"Most Conservative Wing" Unlikely Place to Find Anti-Hunger Advocate

Thisweekend's "Saturday Profile" of Josette Sheeran, the new executive director of the U.N.'s World Food Program, by reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal, opened with a gasp of surprise. You see, Sheeran once worked for the "conservative Washington Times" and is thus now "an unlikely candidate" to run a "humanitarian aid organization." (Rosenthal was doing her own"humanitarian" work during the 2004 campaign byrecycling old anti-Bush quotes.)

It's not a wholly negative profile of Sheeran, but it's far from last week's "Saturday Profile" hagiography of "Maleeha Lodhi, a vision in glittery turquoise trousers and long tunic."

"Fitting easily into the most conservative wing of the Bush administration, Josette Sheeran was from the outset an unlikely candidate to run the World Food Program, the world's largest humanitarian aid organization, which has frequently been at odds with Washington.

"She had already been appointed to senior roles in the government, with the A-list of connections common in that circle, from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Jack Kemp, the former New York congressman and free-market champion. But what made her more unusual was her long tenure as a major figure in the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church - she left it in the late 1990s - a conservative church that many Americans distrust."

(As my colleague Dan Gainor of the Business and Media Institute pointed out, "Over at The New York Times, that would be any church, not just the Moonies.")

"Since her arrival at the World Food Program, Ms. Sheeran has generally impressed staff members with her enthusiasm and grasp of the issues. But many within the agency were initially 'uncomfortable' and 'nervous' about her appointment, thinking that her background was a 'bad fit' for the mission of the agency, said one staff member who has worked in many postings over two decades. The staff member and all those contacted in researching this article spoke on condition of anonymity because they would be working under Ms. Sheeran."