In an impressive scoop, The Guardian has acquired a cache of emails from embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. While many emails shed a light on Assad’s personal life or the crackdown of his people, they also shine a light on his dealings with Western media outlets. Two U.S. networks, CNN and ABC News, are mentioned in the Assad emails.
ABC News’ Barbara Walters of course had an exclusive interview with Assad last December. The email in question is from ABC News managing editor of international coverage, Tom Nagorski. Nagorski was corresponding with one of Assad’s media advisers (see below) about the details of the interview. It looks as though the new ABC News/Yahoo! partnership played a big role in the pitch:
Wonderful to hear from you, Sheherazad.
To answer your questions:
We hope for an hour-long interview, in the first days of December if possible.
The interview will be broadcast across ABC News platforms – including World News, Good Morning America, This Week, ABC Radio, a full edition of Nightline, and full-length treatment across the digital space (for ABC News this now includes Yahoo as well –which means you can reach as many as 100 million people. ABC News and Yahoo recently joined forces – which is another reason why so many people now bring their interviews to us).
The exact dates/times for all these broadcasts depends on when the interview is done. When it was scheduled for November 13 we had planned to begin the broadcasts on our return to New York two days later (would have been today, actually), along with release of the full interview.
Once again, if you have any follow-up questions you can call me anytime.
All the best and please be in touch.
As for those media advisers: both of them were Western-educated women, and one of them boasted that a fake Twitter account spewing pro-Assad messages was featured on CNN:
Much of Assad’s media advice comes from two young US-educated Syrian women, Sheherazad Jaafari and Hadeel al-Al. Both regularly stress to Assad, who uses the address sam@alshahba, the importance of social media, and particularly the importance of intervening in online discussions. At one point, Jaafari boasts that CNN has fallen for a nom-de-guerre that she set up to post pro-regime remarks. The emails also reveal that the media team has convinced Twitter to close accounts that purport to represent the Syrian regime.