The whine of the scandal pimps.

News & Politics

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan got into the spirit of Festivus last week by airing some grievances during his year-end press confab. Specifically, he had had enough from James Bone, a writer for Rupert Murdoch's Times of London.

According to a transcript, Kofi said Bone was being "cheeky" for using a particularly snide tone to ask about a Mercedes that Kofi's son, Kojo, purchased in his father's name in order to skirt import taxes on the wheels.

The usually mellow Annan smacked him down:

Hold on. Listen, James Bone. You have been behaving like an overgrown schoolboy in this room for many, many months and years. You are an embarrassment to your colleagues and to your profession. Please stop misbehaving, and please let's move on to a more serious subject.
In my efforts to debunk the right-wing mythology surrounding the UN Oil-For-Food program (which you can read here, here and here) I didn't mention Bone by name, although I did single out The Times for its small part in making a mid-level corporate scam into a massive UN scandal.

Bone isn't among the top scandal pimps, in part, I would presume, because of Britain's libel laws. You'll recall that the Telegraph, owned by Conrad Black, another right-wing media mogul, had to pay damages to George Galloway after it ran a story alleging that Galloway had directly pocketed O-F-F money, a charge that persists today only in the feverish little minds of Republican senators like Norm Coleman (R-MN).

But Bone deserves at least passing mention in the honor roll of scandal pimpery. And what's a small cog in the right's echo chamber to do when he gets called out for his lack of professionalism? Why, of course, he goes and whines like a spoiled child on the right's premiere message board, the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

That's where Bone responded to the indignity today:
It was with some amusement that I found myself the target of a decidedly undiplomatic tirade by the U.N. chief at a news conference last week. The usually mild Mr. Annan erupted in an ad hominem attack, calling me "cheeky" and belittling me as an "overgrown schoolboy."
While you're at it, you might as well throw out some innuendo:
The cause of Mr. Annan's ire was a question I put to him about a Mercedes car that his son Kojo had imported into Ghana (and which cannot, now, be traced).
Oooh, the car can't be traced! Quell scandale!

No word on why in the world Bone feels the need to "trace" the car. It's existence isn't in dispute. Kojo hasn't denied the transaction, nor has his father. Laying hands on the Mercedes would prove what, exactly? Reasonable people would take it for granted that the car is probably in Kojo's garage.

Perhaps Bone wanted to check that it wasn't made out of yellow cake from Niger.

And, of course, the source of Kofi's ire wasn't the question. It was the whole dynamic that's developed during the development of a decidedly Whitewater-esque "scandal."

Annan had been asked the same thing moments before and had said - politely -- that questions about the car should be directed to Kojo or his people. "I am neither his spokesman nor his lawyer," he said.

But more to the point, Bones has been, like many of the scandal pimps, rudely hectoring Kofi and other UN spokepersons for months.

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