The Economist correspondent on Syria who resides in Beirut and is assisted (like most Western journalists in the city) by the Hariri press office, is sadly indistinguishable in her propaganda reporting from the lousy reporting of the New York Times. You can lie and fabricate as long as the lie and fabrication serves the purpose of propaganda against the Syrian regime. There is a great book yet to be written: the abandonment of journalistic standards in the Western media coverage of the Syrian uprising (just as they did on Iraq leading to the war). Look at this: "A year ago when Mr Assad famously declared that “germs” were causing trouble in Syria..." Of course, that was not what he said at all but any clarification and correction in the propaganda of the press on Syria is conflated with propaganda for the Syrian regime so most people are intimidated from correcting the record. Bashshar famously did not say that: he said (very much borrowing from Israeli and American rhetoric on terrorism) that terrorist groups infiltrate into countries like germs. Big difference, I would argue. If the Economist--the best magazine there is--disregards truth and facts in this manner, what can you expect from the rest?