Last February, Vogue writer Joan Juliet Buck offered up a singularly tone-deaf pieces of journalism -- her glowing profile of the first lady of Syria landed on newsstands weeks before her husband, dictator Bashar Assad, ordered a spree of killing and torture against his citizens. After an avalanche of criticism, the piece, which described Asma Assad as "the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies" and praised her for encouraging "active citizenship" among Syrian youth, disappeared from Vogue's website in May.
Now Buck is back with an explanation of her actions in a Newsweek piece entitled "How I Was Duped By Mrs. Assad." Though the piece offers some new and flat-out fascinating details -- including President Assad's explanation that he became an eye doctor because, "It's very precise, and there is very little blood" -- and Buck's self-defense that she advised Vogue editors to hold the piece, Twitter already exploded in outrage hours before the story went live online.
Buck did not return requests for comment by press time, but Newsweek editor Tina Brown wrote in an editor's note that plenty of journalists have been seduced by promises of reform from Middle Eastern dictators, and few admit they were conned. "It is to Buck's credit," she wrote, "that she does."