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Fox News "Misstates" UN "Stingy" Remark

Reported by Melanie - December 30, 2004

Twice today (December 30, 2004) during Your World w/Neil Cavuto, Fox News seriously mislead its viewers about what UN official Jan Egeland said about countries being "stingy" in aid pledges made in the face of the earthquake and tsunami in SE Asia.

I watched Monday's press conference during which the "stingy" remark was made. I heard the reporter's question and my ears perked up. I was specifically listening to hear whether or not Jan Egeland, the UN's Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, would actually name the countries he thought were being "stingy." In fact, Egeland did not name names. This is what he said:

"We were more generous when we were less rich, many of the rich countries," Egeland said Monday. "And it is beyond me, why are we so stingy, really. ... Even Christmas time should remind many Western countries at least how rich we have become."

He did not single out the United States by name. Yet this is what was said today on Your World w/Neil Cavuto, twice no less:

Molly Henneberg reporting from Crawford, TX: "The US has been fielding some criticism from a UN official, there you see him, Jan Egeland, he's seen on the left of your screen here, who said on Monday that the US and other Western nations have been stingy with their tsunami relief money."

Then Stuart Varney, substituting for Neil Cavuto, speaking to Meredith Whitney, a Fox News business analyst: "How did you feel when that UN official called the US and other Western countries stingy? What was your first reaction?"

COMMENT: Again, Egeland did not name the United States in his remark, but saying he did sure stirs up anger against the UN, doesn't it? Either Fox News is very bad at fact checking or it's joining other entities (for example the Heritage Foundation) in misstating what Egeland said in the radical right's on-going campaign against the United Nations for its failure to bow to the will of the Bush administration. Fox will get back to the Oil-for-Food "scandal" later. For now, they're seizing this while the fire's hot.

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