Entertainment

Meghan and Harry Oprah interview: US media rides to Duchess’s defence


American media outlets are responding after Meghan Markle levelled astonishing claims of racism, cruelty and emotional neglect at the Royal Family, with some critical of her appeals for pity, but most taking her side. 

Some were sharply critical of Meghan, including a New York Post columnist calling her a ‘manipulative piece of work’ and saying her answers to Oprah were ‘full of bull’ and that she had been ‘pitiless and cruel’ towards her husband’s family while demanding the same pity for herself. 

But most pundits sided with Meghan, with a CNN commentator saying the interview laid bare ‘hypocrisy’ within the Palace, while a Wall Street Journal writer described the monarchy as an ‘oppressive system’ from which Harry had ‘escaped’.  

The interview, the most significant with a royal in over two decades, also exposed a stark difference of opinion between the US – where newspapers and social media users were broadly supportive of Meghan – and the UK – where she came in for criticism.

Meghan and Harry sat down for their bombshell interview with Oprah on Sunday night, with US news outlets rushing to her defence afterwards

Broadcast pundits react with sympathy to Meghan’s revelation that she had suicidal thoughts

On CBS This Morning, Gayle King, who is close friends with Oprah Winfrey, called Meghan ‘brave’ for opening up about her suicidal thoughts in the interview. 

‘I got very choked up just listening to her explain how difficult it is to seek help, and then to be told no, no there’s nothing we can do,’ she said. 

King also revealed that the interview was not held at her home as had been previously rumored.

Other commentators also expressed sympathy for Meghan, who claimed that her attempts to seek referrals for counseling were rebuffed by Palace staff. 

On CBS This Morning, Gayle King, who is close friends with Oprah Winfrey, called Meghan 'brave' for opening up about her suicidal thoughts in the interview

On CBS This Morning, Gayle King, who is close friends with Oprah Winfrey, called Meghan ‘brave’ for opening up about her suicidal thoughts in the interview

Hoda Kotb

Jenna Bush

Today Show co-hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush called the interview ‘nuclear’ and praised Meghan as ‘honest’

‘It’s really sort of seismic to hear a member of the Royal Family say that she herself felt that much in crisis,’ Michelle Tauber wrote for People Magazine. 

On NBC’s Today Show, Hoda Kotb said of the interview: ‘People keep calling it nuclear, it was.’ 

‘I sort of feel like it’s the day after the Super Bowl, I ate too much, I dreamed about Royals,’ co-host Jenna Bush added. 

‘There were so many things that she was honest about,’ Bush added of Meghan.  

However, British pundit Piers Morgan appeared on Fox & Friends and accused Meghan of ‘outrageous lies,’ calling the interview a ‘complete and utter betrayal’ of the Royal Family.  

British pundit Piers Morgan appeared on Fox & Friends and accused Meghan of 'outrageous lies,' calling the interview a 'complete and utter betrayal'

British pundit Piers Morgan appeared on Fox & Friends and accused Meghan of ‘outrageous lies,’ calling the interview a ‘complete and utter betrayal’

He called the interview ‘two hours of disingenuous horrible, one-sided, self-serving, delusional claptrap.’

‘I think it was the acting performance of her life,’ he said of Meghan. ‘It was designed to portray her as the ultimate victim.’

Morgan also slammed Harry for participating, asking ‘what is [he] thinking?’ 

‘It is a dereliction of all loyalty to his country,’ he added. 

Columnists claim interview exposes ‘hypocrisy and oppression’ in the British monarchy 

Forbes said Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah had exposed the ‘alleged racism and stoicism’ behind the royals’ fairy tale image. 

Forbes wrote: ‘As an American, Meghan Markle said her views of royalty were shaped by fairy tales. She seemed to step into that fantasy when she wed Prince Harry in 2018. 

CNN columnist Holly Thomas said the interview exposed 'palace hypocrisy'

CNN columnist Holly Thomas said the interview exposed ‘palace hypocrisy’

‘But the reality she allegedly encountered — one of racism, and an official stoicism that silenced her and her closest friends —led the first royal of color to consider taking her own life.’

