Charlie Rose: Media Straight Man for Bashar el-Assad by Cameron Salisbury


Image by Michael Fleshman via Flickr

by Cameron Salisbury
Writer, Dandelion Salad
September 11, 2013

On Monday night, September 9, 2013, media personality Charlie Rose sat down with Syria’s leader Bashar el-Assad for an interview that lasted the better part of an hour. It was a remarkable conversation but not for the reasons that Charlie Rose is being treated like a conquering hero at CBS. The person who deserves the high-fives is Syria’s president.

Bashar el-Assad learned from his past encounters with the American media’s selective tampering and this time had only one requirement: no editing before broadcast. Rose got the sit-down after guaranteeing that the interview would be broadcast intact, unadulterated by biased editing.

And then an unedited Charlie Rose proceeded to turn himself into a perfect foil for the Syrian, showing himself as rabid as any other media puppet while allowing Assad to appear a principled and composed statesman.

True to form for broadcasters, Rose filled the interview with blame, finger pointing, and thinly veiled accusations that the smoothly rational, intelligent and well spoken Assad was a liar. Assad’s clear explanations, his calm demeanor in the face of Rose’s potentially explosive accusations, his ability to explain and justify his actions, showed his interrogator in stark relief as someone just a few steps this side of total lunacy.

Rose failed to get the sound bites he wanted in response to his inflammatory accusations so often that he reverted repeatedly to asking the same questions again. “We touched on this before …”, “let me bring this up again …” Assad, on the other hand, had little trouble getting his points across no matter how often he was asked. He could repeat what he’d said earlier in different words as often as Rose wished.

Assad refused to allow Rose to label the warring faction attacking Syria as ‘the opposition.’ Assad reminded Rose that the 9/11 attackers were not labeled ‘the opposition’ in the US.

He said the invading thugs were terrorists like the ones who had attack the World Trade Center, and they were supported by foreign enemies. Their dead fighters carried no identification, he said, making it impossible to discern where they came from. When Charlie insisted that nearly all of the fighters were Syrian, making this a civil war, Assad would have none of it. His family had ruled the country for decades, he said, so why the problems now?

Assad steadfastly maintained that his government had the support of the Syrian people and its army. If that were not so, he said, he would step down.

As he told Rose that the US should expect that an attack on his country could have unknowable repercussions, he gently implied that 9/11 may have been blowback. That sound bite received no play whatever in the American media.

The gassing incident, according to Assad, occurred when the terrorists, supplied by Saudi Arabia with sarin but apparently no instructions for using it, had released the deadly gas, possibly by accident, into a civilian population. This matches the account of several outlets in the US. Assad repeated again and again that the Obama administration had no proof that Syria gassed its own citizens, because there was none.

Interestingly, Assad had been offered the alternative of leaving Syria for a place of his choosing, with lots of money, from day 1 of the offensive. All he had to do was agree to step down. He rejected that ongoing offer, he said, because he would not abandon his country.

Assad is well aware of the political pressure put on Obama by the American people and Congress to abandon the idea of an attack, and is also aware that Barry is under pressure by powerful political players, domestic and international, to follow through with the folly.

Rose insinuated that Assad was responsible for the estimated one million Syrian refugees flowing into other countries. As he had at other points in the interview, Assad had the grace not to mention something that he was surely thinking: Those refugees, ordinary people who just want to live their lives in peace and safety, are largely the result of instability caused by American bombing threats.

Nice job, Charlie, but who were you working for?


[DS added the videos.]

Syria: Syrian President Bashar al Assad Charlie Rose Interview September 9, 2013

mikenagoya on Sep 9, 2013

PBS’ Charlie Rose interviews Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday, September 9, at 9 p.m. in a special presentation of CHARLIE ROSE. In this global television exclusive, Assad gives his only television interview since President Barack Obama asked Congress to approve the use of force against the Syrian regime for alleged use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people.…



SYRIA: Bashar al Assad Charlie Rose Interview September 9, 2013

Pajopeace on Sep 10, 2013


Noam Chomsky: Instead of “Illegal” Syria Threat, U.S. Should Back Chemical Weapons Ban Worldwide + Chomsky on 9/11

Chris Hedges and Rania Masri on Obama’s Syria Address + Gareth Porter: White House Culled Points in Released Intelligence Report on Syria

Leader of Exceptional Nation: U.S. Military Doesn’t Do Pinpricks by Rick Rozoff + Obama’s Speech + Transcript

Gareth Porter: US Intelligence on Syria “cherry-picked” by proponents of proposed strike

Obama’s Case for Syria Didn’t Reflect Intel Consensus by Gareth Porter

10 thoughts on “Charlie Rose: Media Straight Man for Bashar el-Assad by Cameron Salisbury

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  2. if you want a parrellel to Charlie Rose’s form of directness , check out how Oliver Stone interviewed Fidel Castro. Sometimes this is needed. just becuase we the Amercian Empire are almost always wrong , it does not make despotic regimes in other parts of the world right . Rose is actually one of the rare people in all of the media that if one has followed over the years as i have that you can trust . So , you just got to kind of work with that.

    the last line in this article ”Nice job Charlie -who are you working for ? ” is kind of an insult and comes off a bit snarky in a way cause it makes an accusation about his journalistic integrity . Rose has always been very direct and trys to get to the nuances of an issue in every interview he does. Dan Rather was opposed for being too direct to Presidents and prime ministers of countrys, including our own .

    • Another thing : CBS has a tradition of this kind of thing going back , way back . I mean look at ”60 mINUTES” with Mike Wallace. Wllace , Rather , Rose . Compare this interview with Stone and Castro . This is tame compared to what Stone does to Castro .

      • I agree with your take on Charlie Rose, Rocket. I think he handled this adeptly, with adroit consistency and restraint.

        We should never whitewash the Assad legacy, from father through son(s;) but Washington has mishandled the whole stinking show.

        The US history of war-crime is at least documented with consummate academic integrity; whereas we have not yet got enough publicly accessible detailed forensics on the Syrian backstory, from ’46 right through to the present.

        At the very least regime jets have bombed civilians, and destroyed world heritage this much is certain. None of the factions are exempt from atrocious culpability. Now today on BBC Radio 4, at last we are hearing a far more balanced, inclusive appraisal.

        It’s a mess ~ the entire post-Ottoman Levant is an imperial mess, a Western-configured disaster.

        Bashar al-Assad dances to a different tune, but initial calls for change were amply justified. The problem for all parties is, change to what for whose benefit?

        As I see it the most toxic nexus of corruption is US-Saudi-Zionist not Iran-Alawi-Orthodox-Russian. Although truth be told, there is not a lot of difference in practice.

        We are witnessing the exponential clash, not of civilizations, but of political wills. When vision is lacking, social imagination perishes.

  3. An immensely complex and painful issue. There is endemic cruelty within and the most insidious avarice without.

    How do we proceed? Not by more violence and more lies.

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