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In France as at UN, Reuters & AFP Use Blind Quotes Against Investigative Media

By Matthew Russell Lee, Media Critique

UNITED NATIONS, February 10 – In France there is a scandal in which the anonymous channeling of power by Reuters and AFP mirrors what these two wire services do in UN coverage.

  French budget minister Jerome Cahuzac is accused by investigative website Mediapart of maintaining a secret bank account at UBS in Switzerland, then moving its contents to Singapore.

  UBS, already known to have lied to authorities in the US and been fined for it, has not surprisingly issued a denial.

  Mediapart points to an e-mail as evidence. Now, a unnamed “judicial source” is used by first Reuters, then AFP, to say Mediapart engaged in “inexact interpretation” of the e-mail.

   Why not name the judicial source? Why so quickly believe power and UBS, a bank already known to lie, on LIBOR, terror finance and money laundering, over investigative media and a document?

   In covering the UN, Reuters and AFP on January 25 used the same “unnamed UN official” to announce that at the AU summit in Addis Ababa an agreement for aggressive “peace enforcement” would be signed.

   As Inner City Press immediately pointed out, this was akin to letting the UN declare war, anonymously.

   When the agreement was NOT signed in Addis, there were no corrections, no accountability.

  What ARE Reuters' policies on granting anonymity in cases like this -- now including Cazuhac -- for Reuters editors like Stephen J. Adler, Walden Siew, and Paul Ingrassia?  For Agence France Presse? There is, as has become the pattern, no answer.

   But it gets worse.

   Both Reuters and AFP, with ongoing or Permanent seats on the Executive Committee of the UN Correspondents Association, are involved in an anonymous social media account which, along with mocking an alleged victim of sexual harassment who joined the new Free UN Coalition for Access, has made much of a strange denial by UN Peacekeeping of a document Inner City Press published about the UN in Congo.

  When the MONUSCO mission issued its denial by press release, Inner City Press immediately asked the UN to identify a single falsehood in the published document, and to confirm or deny the authenticity of other leaked MONUSCO documents it has.

  The UN said, at a noon briefing of the type observed and "harvested" but barely attended by these two wires, said it would not comment on any leaked document.

  The message is anti-journalism: it is, trust us, don't question or publish.

  But Reuters and AFP, or at least their UN bureau chiefs, innately leap to the side of UN Peacekeeping. AFP's Tim Witcher did this openly back in September 2011, click here for that story.

  When three doctors were killed this weekend in Nigeria, AFP in a headline called them “Chinese” doctors: "trois medecins chinois tues par des hommes armes."

    When it became clear the doctors were Korean, AFP simply issued a new story calling them “South Korean.” Now that some quote that health minister that they are NORTH Korean, part of an inter-governmental program, will AFP ever issue a correction?

  Did Reuters run any correction or explanation, after it falsely called Lakhdar Brahimi a Nobel laureate? No.

  Reuters has let its UN coverage go downhill by providing no oversight, adopting as reflected by FOIA documents a policy of not responding to questions, complaints or requests for policy from Inner City Press, even as Reuters bureau chief Louis "Kurtz" Charbonneau mis-labled exclusives, filed stealth complaints to expel the Press, and now this.

  (The false exclusive problem comes from the top: Reuters brass bases compensation on such labeling, then ignores when errors are raised and challenged.)

  These are venerable wires - or a word that rhymes with wires. Watch this site.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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