In the New York Times, writer Ellen Barry recalled speaking to black Britons at the time of Meghan and Harry’s marriage, saying it ‘really meant something’ to them – and that she ‘hates to think’ what their reaction to this interview will be.

Meanwhile Mark Landler wrote that Meghan had described ‘a royal life that began as a fairy tale but quickly turned suffocating and cruel.

‘Meghan’s blunt answers raised the combustible issues of race and privilege in the most rarefied echelon of British society,’ he added.

A CNN columnist drew a comparison between Buckingham Palace’s investigation into claims of bullying against Meghan – aired in the days before the interview – and its defence of Prince Andrew amid claims about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.

‘Harry and Meghan expose palace hypocrisy,’ read the headline on an opinion piece by writer Holly Thomas. 

CNN ran an opinion piece which compared Buckingham Palace's treatment of Harry and Meghan with Prince Andrew, saying it exposes 'hypocrisy'

CNN ran an opinion piece which compared Buckingham Palace’s treatment of Harry and Meghan with Prince Andrew, saying it exposes ‘hypocrisy’

Forbes led with Meghan's confession that life inside the Royal Family had been nothing like it appeared, saying her interview exposed 'the racism and stoicism' of royal life

Forbes led with Meghan’s confession that life inside the Royal Family had been nothing like it appeared, saying her interview exposed ‘the racism and stoicism’ of royal life

The Wall Street Journal, while leading with Meghan's suicidal thoughts, also recalled her row with the British press and later described Harry's 'escape' from an 'oppressive system'

The Wall Street Journal, while leading with Meghan’s suicidal thoughts, also recalled her row with the British press and later described Harry’s ‘escape’ from an ‘oppressive system’

‘Though full details of the allegations against Meghan are as yet unknown, the palace’s eagerness to respond to them stands in stark contrast to its previous reactions to other controversies,’ she wrote. 

‘Most notably the substantially more serious complaints against the Queen’s third child, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York. 

‘These statements have been minimal and resolutely supportive of the prince – not to mention an illuminating insight into the values the family seems to hold most dear.’

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal recalled Meghan’s battle with the British tabloid press, saying it had ‘exacerbated’ her misery around the time she confessed to having suicidal thoughts.

The paper also picked up on remarks made by Prince Harry – that his father, Prince Charles, and brother, Prince William, are ‘trapped’ in the institution – to brand the monarchy an ‘oppressive system’

‘Prince Harry described his family’s exit in terms of an escape,’ the paper wrote. 

New York Post scribes break with the pack to slam Meghan and Harry as disingenuous and manipulative  

The New York Post was an exception among US outlets – with columnist Maureen Callahan calling Meghan a liar, pointing out inconsistencies in her and Harry’s account of events, and took a swipe at Oprah for failing to clear them up. 

Meanwhile Post scribe Miranda Devine used her column to call Meghan a ‘manipulative piece of work’, ‘pitiless and cruel’ and attack her central claim that the royal family were set on denying son Archie a title and protection because of the colour of his skin.

Maureen Callahan

Miranda Devine

New York Post columnists Maureen Callahan (left) and Miranda Devine (right) broke with the pack to level harsh criticism at Harry and Meghan over the interview

Not all American sites defended Meghan, with the New York Post branding her 'full of bull' and 'a manipulative piece of work'

Not all American sites defended Meghan, with the New York Post branding her ‘full of bull’ and ‘a manipulative piece of work’

‘You only have to remember how cruelly she treated her own father and sister after she met Harry to understand how pitiless she is,’ she wrote.

‘Now she is intent on inflicting the same cruelty, or worse, on her husband’s family.’

But Erin Vanderhoof, a writer for Vanity Fair, gave a very different view of that same remark – saying it was ‘past the line’.

‘That taboo against interracial marriage and the ways that it does still survive are some of the things that we do know as being racist,’ she said. 

