Such a nice couple


The Mediacrity website, which has become a great favorite of mine, has a heads—up on this Sunday's New York Times Magazine cover story on the Middle East's Fun Couple, Dr. and Mrs Bashar al—Assad. Just when you thought the Times had hit bottom, they haul out the jackhammer and start breaking up the bedrock for further explorations of the netherworld of journalism.

That madcap couple, Bashar al—Assad and his lady love, Asma, get a Vanity—Fairesque celebrity puffball cover story in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine. (Not online as of this writing.) The author is James Bennet, who has very neatly morphed from biased Jerusalem bureau chief into press agent for dictators.

The "d" word, by the way, is nowhere to be found in this endlessly padded piece, illustrated with the glam couple attired casually atop their lovely penthouse overlooking Suicide Bombing Square. You'll be pleasantly surprised to know that "President Bashar Al—Assad and his Western—educated wife say they are transforming Syria into an open society."

It goes on and on like. They glam couple say this utter rubbish and they say that line of spin, and our intrepid stenographer laps it up. Bennet essentially was functioning in this piece not as a reporter but as a typist and swill—catcher, posing softball questions and letting the carefully prepped couple spew their lies and evasions, unchallenged. It is paragraph after paragraph of Baathist propaganda, with a few obligatory "dissidents" thrown in to make it look like real journalism.

Thomas Lifson   7 9 05