Shashi Tharoor, the UN undersecretary who manages the seven hundred flacks at the UN's bloated propaganda ministry or "Department of Public Information."

Imagine a Washington "news" service that runs "columns" by the chief Pentagon spokesman and Pentagon PR contractors and subsidized authors and hacks. You'd be able to hear the howling in Pago-Pago.

According to its website, this drivel-regurgitator is "in partnership" with Ted Turner's UN Foundation and his Better World Fund. Tim Worth, head of the UN Foundation, writes "columns" for MaximsNews. So does Linda Fasulo, who covers the UN for NBC--which didn't prevent her from taking thousands of dollars from the aforementioned foundations to write a puff-job book on the UN.

How much these "partnerships" mean in bucks is not disclosed, but then again, MaximsNews isn't big on disclosure. It doesn't, of course, disclose Williams' UN work. But then again, MaximsNews doesn't have to disclose that Williams has worked long and hard for the UN. All you have to do is hold your nose and read what he writes.