Assad Led Stephanopoulos on a Wild Goose Chase

A combination of two file pictures made on August 31, 2013 shows US President Barack Obama (L) speaking to journalists on April 30, 2013 in Washington and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaking to journalists on December 9, 2010 in Paris. Obama is expected to update Americans today on the way forward in the crisis, amid expectations that Washington will launch air strikes to punish President Bashar al-Assad's regime for using chemical weapons.

George Stephanopoulos had one hell of a week: Before he landed his exclusive interview with Barack Obama, which aired Sunday, he went on a wild goose chase to Beirut, Lebanon, in the hopes of sitting down with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He had every reason to think Assad would follow through with the talk: The Syrian leader had sat down with Charlie Rose just a few days earlier and apparently wanted to talk to Stephanopoulos to rebut President Barack Obama's address on Syria. However, the New York Times reports, "Mr. Assad must have had a change of heart, because once Mr. Stephanopoulos was in Beirut, the interview was called off. Mr. Stephanopoulos returned to the United States empty-handed."

As far as journalistic "gets" go, however, a sit-down with the president is not bad. So while Stephanopolous might have wasted a very long trip, his week certainly ended on a strong note. Obama, meanwhile, also had a big week, following his Tuesday speech with an actual deal with Russia to secure chemical weapons in Syria. He told Stephanopoulos that while the process was not "smooth and disciplined and linear," it was working.