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On Syria, US Gives Questions to Censors, Spies & Trolls, CBS' Falk, Reuters' Charbonneau

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 5 -- When US Ambassador Samantha Power took three questions after denouncing the UN Security Council and not mentioning the UN's forthcoming report on chemical weapons in Syria, the first was given as if automatically to Pamela Falk of CBS News, as 2013 president of the UN Correspondents Association.

  The third and last went to Falk's first vice president Louis Charbonneau of Reuters.

  Maybe the US Mission didn't know (or maybe they did), but Charbonneau not only has tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, he has essentially spied for the UN, giving an internal anti-Press UNCA document to the UN's chief accreditation official Stephane Dujarric three minutes after promising not to. Story here, audio here, document here.

  Now on September 5, 2013 Charbonnneau is linked to yet more anonymous social media trolling of Inner City Press and the alternative media-defense organization it co-founded, the Free UN Coalition for Access.

  The documented "spying for the UN" is the most serious: it goes beyond getting too close to those you are supposed to cover.

Charbonneau glad-hands Ban Ki-moon: handing documents? (c) Luiz Rampelotto

  It has been a tradition at the UN to "give" UNCA the first question in sit-down briefings where there is a special guest. But it is a tradition that should be abandoned, now that UNCA has shown itself not only willing to try to get critical journalists thrown out of the UN, but has descended into anonymous social media trolling, including trying to get journalists targeted by extremists with death threats.

  UNCA did this to Inner City Press regarding Sri Lanka; when Inner City Press fought back, UNCA Executive Committee members from Voice of America, Reuters and Agence France Presse among others tried to get the UN to throw Inner City Press out.

  Charbonneau leaked UNCA documents to Dujarric; VOA wrote in asking for a "review" of Inner City Press' accreditation. Tim Witcher of AFP later filed a spurious complaint with UN Security leading with how Inner City Press asked a question of UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, a complaint coordinated with Michele Nichols of Reuters who works under Charbonneau.

  Both Nichols and Charbonneau echo Reuters corporate output on Twitter. For a time Charbonneau was named a Foreign Policy Twitterati, but then he was no longer on that list of two. He still lists himself as one. This is Reuters -- compensation is based on (often false or stolen) exclusives.

  Both Falk and Charbonneau were told to stop UNCA's anonymous social media trolling, and to instead say anything they wanted ON THE RECORD. But they didn't. They are trolls.

When UNCA demanded the first question of Bolivia's president Evo Morales and Inner City Press wrote about it, the Department of Public Information convened UNCA and FUNCA for a meeting. UNCA's Pam Falk knew it was on the record; she said, he's going to write about it. Audio here.

  And Inner City Press did. DPI let Dujarric do its response - more threats to Inner City Press, for daring to report on an on the record meeting. Here is audio from the meeting, first reflecting that Falk knew it was on the record.

Falk at UN: Demands first question, has nothing to ask: responsible for trolling

   DPI has continued to partner with UNCA, well aware of the ongoing social media trolling. In fact, DPI let UNCA write portions of its Media Access Guidelines and now seeks to enforce a Ban on signs by threatening to suspend or withdraw Inner City Press' accreditation for hanging a sign of FUNCA on the door of its shared office, while UNCA has five signs.

  Perhaps the US Mission doesn't know or doesn't care, how this relates to free speech and freedom of the press. But it is important to note that under Falk and Charbonneau, UNCA held a faux "UN briefing" with Saudi-supported Syrian rebel boss Jarba, publicized only to those who paid money. So what about the US Mission choosing these questioners? Watch this site.


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