If ever one needed a straw man argument to be amateurishly constructed and as a result made horrendously ineffective, one of the go-to “experts” in this field would undoubtedly be the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog. Master Cole has seen an opportunity to kick the deeply subversive Guardian, only to flunk it.
I don't need to understand spy thrillers, cos I'm on telly!
The paper’s editor Alan Rusbridger has visited whistleblower Edward Snowden in Moscow. No secret was made of the visit; Rusbridger’s credit on the photo of Snowden holding a framed piece of the ceremonially destroyed computer internals from the spooks’ visit to the paper shows this clearly. But Cole pretends otherwise, and in doing so goes all wrong.
“The Editor Who Went In To The Cold” proclaims the post heading, alluding to The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. But neither novel nor film was set in Moscow, and the photo used was, in any case, not taken from the film, but the final scene of the BBC adaptation of Smiley’s People, this too not being set in Moscow. But then, that was all before Cole was even born.
Shoot the Photoshopper!
The post feigns concern: “Alan did leave his mobile phone at the hotel right? His spy tradecraft is clearly less than brilliant”. Ah, Master Cole’s shonky grammar gives away the authorship. Tradecraft, eh? How about that photo, then? The original showed the moment George Smiley (Alec Guinness) came face to face with his old adversary Karla (Patrick Stewart) on a winter night in Berlin.
The original monochrome image ...
Karla’s weakness – his mentally ill daughter – and his improper diversion of funds to pay for her treatment in a Swiss clinic has been discovered by one of Smiley’s old contacts. Karla’s efforts at concealment and suppression have failed; his stark choice is to come across to the West or be exposed. The two spymasters exchange one last glance before Karla is taken away to be debriefed.
... and colour still from the TV series
Sadly for Master Cole, he couldn’t find a profile photo of Rusbridger to substitute for Guinness, and in the process has messed up the latter’s neatly folded scarf. The still photo, taken from just to the left of the main camera used in that shot – compare the orientation of the cobbled surface and the searchlight in the background – was taken using monochrome film. The TV series used colour.
I’m sure Snowden and Rusbridger will love the idea of being compared to Stewart and Guinness, however amateurish the Photoshopping (Snowden looks like he’s cricked his neck). In the meantime, perhaps Master Cole could do a little of that often-absent research, so he can tell one John le Carré vehicle from another. The DVD of Smiley’s People is readily available.
So he can get his straw men sorted in future. Another fine mess, once again.