OPRAH AND TOWN: It was quickly a case of Slate Gone Wild...

THURSDAY, MARCH 18, 2021

...with the Times not far behind: Children were drowning in the Mediterranean, sometimes alongside their parents. 

In Nigeria, children were being kidnapped en masse. Here in the United States, low-income kids were completing a full year out of school.

According to several major cynics, stars like Oprah simply don't care about such tedious matters. They care about the ruined lives of extremely wealthy celebrity royals—the ruined lives of wealthy people from top families across the pond.

One thinks of the arguably peculiar way the New York Times reacted to the recent two-hour royal audience. The session was broadcast by CBS on the evening of Sunday, March 7. 

In print editions, the Times responded with front-page reports on each of the next three mornings. "We always thought General Washington won win that war," one anguished analyst cried.

By Thursday morning, the "bombshell interview" (sub-headline, March 8) had finally left the New York Times' page A1. Other reports appeared inside the newspaper's print editions or had appeared online. 

The bombshell interview had been thoroughly frisked. On Monday, March 8, one of those online reports, headline included, had started off like this:

LYALL AND MZEZEWA (3/8/21): What We Learned From Meghan and Harry’s Interview

Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, had been teased for days. So it was a shock to find when it aired Sunday night that it included a number of explosive revelations about the couple and their fraught relationship with the British royal family.

Right there in paragraph 1, we were told that the interview had produced "explosive revelations." And yes, the royals' statements had been "revelations." They weren't simply statements or claims.

The bombshell interview had produced explosive revelations. Perhaps a bit revealingly, the Times' account of one revelation went like this, section heading included:

‘My family literally cut me off financially.’

Most members of the royal family receive money each year from the family coffers in exchange for carrying out official engagements. But when he introduced Meghan to the family, Harry said, that arrangement already seemed to be in jeopardy.

Members of his family suggested that she continue acting, “because there wasn’t enough money to pay for her,” Harry said. “There was some real obvious signs before we even got married that this was going to be really hard.”

He and Meghan said they pleaded with the royal family to pay for security for them and their son, only to be refused each time.

Then, when he and Meghan moved to the United States, Harry said, the royal family stopped giving them money.

“My family literally cut me off financially,” Harry said. When Oprah pressed him on the point, he amended it to “the first half, the first quarter of 2020,” leaving open the question of whether any money had arrived after that.

In any case, he said, speaking of his life in the United States, “I’ve got what my mum left me, and without that, we would not have been able to do this.”

Just how accurate is that account? Like you, we have no idea. Without attempting to establish villains, let's translate what's said there:

Without the money the prince's mother had left him, the pair of grumpy celebrity royals wouldn't have been able to buy the $15 million house—it's near the beach in Santa Barbara—where they currently live.

According to Harry, the royal family stopped giving them money after they moved to the States. If not for the millions his mother had left him, the royals might have had to get jobs!

As children drowned in the Mediterranean—as girls were kidnapped in Nigeria—this is what Oprah explored. Also, which royal had made which royal cry about the bridesmaids' dresses?

These are the topics Oprah explored. Upper-end journalists rushed into line to gush about her greatness.

At such times, we get a look at the dying culture explored in Promising Young Woman--a culture in which, when we get to brass tacks, nobody actually cares. No one cares about anything at all, except about their careers.

As for the New York Times' journalists, they kept themselves nicely on message. The claims advanced in the bombshell interview were quickly called revelations—and the revelations had been explosive. 

Children were drowning and being kidnapped, but Oprah cared about this. Within the self-impressed culture observed in Our Town, this seemed to make perfect sense. 

Some of the royal couple's claims were perhaps more significant. We're going to look at them tomorrow. For today, let's offer this:

In the aftermath of the bombshell session, it wasn't just the New York Times which had gone somewhat wild. Elsewhere, we the people were treated to the latest installment of Slate Gone Wild. Slate came at us early and often.

Needless to say, readers of Slate were instantly Schwedeled. Before 2 A.M. on Monday, March 8, this initial report had appeared:

Monday, March 8:
The Most Damning Moments of Meghan and Harry’s Sensational Oprah Interview
BY HEATHER SCHWEDEL

At least it wasn't a "bombshell" interview. After a few hours of fitful sleep, Schwedel returned with this:

Monday, March 8:
Who Fared the Absolute Worst in Oprah’s Harry and Meghan Interview?
Kate? William? The queen? A complete ranking.
BY HEATHER SCHWEDEL

Who had fared most poorly the previous night? Slate now offered a complete ranking. Schwedel discussed a list of twenty, building up to "the absolute worst."

By Tuesday, editors may have realized that something was missing or wrong. So far, no one had pandered to Oprah's greatness. Up jumped the TV reporter:

Tuesday, March 9:
Oprah’s Uncanny, Singular Skill Is More Than Being Good at Interviewing
You don’t talk to Oprah because it’s easy. You talk to Oprah because it’s good for you.
BY WILLA PASKIN
Before too long, Paskin was nicely on message, offering this:

"Over her two hours with Meghan and Harry, Oprah asked and circled back and clarified and emphasized so that we could see the story that really matters: not a heightened squabble between rich family members, but the ancient racism of a cruel institution."

