Vogue editor gushed over Assad; now hosting an Obama fundraiser

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Anna Wintour, the legendary editor of Vogue magazine, is hosting a fundraiser for Barack Obama this Thursday. In another life, this in and of itself wouldn’t be news. The political left has increasingly associated itself with the glamour and celebrity of Hollywood and high fashion. That’s not terribly interesting.

But the timing is especially curious. This morning’s New York Times profiled how Wintour’s magazine published an embarrassingly gushing spread on Asma al-Assad, the First Lady of the Syrian regime. They’ve since walked back their love affair with a public face of the regime that has slaughtered thousands of Syrian civilians in the last year. In a statement, Wintour lamented the atrocities in Syria, noting, “we were hopeful that the Assad regime would be open to a more progressive society.” (In April, the magazine noted that Mrs. Assad was “extremely thin and very well-dressed, and therefore qualified to be in Vogue.”)

What makes this worse is that it appears Vogue and other outlets were taken in by an overt public relations effort. From the Times:

Fawning treatment of world leaders — particularly attractive Western-educated ones — is nothing new. But the Assads have been especially determined to burnish their image, and hired experts to do so. The family paid the Washington public relations firm Brown Lloyd James $5,000 a month to act as a liaison between Vogue and the first lady, according to the firm.

…. And there’s this: rumors are floating that Wintour may be in line for an ambassadorship. Such positions are frequently offered to major fundraisers of presidents, so nothing strange there. But is Obama’s association with Wintour tenable?

I’ll just say this. Wintour appears to have an exceptional taste in fashion and style. Not so much on her judgement of character.

Apparently fame, not respectability, is the central feature of this president’s fundraising strategy. That’s too bad.


Matt K. Lewis