Asked bluntly by the BBC whether the row with Meghan had changed the way American people see Britain, she added: ‘On the one hand clearly the Royal Family is not representative of all British people.

‘But in a lot of ways Meghan is the realisation of a certain meritocratic idea in America.

‘To see someone who, in their own way, was a self-made person, to see them be so roundly rejected or mocked, it does come to very foundational ideas of what Amercians see society as being about.’ 

Vogue praised the interview as 'raw' and 'emotional'. Meghan previously guest edited the British version of the magazine

Vogue praised the interview as ‘raw’ and ’emotional’. Meghan previously guest edited the British version of the magazine

The New York Times said Meghan's interview had 'raised the combustible issues of race and privilege in the most rarefied echelon of British society'

The New York Times said Meghan’s interview had ‘raised the combustible issues of race and privilege in the most rarefied echelon of British society’

Media reactions expose the vast gulf in opinions between the US and UK 

The US version of Vogue praised the interview as ‘raw and emotional’.

The British version of the magazine, which Meghan once guest-edited, read simply ‘The Duchess Of Sussex Opens Up About Having Suicidal Thoughts During Her First Pregnancy’. 

US broadcaster Megyn Kelly was also critical of Meghan, attacking her claim that she was not attached to the ‘grandeur’ of her royal role – despite inviting celebrities to her wedding and covering herself ‘in blood diamonds’.  

She told Good Morning Britain: ‘What I saw tonight was somebody who is totally un-self-aware, completely unaware of how she sounded.

‘Like, I wasn’t planning on saying anything shocking, expect for my husband’s racist family almost drove me to suicidal thoughts while I was pregnant with my baby.’ 

Opinion was similarly divided on social media as those in the UK called on The Duke and Duchess of Sussex to be stripped of their royal titles while Americans praised the couple’s ‘honesty’ and ‘bravery’.

Several viewers took to Twitter calling on the couple to be stripped of their Duke and Duchess rank – while Piers Morgan branded the interview an ‘absolutely disgraceful betrayal of the Queen’.

However, many of Meghan’s American friends rallied behind her, with Serena Williams and make-up artist Daniel Martin are leading the support for the former actress.

Fox New led with the emotional impact on Meghan - but also questioned whether people were starting to get 'sick of royal mania'

Fox New led with the emotional impact on Meghan – but also questioned whether people were starting to get ‘sick of royal mania’

The Hollywood Reporter branded the UK's reaction to the interview 'hysterical' while also leading with its most salacious allegation - that members of Harry's family had questioned what the baby's skin tone would be like

The Hollywood Reporter branded the UK’s reaction to the interview ‘hysterical’ while also leading with its most salacious allegation – that members of Harry’s family had questioned what the baby’s skin tone would be like

In a statement on Twitter after the interview aired, Williams – who was among those to attend Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry – described her as a ‘selfless friend’ who ‘teaches me every day what it means to be truly noble’.

‘Her words illustrate the pain and cruelty she’s experienced,’ Williams wrote.

‘I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of color to minimize us, to break us down and demonize us. We must recognize our obligation to decry malicious, unfounded gossip and tabloid journalism.

Meanwhile, US poet Amanda Gorman said: ‘Meghan is living the life Diana should have, if only those around her had been as brave as she was. Meghan isn’t living a life without pain, but a life without a prison’.

Daniel Martin – who did Meghan’s make-up on her wedding day – shared a picture of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Instagram.

He posted the photo alongside a poem from Maya Angelou that said: ‘You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt. But still, like dust, I’ll rise.’

‘Very sickening what Meghan had to go through. Abolish this racist, incompetent monarchy,’ one viewer wrote.

‘I’m SO PROUD of Meghan. To come out and speak her truth about the monarchy being racist towards her OWN BABY is incredibly brave,’ said another.

While US viewers praised Meghan for ‘calling out racism,’ those in the in the UK accused her of ‘disrespecting the Queen’.



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