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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Barbara Walters Interviews Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: A "Disconnect"

Earlier this month, Barbara Walters of ABC News returned from an interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which began with a warm handshake, to a heroine's welcome on a special edition of "Nightline" ( Observing that "Barbara is the first American television journalist allowed access to the country since a nine-month old revolution began," Bill Weir asked 82-year-old Walters how Assad compares with Saddam Hussein, Qaddafi and Mubarak. Walters's response:

"He is not a grim, strong man the way Mubarak was. He is not a wild crazy person -- at least that's the way Qaddafi seemed to us. He is calm, he is soft spoken, he is articulate, he speaks very good English, there were no ground rules, he answered every question, but there is this disconnect, Bill, between what we hear about this country -- the reports that we have seen -- and what he says, and it's hard to put the two things together."

This is not Walters's first encounter with Assad. In 2008, Walters vacationed in Syria and had a "very long lunch" with Assad and his wife, some three years after Assad ordered the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut. Following her meal, Walters reported back on her impressions of the Assads at that time (

"From my experience, he was a very intelligent, a well informed, thoughtful, we spoke perfect English, wants very much to have relations with this country, has some solutions for ending the war in Iraq. She was educated in England, worked in this country, speaks English the way I’m talking to you, lovely, intelligent. I don’t want people to say 'oh you’re brainwashed.' But that was not it. They just were very charming, intelligent. She has a cooperative, a group teaching children to be entrepreneurs with Harvard University, was raised in England, worked in this country. So this is not what we expected in terms of the leaders."

Do Walters's thoughts sound familiar to you? They should. They echo the sentiments of former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who, after meeting with Assad in Damascus in 2007, labeled Assad a "model Arab leader" (

Now consider Nicholas Kristof's most recent New York Times op-ed, entitled "Joining a Dinner in a Muslim Brotherhood Home" (, in which Kristof describes his chatter over dinner with an educated, 24-year-old hostess, who seeks to allay Western anxiety over the Muslim Brotherhood's goals in Egypt, leading Kristof to conclude:

"So a bit of nervousness is fine, but let’s not overdo the hand-wringing — or lose perspective. What’s historic in Egypt today is not so much the rise of any one party as the apparent slow emergence of democracy in the heart of the Arab world."

On the basis of his dinner banter, Kristof would have his readership ignore the Brotherhood's long history of hostility to Western values, women's rights and religious freedom (see:

Meanwhile, in an article published in Asharq al-Awsat yesterday, Mahmoud Hussein, the Brotherhood's secretary-general, suggested that the Brotherhood would annul Egypt's peace treaty with Israel (

Barbara Walters on "Nightline" is now claiming that there is a "disconnect" between the current ruthlessness in Syria and the manner in which Assad perceives this barbarism. In fact, there is no such disconnect. Assad is a cold-blooded murderer and an accomplished liar. The only "disconnect" is to be found in gullible liberal media personalities, such as Walters and Kristof, and left-leaning politicians, such as Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Jimmy Carter, who, after being wined and dined by well-mannered persons with Western academic degrees and near perfect English in the Muslim Middle East, cannot comprehend how these people are capable of such boundless savagery.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry, Jeffrey, Walters and Kristof are NOT "gullible." You don't become successful in American corporate media (or anywhere else) by being gullible.
    The words I am forced to used most often are prostitutional and/or evil, together or interchangeably.
    In addition, there is a general problem of ridiculous American education. What to expect from a country where people are judged by the firmness of their handshake and the ability to smile permanently and idiotically. You don't have to know history and other cultures, understand human nature and societies etc. just check handshake, etc. Then you have such pearls, as Bush's love of Putin (well trained to shake, smile and look into eyes - bravo KGB), American admiration for all sorts of shady foreign born scoundrels, sooo nice, sooo shaking and sooo smiling and American fear of anything authentic (from grey hair to expression of sorrow or anger)
    Smile, smile America.