Obama, Assad interviews show TV remains viable political platform

Published: Monday, Sept. 9 2013 7:41 a.m. MDT

In this frame grab from video taken Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, and provided by "CBS This Morning," Syrian President Bashar Assad responds to a question from journalist Charlie Rose during an interview in Damascus, Syria. Assad warned in the interview broadcast Monday on CBS there will be retaliation against the U.S. for any military strike launched in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack. Assad said, "You should expect everything."

Associated Press

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This week Congress will vote whether to authorize U.S. military action against the Syrian government for using chemical weapons last month amidst a bloody civil way.

At a critical juncture and with so much at stake, the two men at the center of a roiling debate — President Barack Obama and his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad — have both chosen to make a final public-relations push in front of TV cameras.

“President Obama will do a series of TV interviews with six outlets in advance of his speech Tuesday making the case for military action in Syria,” Aaron Blake reported for the Washington Post. “Obama will sit down with PBS, CNN, Fox News, ABC, CBS and NBC for interviews airing Monday night, according to White House officials.”

Politico’s Josh Gerstein wrote Monday, “During his nearly five years in office, Obama has gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid high-stakes, nighttime White House speeches. His advisers have repeatedly denigrated the value of Oval Office addresses, accusing promoters of such talks as being out of touch with modern media realities.

“Now the president is preparing to deliver precisely such a high-profile address Tuesday night, giving in to pressure from lawmakers demanding a no-holds-barred White House effort to sell the public on the wisdom of a military response to Syria’s alleged chemical weapons use.”

On Sunday in Damascus, Assad sat down with CBS and PBS journalist Charlie Rose for an interview that PBS is hailing as the Syrian president’s “first interview with an American television outlet in nearly two years.”

Huffington Post associate editor Katherine Fung wrote, “The full interview will air on the ‘Charlie Rose Show’ Monday night — the same day as President Obama's recorded interviews with six networks. Portions of the interview will also air on Monday's ‘CBS This Morning,’ and other platforms across CBS News.”

Obama and Assad opted for amplified televised exposure despite the various social media both men frequent, such as Obama’s Twitter feed and Assad’s Instagram account.

Email: jaskar@desnews.com

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