Author James Traub looks back at Annan era at the United Nations

November 14, 2006

November 14, 2006 — At a Shorenstein Center brown-bag lunch, James Traub, a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine discussed the subject of his latest book, The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power.

According to Traub, Annan’s media-friendly charm and charisma helped turn him into “the model of a modern secretary general.” “Some fusion of personality journalism and the globalization of the media,” combined with his personality and the nature of his position, made Annan “an odd kind of celebrity,” Traub said.

As is often the case with celebrity culture, though, the very personality traits that propelled Annan to iconic status also inspired the media backlash against him during his catastrophe-laced second term.

“There was a lot of buyer’s remorse in the U.N. press,” Traub said, adding that while the media arguably was once “too admiring and uncritical” of Annan, ultimately it “may have gone overboard” in its disparagement of his character.