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THE OTHER U.N. SEX SCANDAL

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By thisistwitchy  •  February 21, 2005 09:06 AM

We’ve been tracking the U.N.’s sex scandal in the Congo. But over the weekend, the other U.N. sex scandal came to a head.

Top U.N. official Ruud Lubbers resigned Sunday over long-brewing accusations of sexual harassment from at least four women, including an American woman who worked on the staff UN High Commissioner for Refugees. This interesting piece in National Business Review credits the old British MSM–singling out The Independent of London–for bringing Lubbers down:

Flexing its old media muscle, Britain’s Independent claimed the scalp of one of the UN’s top leaders today — refugee chief Ruud Lubbers, who resigned with a considerable show of pique.

Old media — newspapers and television — have had a very poor showing of late when compared to the scalp-hunting efficiency of new media (blogs), but the Independent may have benefitted from the “blogswarm” phenomenon, in which charges are circulated quickly over a massive, if informal, readership and contributor base.

As Dan Rather and Eason Jordan found out first hand, facts can emerge too quickly in such a setting for any defense short of a carpet mea culpa to stand.

Better, as with CNN in the case of Eason Jordan, to defuse the story by stepping aside quickly — something that Mr Lubbers has done only once the Independent dropped real blood (portions of a leaked investigation into allegations that he had engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment) into the water, something that would have set the blogs swarming.

In doing so, the Independent actually scooped the blogosphere, which had paid little attention to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Lubbers — concentrating, instead, on various bits of the growing oil-for-food scandal.

More coverage from The Independent, which obtained a confidential U.N. report concluding last year that Lubbers was guilty of sexual misconduct.

Washington Post coverage here.

Reuters reports that Lubbers quit to help relieve Kofi Annan of the “strains” on him from several scandals:

AMSTERDAM, Feb 20 (Reuters) – Former Dutch premier Ruud Lubbers said on Sunday he had resigned as head of the U.N. refugee agency after allegations of sexual harassment in part to relieve pressure on U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

“The pressure from the persistent press reports became too much. It also plays a role of course that the secretary-general has a whole load of problems on his plate,” Lubbers told Dutch television in a telephone interview.

Annan could, of course, do the world a favor and relieve the “strains” by stepping down himself.

Update: Fox News reports that one of Lubbers’ accusers asserts, through her lawyer, that Annan covered up for his “old friend” Lubbers.

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