The Oil-for-Food UN scandal has been one of those long slow excruciatingly drawn-out stories that, somehow, hasn’t gotten anywhere near the coverage it should have. Over the last year, Claudia Rossett of the WSJ and Roger Simon in the blogosphere have been instrumental in not allowing the story to die.
But recently it’s been showing more signs of life, sort of like those little green shoots poking out of the snow in my garden. Now Roger writes that the NY Times’ response to the interim Volker report on Kofi Annan’s involvement is to claim that the report largely exonerated Mr. Annan of personal corruption in the awarding of a contract to a company that employed his son. But, as Roger points out, the report merely stated that no evidence has yet been found of such involvement. The report is by no means either definitive or final.
So, what about Kofi’s “press pass”? (see definition of the term here). It’s a bit frayed, but still intact, apparently. The mere fact that the Times has been forced to write about the scandal is a good sign, but the way it is writing about it still leaves a lot to be desired. The word “exonerated” is certainly not appropriate at this time; the Times is extremely premature in using it. But the Times knows exactly what it’s doing. Words are its business, after all, and it chooses them very very carefully.