I Was Kidnapped While Reporting in Syria. The Risk Wasn’t Worth It
By Tom A. Peter
About a year and a half ago, I found myself in the living room of a luxury condominium overlooking a beach in Naples, Florida. I’d been reporting in the Middle East, and, for the first time in two years, had returned home to the U.S. for a visit. My family and I were making the holiday rounds, which brought us to this high-rise, the home of my half-brother’s friend’s wealthy relatives. I’d hoped to just enjoy the view. Instead I got cornered by small talk.
Our hostess asked where I lived. In a small town in southern Turkey, I answered. Inevitably, she asked what I did there. “I’m a journalist covering Syria.”
Without hesitation, she bore in: “So, is your reporting truthful?” She inserted the question the way someone might confront a WWE wrestler about whether what happens in the ring is real. We all know it’s made up. Just admit it.
She continued to press, telling me she was certain the media wasn’t giving her the whole story. She wanted to know why. She knew that President Bashar al-Assad was bad, but who exactly were the people in the opposition? (This was the December 2012, when moderates still held sway in the Syrian resistance.)
“I wrote a story on that very issue last week before I came home,” I told her. There was also an article on it in the day’s New York Times, a copy of which sat on her coffee table. I pointed to it: “You’ll see there’s also a lengthy article examining that question in today’s paper.”