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After UN Spins Faux “Press" Encounter, Its Censoring Scribes Buy Jerseys

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 30 -- When is a “press encounter” not a real press encounter? When the UN claims that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held one, but the press corps which covers the UN is not informed and is not present. Why was this done?

  Those ostensibly speaking for the UN press corps, the old UN Correspondents Association, make no complaint, instead bragging about Ban kicking a (soft) ball with them. They have even, in the wake of trying to censor reporting on their president's financial relationship with Sri Lanka's Ambassador and (canceled?) television favors, spending money on their own jerseys, here.

   This is UN decay, and what the Free UN Coalition for Access is challenging.

  On Sunday, June 29 Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric sent out a transcript of what it called Ban's “Remarks at Press Encounter with H.E. Mr. Shimon Peres, President of Israel.” What was sent out did not say when it had occurred, nor where, other than “New York.”

  No notice was sent out by the UN's Media Liaison and Accreditation Unit, nor by Ban's Office of the Spokesperson. When Ban's current spokesman Dujarric was in charge of MALU, FUNCA formally asked him to begin providing notice of Ban events even if held outside of the UN headquarters.

  On June 30, Inner City Press for FUNCA asked, where did the "press encounter" take place and why were the press not told? From the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: On this Sunday press encounter, I saw this from the readout of the press encounter, but I didn’t see any pre-announcement of it. Can you give a little, like, once it was sent out, was it known that he would speak? Who did he speak to? Other than UN News Centre?

Spokesman Dujarric: This was an invitation by President Peres to attend a working brunch, and the Israeli Mission made the arrangements. Thank you.

Inner City Press: UN News Centre was there, so how did they get there?

  That last was not answered. While Dujarric said it was the Israeli mission which made the arrangements, if true, that is abnormal, as the UN is supposed to announce to the media it accredits when Ban will be taking questions on UN relevant issues.

  Dujarric bragged when he gave notice of Ban meeting New York City Mayor De Blasio - but gave no notice of the "press availability" regarding Israel's Peres. FUNCA says this is UNacceptable.

  The old UN Correspondents Association on the other hand, whose head Pamela Falk was present on June 30 if only to take the first set-aside question to Hilde Johnson on South Sudan, made no complaint.

  Instead, they are bragging about a "journalists and diplomats" game of football or soccer this week, even that Ban Ki-moon will be present at the kick-off.  Softballs, indeed.


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