How did Vogue get duped by a dictator?

The latest Newsweek features an insider-y read by Joan Juliet Buck, the magazine writer who wrote the infamous 2011 Vogue puff piece on Asma al-Assad, wife of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. I’m tempted to call it a cautionary tale for journalists—and that’s clearly how it is presented, with the headline “Mrs. Assad Duped Me.”

But to read Buck’s account that way, to assume that anyone could have found themselves in her shoes, would be an insult to most journalists. Unless Buck omitted a boatload of admirable details about Mrs. Assad in this current piece or only recognized the creepiness of her visit to Syria in hindsight, she most certainly was not duped. She knowingly wrote a glowing profile—“the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies”—about the wife of a murderous tyrant.

Amy Sullivan — “Vogue’s Suck-Up to Assad: Blame the Editor: Not the Writer

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Quiz: NewsBeast vs. Harlequin Romance

When it came to the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Tina
Brown, the editor of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, truly flooded the
zone. In the week of the wedding, the two publications featured an
account from Brown herself of the big day; an interactive feature
detailing Kate’s trajectory from commoner to princess; assessments of
Kate’s dress, her sister Pippa’s dress, the hats, and the possibility
that Prince Harry and Pippa might hook up; and a piece from a sex
researcher analyzing what Kate and William’s balcony kiss revealed about
their love life. Below, we’ve printed quotes from Newsweek and Beast
articles interspersed with quotes from best-selling bodice-rippers. See
if you can tell which is which. (Names have been replaced with
pronouns.)

1) There were flowers everywhere, beautiful spring flowers in sculptured
urns on the marble floors and in crystal vases on all the white linen
tablecloths.

2) The glimmering veiled bride, driven slowly on her mystical journey.
… The tall, virile prince in the scarlet military uniform who awaits
her at the altar.

3) He looked seven feet tall, dressed as he was in full regimentals, his
scarlet coat and its gold facings immaculate.

4) The veil was a light dust of snow over the glow of her face.

5) All those years when he seemed unable to commit to her had nothing to
do with his love for her and everything to do with his fears.

6) She had taken stock of his strengths and weaknesses and decided he
was worth the effort. Somehow she’d calmed him down, fulfilled all his
needs.

7) Even in his crisp captain’s uniform … there’s a roguish hint of
dishevelment about his hair.

8) Her slender waistline was emphasized by the gown’s narrow bodice.

9) Even in her demure silk gown, a hint of full bosom rose enticingly
above the modest neckline.

10) For a long moment, their gazes held, locked in a long and silent
question as if words were no longer necessary.

11) Her gaze was level and demure, secure in the long years of his
affection. He returned it with a look that said, I trust.

12) You just succumb. You just roll over.

13) Does he always finish that fast?

Answers: 1) Julie Garwood, Mercy 2) Tina Brown, Newsweek 3) Mary Balogh,
Slightly Married 4) Tina Brown, Newsweek 5) Allison Pearson, Newsweek 6)
Jackie Collins, Thrill 7) Tina Brown, Newsweek 8) Robin Givhan, The
Daily Beast 9) Kat Martin, The Devil’s Necklace 10) Liz Carlyle, Wicked
All Day 11) Tina Brown, Newsweek 12) Tina Brown, Newsweek 13) Debby
Herbenick, The Daily Beast