Thursday, August 04, 2011

Syria hired PR firm to set up Vogue article on the Assads

Remember the absurd Vogue article in February that praised Bashir Assad's family and called Asma al-assad "A Rose in the Desert"?

Now we know a little more about how that article was placed.

From The Hill:
The Syrian government hired an international public-relations firm to help coordinate a Vogue magazine profile for Asma al-Assad, Syria’s first lady.

Brown Lloyd James agreed to a $5,000-per-month contract with the presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic in November 2010 to help with the interview and photo shoot for a glowing profile of al-Assad by the high-profile fashion magazine.

The piece has been criticized heavily due to its publication in Vogue’s March issue, which coincided with the Syrian government’s crackdown on anti-regime protesters.
The firm “liaised between the Office of the First Lady and the Vogue editorial team on the scheduling of interviews and photo shoots,” according to Department of Justice records. Brown Lloyd James also agreed to an extension of the contract for another $25,000, but its work for Syria has since ended, according to the firm.

“We look forward to an enduring and mutually beneficial relationship,” the firm wrote in its contract with the Syrian government.

The PR firm’s work for Syria was successful, as Vogue published a profile of al-Assad under the title “Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert,” along with a full-page photo of the Syrian first lady.

Links to the profile of al-Assad on the Vogue website have since gone dead, sending readers to an error page. A spokeswoman for the magazine did not return messages from The Hill asking for comment on the profile.

Brown Lloyd James said in its statement that its work on behalf of Syria came at a time when the country’s relationship with the United States was changing for the better.

“Our project in Syria, for example, hewed with U.S. efforts at rapprochement and normalization of relations, which were a major strategic priority to the U.S. at the time,” the firm said. “During the time of our activity, the U.S. was engaged in a thaw in relations, highlighted by the appointment of a U.S. ambassador to the country. By complementing the efforts of traditional diplomacy, our approach seeks to establish a deeper reservoir of good will and a strengthening of international relationships. We aim to start dialogues and exchanges and develop constituencies for normalization in each country.”
It's funny that "hasbara" is considered a dirty word by anti-Israel leftists but no one seems to have a problem with Bahrainis and Libyans and Syrians hiring PR firms to burnish their images.

(h/t Folderol)