There’s a bit of tittering, and Twittering, on the Internet about a Washington “power couple” and the photographs of their home in a piece in the Washington puff-magazine called the Washingtonian. Most are treating the pictures as unintentionally hilarious, and I can see that — the Photoshop work is crude indeed.
Up against the wall
But another aspect struck me, one that Vladimir Putin would instantly spot but that Americans would generally be slow to pick up on. I see, now, that others have seen this as well: Former reporter Jay Carney, now propaganda minister/spokesman for President Obama, and his wife Clair Shipman, long time propaganda writer for ABC News, have Soviet propaganda posters decorating their home. Three are visible in this image:
The most obvious (over Claire Shipman’s shoulder) featuring the red-coated man and “Tbl,” is a call to join the Red Army to fight Americans. Here are close ups of two of the three posters.
Staged, and yet…
The pictures in the article are carefully staged. Each of the subjects is given specific clothes to wear, and the photo captions feature the price of the clothing and accessories and where they can be purchased.
But think about this: No one, not Carney or Shipman, nor any of the reporters, camera crew, editors (or Photoshop crew!) thought twice about the idea of anti-American Soviet propaganda posters being prominently visible in the home where this “power couple of the Beltway elite” raise their children. None of them batted an eye at this person, one of the most reported on in the free world, and whose job is to cover for the president, featuring posters that covered for the failing Soviet Union. Carney, before becoming the highly-newsworthy political figure, reported on such figures himself for decades. And none of this fazed him, or them, at all.
Other famous Obama posters
I am reminded of Obama when he was first running for President. His Houston campaign headquarters prominently featured posters and flags of Communist mass-murderer and terrorist Che Guevara behind the receptionist’s desk. There was another elsewhere in the same Houston office. They were only removed when some outsider finally complained about the “optics” and a flap arose in the blogosphere over them.
‘Intimidating and intriguing’
Both Carney and Shipman have an affinity for the old Soviet regime. They met, in fact, while both were stationed in Moscow as reporters covering (for) the Soviets’ doings. He became fluent in Russian (earning a B.A. in Russian Studies at Yale) back when communism was trendy, but sadly (for him), by the time he was actually posted to Moscow, it was covering the collapse of the Soviet Union. Shipman’s history is similar:
Shipman’s passion for the Soviet Union was sparked in 1985 when, as a Columbia University senior, she spent a summer studying Russian in St. Petersburg. … ‘Gorbachev had just come to power, and it was still the Soviet Union—intimidating and intriguing,’ she says.”
Laughs and questions
But neither thought it might look odd to their American audience to have the Soviet Union-flogging posters on their wall. And, of course, there are other aspects. The picture that gets the most laughs is this one, showing the absolutely amateurish Photoshop work (including replicating one of their children’s disembodied fingers):
Many are joking about the badly Photoshopped books on the left and right. There are dozens, with the ones on the right often being mirror-images of the ones on the left:
Twitchy, a popular best-of-Twitter feed, collected the snark.
The mocking grew loudest when young Hugo’s duplicate pinky was discovered.
‘OMG. They even forgot to erase the kid’s finger in the fake book Photoshop,’ read one tweet.
‘Pfft! Like YOU don’t use kids’ fingers for bookends,’ came a reply.
Books on their shelves, and minds
It is interesting to me that Claire Shipman brags about her reading, but her reading list consists of multiple children’s books and a biography of Russian (she wasn’t, quite) Catherine the Great. And yet … there were books on the Carney/Shipman shelves that someone at the Washingtonian decided had to be covered up. I wonder what those might have been?
The Photoshop folks were working from a high-resolution image, so that they could read the original book titles — but by the time the story was published, those titles are essentially unreadable anyway. But none of them spotted, or thought about, the Mikhail Gorbachev statuette on Carney’s shelf in the same picture, still recognizable on the lower right.
So what DID they decide to hide? What books were considered worse to show than Soviet propaganda posters?
===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle