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After UN Eviction, Press Re-entry Hindered by Reuters, VOA, Ban's Scam with Gallach

By Matthew Russell Lee, Part of Series, Video

UNITED NATIONS, February 16 – The re-entry to the UN after having to cover it from the park across the street brought back to me that while it was Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach who signed the letter, some United Nations Correspondents Association big wigs had lobbied for it. Some made it obvious. Michelle Nichols of Reuters said loudly, when I came into the briefing room, that some people couldn't handle the cold and had to come inside.

  Walking to the Security Council stakeout, this time down the steps since my non-resident pass wouldn't open the turnstile, Voice of America's Margaret Besheer came over to further block my way.

  When I raised up my phone to film Periscope, Michelle Nichols of Reuters pushed my arm down. Behind her was the increasingly wormy Louis Charbonneau, Bureau Chief who'd told me he had a POLICY of not crediting Inner City Press. The boss of Reuters Stephen Adler when I'd emailed him and his deputies never answered. But the documents I got from Voice of America under the Freedom of Information Act showed that's when they prepared to sue. Only the leak had stopped them. Now they were on a roll.

   I kept writing stories - Burundi, Yemen where the UN's envoy running and fishing business and then even a car import business on the side, free press abuses in Turkey and elsewhere - but to write them, I had to sit in the windowless bullpen on the fourth floor with my headphones on. When I've first come to the UN, the bullpen was right across from the spokesperson's office and by the elevators. You could get stories there. Now it was locked off on the side and no one seemed to care. There was no high speed internet, no phones, no place to have a private conversation. The “focus booths” that were supposed for that had been given out. It was a First World problem, but at least 40% of my reporting work, it seemed, was no longer possible. That seemed to have been the goal.

  I had to fly my flag, I decided. To show that I was back. My pass no longer got me to the second floor, to the Delegates Lounge this Friday night. But a woman from the indigenous unit of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs said she'd sign me in. They took my drivers license and said, Don't go off anywhere, to any other floor. Yes, boss. Even if I see a corpse.
  The Delegates Lounge was loud, as usual. The spokesman of the US Mission, hipster Kurtis Cooper who lived in Williamsburg, came over and said, “They finally did it.” (Later he'd tell the New York Times he thought I was like Lenny Bruce, making his final jokes about his court cases - but that's jumping ahead). A better source came over, who will go unnamed here, and said he'd tell me how Gallach got her job. This, I had to hear. We found a table and he began.

  “How many people do you think she managed, before being given 700 at DPI?” he asked. I shrugged.

  “Seven,” he said. “You heard me right: seven. She was the spokesperson for Javier Solana. Then she wanted a Gender Equality job, but it got taken by someone whose father knew Zapatero. She waited around. Finally when Spain was going onto the Security Council, Ban Ki-moon wanted to give them a post, to buy a favor from them, and they put Gallach in DPI. It's a nightmare. Everybody hates her.” He paused. “But you didn't get this from me.”

  Of course not. The conversation never happened. More people came over; I spoke to them one by one at a green plastic table in the back of the Delegates Lounge. Some fight back had begun. But would it be enough?


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