NEW YORK - CBS News had essentially given up its pursuit of Syrian President Bashar Assad for an interview because he would not agree to go on "60 Minutes," until Charlie Rose suggested airing it on PBS.
CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager, who accompanied Rose to Damascus last weekend, said Assad and his team would not go on "60 Minutes" because they wanted to have a say how the interview would be edited, and CBS refused. Assad opted for a longer airing on PBS on Monday night.
The interview was a coup for Rose, who was pursuing it for CBS since last spring. It was the Syrian president's first TV interview with a U.S. outlet since he spoke to Barbara Walters of ABC News in December 2011, and came as President Barack Obama and Congress are considering a military response to Assad's purported use of chemical weapons in an attack against rebel forces.