Vogue Hearts the Assads

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Max Fisher on that atrocious Vogue story featuring the beautiful Asma al-Assad and her loving husband, Bashar:

I spoke with Vogue senior editor Chris Knutsen, the story's editor, who said it was "more than a year" in the making. "We felt that a personal interview with Syria's first lady would hold strong interest for our readers," he said. "We thought we could open up that very closed world a very little bit." When I asked why they chose to dedicate so much space to praising the Assads without at least noting his brutal practices, he explained, "The piece was not meant in any way to be a referendum on the al-Assad regime. It was a profile of the first lady." He noted the country's difficult media restrictions and touted the article's passing reference to "shadow zones," saying, "we strived within those limitations to provide a balanced view of the first lady and her self-defined role as Syria's cultural ambassador."

Here is my favorite part:

But should every "thin, long-limbed" first lady enjoy such positive treatment in a magazine as prominent as Vogue, which claims an audience of 11.7 million readers? When I asked Knutsen whether Vogue would ever consider profiling the wife of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, he refused to rule it out. "That's the kind of hypothetical that -- we really do that on a case-by-case basis." Fortunately, Kim is not believed to be currently married.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/02/vogue-hearts-the-assads/71793/