Remember that controversial profile on Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad Vogue ran in its March 2011 issue? That article, which painted the Syrian dictator’s family in a favorable light, predictably and justifiably provoked internet outrage and was subsequently removed from Vogue.com without explanation. But if there’s one thing we know about the internet, it’s that nothing ever really goes away.
The Atlantic spoke to Vogue‘s senior editor Chris Knutsen after the article came out last February:
I asked Knutsen if he thinks Bashar al-Assad is a despot. He sighed, “Yeah. I would call him an autocrat.” When I pressed him on the point, he said, “there’s no freedom there,” adding, “it’s not as secular as we might like.”
Shortly after that, the article disappeared from Vogue while reports of atrocities in Syria only increased. The Atlantic is reporting today that one copy of the article still exists, on the website of a Syrian man who runs a fan website for the Syrian dictator. The article is there in its entirety, and The Atlantic argues that a record should exist for historians who want to trace Syria’s history and see how al-Assad tried to present himself and his family to the world.
Back in August The Hill reported that the Syrian government hired an international publicity firm to work with Vogue on the profile. Vogue has often been accused of being out of touch but this story felt more like a total detachment from reality.