Socialist Worker

From Russia with mirth – the media and the poisoned spy

Issue No. 2029

Socialist Worker has been leaked the details of a conversation overheard in the editor’s office at a popular newspaper.

Editor: Great story, this Russian spy poisoning business. What’s the latest?

Minion: Litvinenko died last night, boss.

Editor: Do we know who dunnit?

Minion: Well boss, it’s all a bit “Colonel Mustard in the library with the Pollonium”.

Editor: Great headline. Let’s go with that then!

Minion: No boss, that’s a board game. They say the Russians did it.

Editor: Russians, eh? Murdering commie bastards.

Minion: The Soviet Union collapsed 15 years ago, boss. They’ve got ‘democracy’ now.

Editor: No matter. Splash it all over the front page. Again. It’s like a James Bond movie. Life imitates art! The advertisers love it: we’ve got ads for James Bond wrist watches, James Bond mobile phones, cars, the lot. We’re raking it in.

Minion: Funny innit, boss? When our spies bump people off we make a blockbuster film about it.

Editor: Ah, but we only do that sort of think in the movies, the Russians do it for real.

Minion: What about that David Shayler bloke? Worked for MI5, blew the whistle on British secret services assassinating people in Libya.

Editor: Traitor! Pollonium’s too good for him.

Minion: And then there was Peter Wright, the former spook who said MI5 tried to kill Nasser and “burgled and bugged its way around”.

Editor: Absolutely right, MI5 has the finest buggers. I was at Eton with some of them. Wasn’t Litvinenko a spy too?

Minion: Yes boss, he defected, claimed asylum.

Editor: Right, better hold those articles on page two: “Asylum scum flood country”, and “East Europeans steal our jobs”. Run them next week when it all blows over…

You know, the Russians are such losers. When we want to assassinate people we just invade their country. Or let the Israelis do it.

Minion: Shall we do a big background piece on Chechnya? That was why Litvinenko defected. Horrible situation there: torture, disappearances, hundreds of thousands of dead. Just like Iraq. We never do anything on it.

Editor: Too bloody right we don’t, nobody gives a toss. Just another bunch of uppity towel-heads. Putin’s done a good job sorting them out, actually – Blair said so himself. That Putin’s a jolly fine chap come to think of it...

Minion: Er, boss, are the Russians are our allies in the war on terror or are they murdering commie bastards?

Editor: Who cares? That’s the thing about this spy story – gets Iraq off the front pages, whiff of the Cold War, makes people feel we’re the goodies fighting the baddies again, we sell lots of papers… everybody wins! Find me a pic of Putin with an eye-patch stroking a white cat.

Minion: We still need a headline. Something James-Bondy, “From Russia with something-or-other.”

Secretary: Will you be lunching at the Carlton as usual, Sir?

Minion: That’s it: “From Russia with Lunch.”

Editor: Mmm, yes please!

Minion: No boss, that’s the headline.

Editor: Inside we can do “Mrs Litvinenko: my sorrow.” Then we can print photos of all those Bond girls in bikinis.

Minion: But we did that yesterday, boss…

(Continues day after day in all newspapers until everyone’s thoroughly sick of the hypocrisy.)

As leaked to Dave Crouch

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Article information

Sat 2 Dec 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2029
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