Back in February, Vogue took a lot of crap for publishing a puffy swoony profile of Syria’s first lady, Asma al-Assad. And rightly so–the gushy piece by Joan Juliet Buck, “Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert,” which ran in Vogue‘s March issue, ignored Syria’s abysmal human rights record and that al-Assad’s husband, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, is, to quote the Atlantic‘s Max Fisher, “an anti-American autocrat.”
Shortly after the piece was published, Fisher got in touch with Vogue senior editor Chris Knutsen, the story’s editor, to get his rationale for the profile that painted Syria in such a glowing light. (Buck described Asma al-Assad as “glamorous, young, and very chic–the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies,” and said of her husband that he is “a precise man who takes photographs and talks lovingly about his first computer.”) At the time, Knutsen stood by Buck’s story and Vogue‘s decision to publish it, saying “We felt that a personal interview with Syria’s first lady would hold strong interest for our readers…The piece was not meant in any way to be a referendum on the al-Assad regime. It was a profile of the first lady.”
But good luck trying to find that story on Vogue.com today (you get this lovely image and error message instead). Gawker noticed that the fashion bible’s site has “disappeared” the controversial piece, which would seem to imply that the mag had second thoughts about the story after all. Gawker continues, “since Vogue published an exquisitely timed fawning profile of the…first lady of Syria Asma al-Assad in February, her husband has presided over the murder of more than 300 demonstrators and jailed more than 10,000 political prisoners in a bloody crackdown. Now Asma has fled to England and Vogue has tossed the profile down the memory hole.” And if you thought that the article’s disappearance was just standard turnover for the site, other pieces from that same issue are still live.