Even when his country was not convulsed by war, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria rarely gave televised interviews to foreigners. His session with Barbara Walters in December was a public relations disaster. So it seemed surprising a few weeks ago when Mr. Assad granted another Westerner a face-to-face chat on camera.
This time, however, the questions were posed by Jürgen Todenhöfer of Germany, a 71-year-old writer and former judge, publishing executive and onetime member of Parliament. Unlike Ms. Walters, he is known in his country as an outspoken antiwar advocate and a critic of Western policy toward the Muslim and Arab worlds. And he has castigated Western press coverage of the Syrian conflict, calling it unfairly hostile to Mr. Assad and overly sympathetic to his enemies.