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Wolfowitz Report: More Journamalism from the New York Times

The headline is: "Former World Bank Officials Detail Discord Over Wolfowitz." The right headline would be: "Former World Bank Officials Call Wolfowitz a Liar":

Former World Bank Officials Detail Discord Over Wolfowitz - New York Times: By STEVEN R. WEISMAN: Two former top officials at the World Bank have issued new statements disputing the contention of Paul D. Wolfowitz, the bank president, that they and others knew about his actions on behalf of his companion... Shaha Ali Riza....

Mr. Wolfowitz ended up helping to arrange a pay raise, promotion and transfer to the State Department for Ms. Riza, along with a path toward future promotions and salary increases, causing a furor among bank officials who charge that these were arranged without regard to normal bank rules....

There was no sign, meanwhile, that either side was following up the hints of a possible negotiated deal in which Mr. Wolfowitz might be cleared of ethical misconduct in return for his resignation as president. Indeed, the testimony of the two former officials seemed likely to complicate any desire by the bank’s board to find a way out of the crisis by somehow siding with Mr. Wolfowitz and judging his conduct to have been in good faith and in accordance with bank rules.

Mr. Wolfowitz, in his own testimony to the committee, said Monday that he had cleared his steps with relevant officials and that they knew, or should have known, the details of his arrangements at the time. On Tuesday, Ad Melkert, former head of the bank board’s ethics committee, appeared before the committee and said he was “deeply hurt by efforts to manipulate information” by Mr. Wolfowitz and his supporters, according to testimony released by the United Nations Development Program, where he now works. Mr. Melkert... said that instead of arranging for the salary and promotion package, Mr. Wolfowitz should have given the job in question to someone neutral. When he initially approved what Mr. Wolfowitz had done, Mr. Melkert said, he “naturally assumed” that the bank president had acted “in accordance with the bank’s rules and normal procedures.” In February 2006, he said, he again reviewed the facts and declared the matter closed, without knowing all “terms and conditions.”...

A second official disputing Mr. Wolfowitz revealed an equally bitter tone in their relations. Roberto Danino, a former prime minister of Peru who was the bank’s general counsel in 2005, said he had a quick falling-out with the new bank president over the handling of Ms. Riza’s case.... Danino said that Mr. Wolfowitz’s desire to maintain contact with Ms. Riza while both worked at the bank violated bank rules and that the president had “acted incorrectly” when he gave her a raise and promotion package that “far exceeded” what was necessary. He said that the package had not been “disclosed or approved by” the bank board, its ethics committee or himself, and that it had been “granted over the objections” of Xavier Coll, a vice president for human resources. Dr. Coll, a physician from Spain and an expert on health programs for the poor, declined to comment or make his own testimony public.

Mr. Danino said his relations with Mr. Wolfowitz had spiraled downward, leading to his being “barred from any meaningful professional contact” with the bank president and consequently his resignation last year.

Whenever I talk to reporters like this, they almost invariably say: "I agree. It's a misleading and inaccurate headline. But I don't write the headlines--the editors do." The reporters don't understand that the headline is part of their story, the most important part. And that their editors are burning their reporters' credibility when they attach misleading headlines to stories.

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