Update (5:02 p.m.) Fox News executives confirmed that, yes, Dennis Kucinich recorded an interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad this week. But he wasn't alone -- he was accompanied by Fox's Greg Palkot, and the interview will air at 6 p.m. Wednesday night during a two-hour Special Report with Bret Baier.
A few things of note: the interview came together rather quickly, unlike CBS's efforts to interview Assad, probably because of Kucinich's previously established relationship with the Syrian leader. There were also no restrictions put on the questions asked, and it was filmed by a Syrian camera crew. The statement from Fox’s executive vice president of news Michael Clemente, per Politico's Mike Allen:
Michael Clemente, Fox’s executive vice president of news, said in a statement: “On Saturday, Sept. 7, ... Dennis Kucinich advised me that he believed he could secure an interview with … Assad, whom he had met on previous occasions. At the time, it appeared that an American military attack on Syria was imminent, and I decided that Kucinich should pursue the interview, on condition that Fox News journalists would also be included.”
“The interview, shot by agreement by a Syrian camera crew, was conducted with no restrictions on the questions that could be asked. … Greg Palkot, a veteran of Middle East coverage, conducted the interview beside Kucinich … I was present in the control room and studio at the Presidential Palace in Damascus for the duration. Kucinich was not there in the capacity of a journalist nor was he representing Fox News in that role.”
Original After nearly two years of shunning American media, it seems Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has become quite the Chatty Cathy. He reportedly sat down for his second American interview this month — this time with Fox News' Dennis Kucinich — on Tuesday.
It's odd that he decides to open up right around the time the U.S. came so close to bombing his country for using chemical weapons, no? Just over a week after Assad was interviewed by Charlie Rose, ITV News and the Sunday Times' Hala Jabar report the Syrian leader was interviewed by former U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich for Fox News on Tuesday. When the interview will air is currently unclear, though Jabar suspects the next few days. Kucinich and Fox News are both remaining tight-lipped about the conversation, too: Buzzfeed's Rosie Gray couldn't get confirmation from either camp despite numerous attempts.
Previously, the last time Assad spoke with an American news anchor was an interview with Barbara Walters in December 2011. How long Kucinich and Fox have been working to organize an interview with Assad will be interesting to hear, considering it took CBS months to finally book the controversial Syrian president.
It's interesting that Fox News sent Kucinich to interview Assad and not, say, their hard news front man Chris Wallace. When President Obama does a round of interviews with six major networks, Wallace gets the call. But Assad talks to Kucinich, and the former congressman has an interesting history with the brutal dictator responsible for over 100,000 deaths in his own country. Kucinich visited Assad in June 2011 and came under fire for apparently supporting the regime just as the civil war was beginning. Kucinich was quoted by Syrian media saying Assad was "highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians," at a press conference. The then-Congressman claimed the Syrian media misquoted him. At the time, only 1,400 people had died during the conflict.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.