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After Hillary's UNSC Stakeout, UN Admits to ICP No "Tradition," on Fabric

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 11 -- When Hillary Clinton spoke about her privatized e-mails for 20 minutes in front of the UN Security Council on March 10, the venue seemed noteworthy and not entirely appropriate.

  The first question seemed fishy, with its praise of Clinton and invitation to blame the controversy on sexism.

  The UN moved the flags of the 15 members of the Security Council but left up a sheet emblazoned "Security Council" in English and French.  UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press on March 11 that "the fabric is unmovable, it is tied to the wall."

  Previously it has been said that only member states and their representatives may speak on UNTV camera at the UN Security Council stakeout. Inner City Press on March 11 asked Spokesman Dujarric to explain, in light for example of the Frente Polisario of Western Sahara, parties to UN-mediated talks on what's called the last colony in Africa, has been banned from speaking. Video here.

  Dujarric said that the US Mission to the UN asked on Hillary Clinton's behalf for the venue, and checked with this month's Security Council presidency: France.

 But, Inner City Press asked, since Polisario was blocked by a single member's opposition, was the request circulated to all members? This, Dujarric did not answer.

  Many have now noted that the set-aside first question to Hillary Clinton at the UN Security Council stakeout position on March 10 was a softball, beginning with “it's wonderful to see you” and ending with an invitation to blame the inquiry into privatized State Department email on sexism.

  To defend the setting-aside of this question, it has been falsely claimed to the Washington Post and repeated by others that there is a “tradition” of the UN Correspondents Association getting the first question in such setting.

  Inner City Press on March 11 asked Dujarric, who before being spokesman worked in the UN Department of Public Information in charge of UNTV, if there is any such tradition as to the Security Council stakeout.

  No, was the UN Spokesman's on-camera answer, here.

  In fact, as noted, a simple review on the UN Television online archives of the last ten, or twenty, or one hundred question and answer sessions at the Security Council stakeout position where Hillary Clinton spoke shows there is no such tradition. So why was this "tradition" invented and invoked?

  Dujarric on March 11 told Inner City Press that the choice of first question was made by Mrs Clinton's spokesperson.

  (He said there is a tradition to set aside the first question for UN in the Press Briefing Room -- but this did not happen, for example, on March 11, nor when Chad had a press conference as Security Council president for December 2014. For the reasons below the "tradition" of the UN Secretariat calling first on what's become the UN Censorship Alliance is contested. But it does NOT apply to the UNSC stakeout where Hillary Clinton spoke.)

  There's more. The head of UNCA Giampioli Pioli, to whom it's said the first question was to be given, is a Democratic campaign contributor. To the tune of at least $800.

  This too is online, here -- and has been raised, along with other conflicts of interest, but UNCA has not adopted any policy against it. This is why the new Free UN Coalition for Access opposes privileges for and use of UNCA, for softball questions at the UN.

   The Washington Post's Al Kamen In the Loop reported:

“by tradition, the first question at a U.N. news conferences is asked by the president of the U.N. Correspondents Association. But UNCA president Giampaolo Pioli, of the Italian paper Quotidiano Nazionale (National Daily) wasn’t in town Tuesday. We reached him in the Central African Republic and he said protocol would dictate that one of the other UNCA officers would do the honors. They did indeed follow protocol and the next officer in line,  UNCA first vice president Kahraman Haliscelik, the New York correspondent for the Turkish Radio & TV network, opened the questioning”

  And here was the question: "Madam Secretary, on behalf of the U.N. correspondents association, thank you very much for your remarks and it's wonderful to see you here again.  Madam Secretary, why did you opt out using two devices at the time? Obviously, if this hadn't come out, it probably would not have been an issue. And my second follow up question is, if you are a man today, would all this fuss be made?"

  The question... speaks for itself.  The pretext for setting aside this first question doesn't hold up. Again, a simple search of UNTV's online videos of the last week or month or year of question and answer sessions at the Security Council stakeout where Hillary Clinton spoke shows there is no such tradition, whatever UNCA and perhaps others claim.

  But this Pioli, flying along with Security Council members for quick visits to the Central African Republic and Burundi, about which Pioli has never asked the UN a question nor apparently written any articles (unlike US politics), is a Democratic campaign contributor. Whatever one's political affiliation, is this appropriate? Watch this site.


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