Yes, we’re racist, say British journos after Society of Editors denies Harry and Meghan’s claims of media bigotry
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle didn’t hold back in their interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired on Sunday night. The pair accused the royal family, British society, and the country’s media, of bigotry and racism, and, in an unseen clip aired on US TV a day later, the Duke of Sussex told Oprah that racism was “a large part of” why himself and the duchess left Britain last year.
“From the beginning of our relationship, they were so attacking and inciting so much racism really,” Meghan added at one point.
Society of Editors head Ian Murray took offence to the couple’s remarks. In a statement on Monday defending his industry, Murray insisted that “the UK media is not bigoted and will not be swayed from its vital role holding the rich and powerful to account.”
“It is not acceptable for the Duke and Duchess to make such claims without providing any supporting evidence,” Murray, the editor-in-chief of the Southern Daily Echo, continued. “If it is simply the case the Sussexes feel that the press by questioning their actions and commenting on their roles when working as Royals funded by the taxpayer were being racist then they are mistaken.”
Murray, however, was not speaking for his entire industry. A whole host of left-leaning journalists and editors soon responded, claiming that the press is indeed racist.
Huffington Post editor Jess Brammar was among them, as was Guardian columnist Owen Jones, who described Murray’s statement as “astonishing,” and said that “much of the British media is a complete cesspit of racism and bigotry.” Presumably, Jones did not mean the outlets who have paid his bills, which include The Guardian, the New Statesman, the Sunday Mirror and The Independent.
Absolutely astonishing. Much of the British media is a complete cesspit of racism and bigotry. The absolute front of this statement— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) March 8, 2021
The BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire read out a list of “bigoted” headlines on air on Tuesday and challenged Murray to defend them, insisting that the British press is racist.
Quite the exchange between Victoria Derbyshire and the head of the Society of Editors this morning pic.twitter.com/2DMxvqwZX1— Tom Hourigan (@TomHourigan) March 9, 2021
The tabloid media in the UK regularly prints alarmist headlines about surging immigration, and has repeatedly questioned Markle’s background (The Daily Mail at one point called her “straight outta Compton”). However, almost every journalist who chimed in to criticize Murray insisted that they worked for more ‘respectable’ outlets, that they were victims of racism, that they weren’t the racist ones.
Hi Jess. I don’t disagree at all. It would be helpful, however, to journalists like me who have covered humanitarian emergencies around the world and social inequality in Britain for a campaigning newspaper, if you pinpoint exactly which titles are bigoted.— Tom Parry (@ParryTom) March 9, 2021
Pains me to say that my industry has been in denial about its institutional racism for all the two decades I've been in it. https://t.co/oicJ4xx5zP— Sathnam Sanghera (@Sathnam) March 9, 2021
Oh my god exactly this!! Imagine this lot proudly making this statement given the abysmal state of diversity of journalism and columnists. It’s exhausting being a POC in this industry and one of the main reasons I am slowly but surely exiting journalism.— Poorna Bell (@poornabell) March 9, 2021
As the media argues with itself over Harry and Meghan’s allegations, attention has turned to Buckingham Palace, which has yet to respond to the interview. Given that Meghan accused the royal family of fretting, before his birth, over “how dark” their son Archie’s skin would be, ITV royal editor Chris Ship described the impact of the interview as if the couple had “effectively loaded up a B-52 bomber, flew it over Buckingham Palace and then unloaded their arsenal right above it, bomb by heavily-loaded bomb.”
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