Headlines shown on screen during the Oprah interview to paint British media coverage as hostile and ‘racist’ were mocked up by the the production company, often edited to remove context – and a third of them came from foreign media, a new analysis revealed today.
The two-hour programme, which aired on CBS This Morning, included cuttings of stories intended to confirm the Sussexes’ claim that UK newspapers were guilty of peddling racist abuse against Meghan.
One segment showed a headline about how ‘Meghan’s seed will taint our Royal Family’ without noting that the story was actually exposing racist comments made by a model.
Another story that appeared during the tell-all interview referred to a BBC programme that had portrayed Meghan as a ‘trailer trash American’.
The actual article included an interview with actress Gbemisola Ikunelo, who created the character, explaining she invented it to find ‘humour in the ridiculous’ because it is ‘the opposite of how the Duchess really behaves’.
Meanwhile, 11 of more than 30 headlines shown during the interview were from American and Australian publications, according research by the Telegraph.
WHAT THEY SHOWED: The headline read ‘BBC comedy portrays Meghan Markle as ”trailer trash” American who threatens to knife Kate Middleton’. But the character was actually meant to be the opposite of what Meghan was really like
IN REAL LIFE: The article as it appeared on the Telegraph’s website – with Defence spelled the English way, not how the Americans mocked it up – makes it clear that the comedienne portraying Meghan as ‘trailer trash’ was doing so as it was ‘finging humour’ in a ‘ridiculous’ idea
How it appeared: A Telegraph article appeared in the same segment about hostile newspaper coverage, shortly after the commentator described the reporting as ‘standing apart from what we’ve seen for any other royal’.
The reality: The headline read ‘BBC comedy portrays Meghan Markle as ”trailer trash” American who threatens to knife Kate Middleton’.
But the story, from June 2019, included quotes from comedian Gbemisola Ikunelo, who voiced the character and said she conceived it as the opposite of Meghan to ‘find humour in the ridiculous’.
‘Anybody who has seen anything of Meghan Markle in public will know that she seems incredibly agreeable and friendly, always smiling,’ she said.
WHAT THEY SHOWED: Oprah’s team reduced this Telegraph article to a headline suggesting the Duchess ‘doesn’t speak our language’
IN REAL LIFE: The piece – an opinion column – has the subdeck that explains it is critiquing the Duchess’s ‘earnest gushing’ which the writer finds to be ‘like nails down a blackboard’
How it appeared: Another Telegraph story flashed up as Oprah suggested Meghan had been the victim of media attacks soon after joining the Royal Family, and shortly after a commentator described the ‘racial overtones’ of media coverage.
The reality: The article, by the sketch writer Michael Deacon, appeared two months ago – after the couple had left the UK.
It claimed Meghan ‘speaks Californian … a hippie version of corporate management-speak’, before listing a series of gushing ‘Woke’ phrases.
The story was sub-headed: ‘No doubt the Duchess means well. But to jaded British ears, her earnest gushing is like nails down a blackboard.’
WHAT THEY SHOWED: The mocked-up headline purported to be from this website is reduced to a single quote and appeared as a commentator discussed ‘undeniable racist overtones’ in media coverage
IN REAL LIFE: The story – which was on the front of that day’s Mail On Sunday – was a story exposing the suspension of the girlfriend of the UKIP leader for using the racist phrase that appeared in the headline. Producers removed all that context
How it appeared: A Mail On Sunday article – which was also posted onto MailOnline – appeared as a commentator discussed ‘undeniable racist overtones’ in media coverage.
The reality: It was actually a piece exposing racist remarks about the Duchess by Jo Marney, the then girlfriend of former Ukip leader Henry Bolton.
The full online headline said Marney had been suspended from the party over the comments.
The front page headline in print for the same story, from January 2018 – ‘Vile Racist Attack on Meghan by Mistress of Ukip Chief’ – was not shown in the programme.
WHAT THEY SHOWED: The interview flashed up a Guardian headline apparently referring neutrally to Danny Baker talking about comparing Archie to ‘a chimp’
IN REAL LIFE? No such headline is immediately available on the Guardian’s website. This, from the aftermath of Baker’s sacking, is their story about him talking about his Tweet and apologising for it
How it appeared: Following comments about ‘racist abuse’ Meghan allegedly suffered from the press was a headline in the Guardian referring to a notorious tweet by BBC radio presenter Danny Baker.
The BBC Radio 5 Live host sparked outrage after he uploaded this image of a couple clinging on to a monkey wearing a suit with the caption: ‘Royal baby leaves hospital’
The reality: Baker’s 2019 tweet showing a couple with a monkey tagged ‘Royal baby leaves hospital’ prompted an outcry and led to him being sacked by the BBC.
Many viewed the tweet as racist. However, after the story was initially published, the 61-year-old broadcaster denied this and called it a ‘stupid unthinking gag’ about class.
Baker said that he was unaware of who the mother of the baby even was: ‘I didn’t know which of our royal princesses had given birth.
‘My go-to photo when any posh people have a baby is this absurd chimpanzee in a top hat leaving the hospital. Had it not been Meghan – perfectly good joke. I was trying to make a point about class and it’s just preposterous.’
Baker’s response to the allegation of racism was not mentioned in the Oprah broadcast.
A 2016 column by Boris Johnson’s sister, Rachel was shown as a single sentence, ‘Rich and exotic DNA, Miss Markle’s mother is a dread-locked African-American lady from the wrong side of the tracks…’
How it appeared: A 2016 column by Boris Johnson’s sister, Rachel was shown as a single sentence, ‘Rich and exotic DNA, Miss Markle’s mother is a dread-locked African-American lady from the wrong side of the tracks…’ It came in a segment describing the ‘racist abuse’ Meghan allegedly received.
The reality: The actual comment piece, which appeared in the Mail On Sunday and was also posted on MailOnline, described Meghan as genetically ‘blessed’.
It said she would help the Windsors ‘thicken their watery, thin blue blood and Spencer pale skin and ginger hair with some rich and exotic DNA’, before lauding the duchess for her acting success and social conscience.
Following criticism at the time, Rachel Johnson explained that the article ‘celebrated the fact that she was mixed race’ – although she admitted she regretted the phrasing.
She told the Express: ‘I meant that in marvellous contrast to the gingery white blood of his own blood family on his maternal side. But it didn’t go down well and I hereby apologise Harry.’
The interview showed a series of other cuttings from newspaper and magazine stories as the commentator described ‘a daily onslaught of vitriol and condemnation from the UK press
However, a third of the headlines shown were also taken from foreign media, according to the Telegraph’s analysis
How it appeared: The interview showed a series of other cuttings from newspaper and magazine stories as the commentator described ‘a daily onslaught of vitriol and condemnation from the UK press.’
The reality: A third of the headlines shown were also taken from foreign media, according to the Telegraph’s analysis.
One said ‘Harry trapped in marriage from hell!’ – but that was taken from the American tabloid the National Enquirer.
Another National Enquirer headline was also used which said ‘Monster Meghan exposed!’
In total 11 of more than 30 headlines shown during the interview were from American and Australian tabloids, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Of the 23 headlines from British news outlets which featured, around 14 were not published in print and only appeared online.
Other foreign publications used included Us Weekly, a celebrity magazine based in New York, and the Australia-based New Idea magazine.