Was Sarkozy Sitting or Standing When He Assaulted the Russian Minister?

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BBC News has, over the years, perfected its own special variety of humor. There you are on the website, cruising along through one of their thousands of meticulously researched, staggeringly speedy anonymous reports when you notice an obvious wink--to the reader? To other BBC writers? It's never entirely clear. You never know when the fit of dry levity is going to strike, either, although it certainly seems disproportionately present in stories about the French.

For example: apparently there is a WikiLeak cable the BBC has unearthed that discusses an incident between President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. It occurred "a few weeks after Russia's war with Georgia," when "Moscow was suspected of back-tracking on the terms of its truce with Georgia, which Mr. Sarkozy had helped to broker." Here's the part of the US diplomatic cable quoted:

"Sarkozy caught the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by the lapel of his jacket, and called him a liar."

Far be it from the Brits to leave it at that. The conclusion of the news story, as seen on the BBC News website:

The cable released by Wikileaks does not specify whether Mr Sarkozy, famous for his diminutive stature (1.65m, 5' 5''), was sitting or standing when he reportedly grabbed Mr Lavrov, who is known for his tall, athletic figure.

Admittedly, this is a good question. If one imagines Sarkozy knocking aside a coffee pot to grab the Russian as they sit at a table, that's one thing. If he's jumping up like a Labrador Retriever to reach the lapels, however, we really have to rethink this scene.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.