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AFP's Witcher, Ladsous' Lapdog, Echoes on Minova, Reuters Re-Tweets

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 7 -- When Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to sit atop UN Peacekeeping, wants to spoon-feed stories and get positive coverage, Agence France Presse and its UN reporter Tim Witcher cannot be far away.

  It began the very day Ladsous was dumped on the UN, as a replacement for candidate Jerome Bonnafont. Inner City Press had the scoop, first of Bonnafont then of Ladsous.

  The result was a complaint from Witcher for anti-Press action by the UN Correspondents Association, now known as the UN's Censorship Alliance.

   Flash forward to March 7. For months, Inner City Press has been asking Ladsous about 126 rapes in Minova by his partners in the Congolese Army.

  On November 27, Ladsous ran from the question and took Witcher, Louis Charbonneau of Reuters and Margaret Besheer of Voice of America in the hall. Video here.

   But none of Ladsous' three Mouseketeers wrote a word about the rapes. Or asked about them in the weeks after, including on December 18 when Ladsous directed his spokesman to seize the UNTV microphone to try to avoid another Inner City Press question about Minova. Video here.

   After Inner City Press put the question to Ban Ki-moon himself on March 5, on March 7 Ladsous' DPKO decided to spoon-feed a vague answer to friendly reporters.

   Reuters wrote about it first -- Michelle Nichols typing it up, rather than Louis “Kurtz” Charbonneau -- then Besheer tweeted it, as a break from her concern for British royals.

   But then Witcher chimed in with his spoon-fed write up. And lo and behold, Lou Charbonneau thanked him for re-tweeting Nichols typing job, and promoted Witcher's echo. This is how these particular wires work, or don't work, at the UN.

  Witcher and Charbonneau continue in the UN's Censorship Alliance; Besheer has pulled back to an affiliate. They are using social media, and how! Watch this site.

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