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Rwanda, Kosovo Lost in O.J., Monica Turmoil

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Rwanda, Kosovo Lost in O.J., Monica Turmoil

Article excerpt

Holbrooke riles Overseas Press Club awards dinner

United Nations Ambassador-designate Richard Holbrooke says the media overcovered President Clinton's impeachment, Monica Lewinsky, and O.J. Simpson while underreporting the emerging crises in Rwanda and Kosovo.

Holbrooke, standing at a lectern at the recent 60th Annual Awards dinner of the Overseas Press Club (OPC) at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City, said: "Kosovo was undercovered because of Monica, and Rwanda was undercovered because of O.J. Editors should cover what is important not what is titillating."

Holbrooke says that even The New York Times is succumbing to the sleazy O.J., Monica, and impeachment stories that have dominated many of the country's front pages.

On the day that Holbrooke gave his speech, the Times was reporting that President Clinton had decided not to appeal a civil contempt court ruling against him. Federal Judge Susan Webber Wright recently ruled that President Clinton had given "false, misleading, and evasive answers" in a sworn deposition in the Paula Jones lawsuit.

Holbrooke ended his speech amid a series of shouted questions from two Pacifica Radio reporters, Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill, whose documentary, "Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria's Oil Dictatorship," won a special citation at the OPC competition. Their documentary was entered in The Lowell Thomas competition, which rewards radio news reporting of foreign affairs.

Scahill and Goodman startled the tuxedoed chamber when they announced they were rejecting the citation because Holbrooke was refusing to answer questions about America's role in Kosovo.

Tom Brokaw, the NBC news anchor who handed out the awards, told the audience that Holbrooke always was available to the press and probably answered questions of many of the reporters in the room. Brokaw then conferred briefly with Holbrooke and said he would answer questions after all 18 awards were given to the honored journalists.

Holbrooke, however, turned aside questions after an interview with E&P in which he elaborated briefly on his criticism of media coverage. …

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