COMMENTS: Intellectual Godfather

The long-running fight over the tenure of Paul Wolfowitz as president of the World Bank finally attracted attention from the networks. The first time a correspondent was assigned to the dispute was on the day it was over. Wolfowitz resigned, NBC's Andrea Mitchell noted, but only after he had extracted a statement from the bank's board to the effect that he had no reason to go. Specifically the board acknowledged "that Wolfowitz had at least thought he was acting ethically," as Mitchell put it. CBS mentioned the story only in passing.

ABC's Jonathan Karl explained that Wolfowitz "ruffled feathers" with the bank's bureaucracy even before he ran into trouble over his "girlfriend" Shaha Riza, a colleague at the bank. The ethics committee "told him to transfer Riza to avoid a conflict of interest. He did, giving her a $60,000 pay raise in the process. He said he was simply compensating her for damage to her career. He insisted he did nothing wrong."

Karl seemed to concede that the underlying reason this was news was not the bank or the girlfriend but because of Wolfowitz' previous job. When he was at the Pentagon, he was called "the intellectual godfather of the Iraq War." Karl even used his signature soundbite: "I am reasonably certain that they will greet us as liberators."


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