Magazines and online outlets have published complimentary features about the family, often focusing on fashion and celebrity. In March 2011, just as Mr. Assad and his security forces initiated a brutal crackdown on political opponents that has led to the death of an estimated 10,000 Syrians, Vogue magazine ran a flattering profile of the first lady, describing her as walking “a determined swath cut through space with a flash of red soles,” a reference to her Christian Louboutin heels.
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.
—The New York Times reveals that it’s okay if your regime is terrible, as long as your wife is terribly good-looking and your PR-firm well-paid! (Though actually: $5,000/month is on the low-end of high-end PR retainers. Many celebrities pay twice that. I can’t find a specific thing to link to you to prove this, but trust.) (Okay here is a thing about a woman who charges PR firms and brands up to $25,000 per event to get a celebrity to show. She once got Jamie Lynn-Sigler to show up to a tampon party. The PR industry is cray.)