Monday, September 22, 2008

John le Carré, the Sunday Times and a spy lie

The theme of newspapers spinning or distorting stories is yet again illustrated, by The Sunday Times (again).

John le Carré complains to the paper of an interview with Rod Liddle last week which had us believe that the master spy novelist was once tempted to defect to the Russians when he worked as a British intelligence officer. Not quite. At all. Le Carré explains in a letter that, as he has done in various of his fictions, he merely identified with professional eavesdroppers.

He writes: “It was in this context that I made the point that, in common with other intelligence officers who lived at close quarters with their adversaries, I had from time to time placed myself intellectually in the shoes of those on one side of the Curtain who took the short walk to the other; and that rationally and imaginatively I had understood the magnetic pull of such a step [of defection], and empathised with it.”

That was too psychologically subtle a message to flog a newspaper on. So the greys and blurs were dipped into the black ink of a lucrative screamer for a juicy misrepresentation. Think of all the years of journalistic education - and subsequent snobbery - that went into that. I understand solicitors exchanged missives.

The long letter makes another complaint which you should read over a large glass of Calvados. Click here. Mind how you go.

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