Look–nothin’ up my sleeve, presto! In a typical exercise of Old Media “ethics,” Vogue erased from the Internet its embarrassing puff piece on the wife of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
In 2011, to much international derision, Vogue published “The Rose of the Desert,” a puff piece on Asma al-Assad, the wife of the dictator. Unfortunately for Vogue, almost immediately after the piece was published that February, the whole Assad facade began to crumble in a most precipitous way as the revolts and unrest throughout the Middle East grew, embroiling Syria along with so many others.
The fawning profile of Syria’s first lady crowed about her designer clothing, her western roots, and her serious career in banking — making Asma out to be a renaissance woman in the Middle East.
Vogue’s editors tried to defend their piece right after it was released, saying the piece was “a way of opening a window into this world a little bit.” But Vogue senior editor Chris Knutsen did sheepishly admit to The Atlantic that Syria is “not as secular as we might like.”
As the months rolled on and Bashar al-Assad racked up the deaths of perhaps as many as 9,000 of his own people, Vogue began to become discomfited over its slobbering portrayal of Asma. By March of 2012, Asma showed how uncaring of her people she is by joking that she is “the real dictator” in Syria.
Worse, as her people were being murdered in the streets by her husband’s forces, emails and Internet records prove this “rose” was shopping for luxuries like jewelry, shoes, and chandeliers from shops in England and France.
After repeated examples of the “rose” and her husband’s tyrannical propensities, Vogue decided to make its puff piece disappear down the Internet memory hole.
As the Washington Post notes this week, Vogue refuses to discuss the matter. I imagine they just hope it goes away, and everyone forgets how they slobbered all over a tyrant.
But what does this say of the establishment Old Media? It is sad to note how easily Vogue fell all over itself to lionize the wife of a murderous dictator. Has the magazine ever fawned as much over the wife of an Israeli Prime Minister? Not having seen every issue of the magazine, I admit they may have, but I’ve not seen it if they did, and no hit on the Internet for such an article can be found.
One would have thought that being the wife of an iron-fisted dictator would have been enough to cause the venerable style publication to shy away from such an absurd exercise in obliviousness.
But on the Internet, nothing is gone forever. Vogue couldn’t control the dictator’s fans. The whole article can still be found at PresidentAssad.net. And so the embarrassment continues.