But the truly maddening part was Sawyer trying to take this dictator and turn him into a sympathetic human being. "You like video games? ... Do you have an iPod?" Obviously, she was slavishly toeing a PR line some Syrian functionary spoon-fed her. "You're a country music fan. Faith Hill? Shania Twain?" Assad laughed and said, "Is it considered an ad?" Sawyer played along: "Yes, that's true. They get free advertising." Yippee!
The problem here is the free advertising ABC is handing the dictator of Syria. Can we imagine that if Hitler were alive and still ruling Germany with an iron fist, Sawyer would be asking him about his iPod, too?
On the second day, Feb. 6, Sawyer asked the more serious questions, about political prisoners in Syria, about Syria's role in assassinating Lebanese political leaders, its support for the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas. But Sawyer had an odd tic throughout all of this, and it's one that drives this writer mad. It was always "Americans say" or "human rights groups say" that Syria is unfree and supports terror, etc. Can't the glorious fact-checkers at ABC News determine for themselves if Syria is oppressive? Or is an obsequious tone before dictators more important than giving American viewers the impression you have a firm grasp on hard facts?
Then, once again, after a few of those questions about democracy and terror, Sawyer went back to humanizing the Assads, not just the dictator, but the "elegant, athletic" dictator's wife, Asma, the "31-year-old former career girl" who once lived in New York. What followed was a pathetic trail of ooze about the "amazing" work this woman is doing for women's and children's rights -- in the middle of this dictatorship. We're told the Assads "famously live in a modest home," and drive the kids to school, and bike together.
ABC famously forbids its reporters to wear flag pins, lest they be seen as tools of the U.S. government. But once again, in their frantic desperation to be "independent" of America, they look instead like enthusiastic apple-polishing tools for every dictatorial enemy America faces in the world.