WASHINGTON -- Even before President Barack Obama put his plans to strike the Syrian regime on hold, he was losing the battle of public opinion about military intervention. Part of the credit, no doubt, goes to a successful media blitz by Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and its supporters. In an interview aired on Monday night, Assad himself advanced his government's case to Charlie Rose, saying that the United States had not presented "a single shred of evidence" proving the Syrian military had used chemical weapons.Assad has always been able to skillfully parry Western journalists' criticisms of his regime -- and, at times, it has won him positive international coverage. Before the uprising, the U.S. media often described the Assad family as Westernized leaders who were trying to bring their country into the 21st century. The most infamous example was Vogue's profile of Asma Assad, which described Syria's first lady as "a thin, long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind . . . [with] a killer IQ." But even experts in the field went along: Middle East historian David Lesch wrote a biography of Bashar describing the president as a modernizer, before changing his mind during the uprising.