Fox News senior correspondent Eric Shawn misquoted the recent report of the independent committee investigating the United Nations oil-for-food program in order to suggest that the report had glossed over incriminating evidence against U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Reporting on the resignation of two senior investigators from the commission, led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul A. Volcker, Shawn purported to quote the committee's findings about whether Annan improperly intervened on behalf of Cotecna Inspection Services SA, a Swiss firm that employed his son, Kojo, to help the firm win a U.N. contract in 1998. In fact, Shawn quoted a phrase from the committee's findings on a different question.
From the April 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
SHAWN: Two top Volcker committee investigators have quit, saying Volcker's report three weeks ago was too soft on Kofi Annan. The committee says they left because their work was completed. The report claims there was, quote, "not reasonably sufficient" evidence that Mr. Annan influenced the selection of the major oil-for-food contractor, Cotecna, where his son, Kojo, worked.
In fact, on the question of whether Annan influenced the selection of Cotecna, the committee's March 29 interim report did not use the phrase "not reasonably sufficient." On the contrary, the committee's finding was unequivocal. "There is no evidence that the selection of Cotecna in 1998 was subject to any affirmative or improper influence of the Secretary-General in the bidding or selection process," the report stated.
The committee used the phrase "not reasonably sufficient" to characterize the evidence concerning an entirely different question -- whether Annan was even aware in 1998 that Cotecna was competing for the U.N. contract. The committee found that "[i]n 1998, the Secretary-General knew of Cotecna's employment of his son." It then observed: "If he knew also of the Cotecna proposal and the bidding process, a potential conflict of interest would have existed, and certainly the appearance of a conflict of interest." But after examining the evidence, it stated:
The committee finds: Weighing all of the evidence presented in this Report and the credibility of the witnesses, that the evidence is not reasonably sufficient to show that the Secretary-General knew that Cotecna had submitted a bid on the humanitarian inspection contract in 1998.
Media Matters for America has previously documented Shawn distorting facts to attack Annan.