We'll discuss the "ancient racism" tomorrow. As we do, we'll note the way Oprah actually failed to clarify the most widely discussed allegation advanced in the whole interview.

By Wednesday, March 10, it was time to shoehorn the royal worship into pre-approved narrative frameworks. Hampton and Craven accomplished this task. 

They discussed "the racism, colorism, classism, imperialism, and colonialism" which lay behind this latest royal behavior. They also swapped guesses about who had spoken to Harry about "skin tones," giving their dialogue the requisite Tiger Beat gossipy feel.

On Thursday, March 11, along came Elena DeBré, the Slate intern (and Yale undergraduate) with "The Weird History Behind Piers Morgan’s Meltdown Over Meghan Markle." This was DeBré's background look at the "globe-rocking interview."

For the record, Schwedel had also published two (2) full-length previews of the interview, including this one from February 27:

Saturday, February 27:
Everything You Need to Know About the Meghan and Harry Interview That Is Terrifying the Royals
Now updated with new, exhausting details.
BY HEATHER SCHWEDEL

So much enjoyable snark! This may differ from the preview piece Schwedel published on March 6. Or then again, it may not. We're going to make you check.

Harry and Meghan wanted to leave the Palace. Almost surely, this desire—this decision—made absolute perfect sense.  Why we were supposed to care about this is the part which went unexplained. 

Some aspects of this "globe-rocking" matter may not have made perfect sense. We'd be inclined to include that takeaway in the Times:

Luckily, they had the money his mother had left him. Otherwise, they couldn't have purchased that $15 million house! The mansion near the beach!

Question:

Why are we the people Over Here supposed to care about this? Could it be because of the failing culture within Our Town, within which we may not seem to care very much about things which are really important?

Our modern culture is highly performative. As we gossip about the royals, is it anything more than that?

Tomorrow: The more important claims


43 comments:

  1. "Children were drowning in the Mediterranean, sometimes alongside their parents."

    Bad things have been happening to children along our border too. Heaven forbid Somerby should talk about that! It might be too much like commenting on current events, taking part in our democratic process.

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  2. It could be worse. We could be discussing the phony "cancel culture" crisis QAnoners in Congress are pushing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "According to several major cynics, stars like Oprah simply don't care about such tedious matters. "

    When Somerby says "several major cynics" he is only referring to himself. Other cynics surely read the list of Oprah's contributions posted by mh yesterday.

    That makes it all the more obvious how unfair Somerby is to the people he targets here. What did Oprah ever do to Somerby? She had the nerve to be a successful black WOMAN in a field in which Somerby tried to make a career -- entertainment.

    This is not a good look for you, Somerby.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “This is not a good look for you, Somerby.”

      If Anonymices really cared about racism, anti-semitism, colonialism, sexism, and gender binarism, Anonymices would donate a dollar to charity every time you write the above statement.

      That could change the world.



      Delete
  4. Dr. Somerby,
    Heal thyself, and start discussing all the anti-Democratic voter suppression laws moving through state legislatures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Better trolling please.

      Delete
    2. Somerone who expresses a liberal sentiment on a purportedly liberal blog is not trolling.

      Delete
  5. ""We always thought General Washington won win that war," one anguished analyst cried."

    Fire that analyst. How can any analyst worth his salt think that what happens in Great Britain doesn't affect us? Only Trump thinks that.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "He and Meghan said they pleaded with the royal family to pay for security for them and their son, only to be refused each time."

    This seems like a very serious problem, a legitimate complaint, to me. The Queen is one of the richest people in Great Britain. How can there be insufficient money to pay for security for the royal family?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here’s some info. Don’t know how accurate it is.

      https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/people/who-pays-for-royal-security-how-protection-for-the-royals-is-funded-and-why-meghan-and-harry-were-cut-off-3160006

      Delete
    2. Here’s an interesting bit:

      “However, viewers of the interview have questioned why Prince Andrew is still entitled to security despite having stepped back from royal duties as a result of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.”

      Andrew didn’t step back from his royal duties, he was stepped-back by the Queen after the interview he did about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.

      I suppose he still enjoys paid security because the Queen thinks that he is the one who is most in need of it, if you know what I mean.

      Delete
    3. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean, know what I mean?

      Delete
  7. If the media wasn't so in the bag for the Right, at minimum they'd ask how limiting voting hours protects "the integrity of the vote", or objectively look into whether the GOP actively courting white supremacists is a viable long-term strategy.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "the pair of grumpy celebrity royals "

    Somerby then calls them out for living in a $15 million home. Somerby is clearly unaware that 2-bedroom bungalows in the Los Angeles area cost $1 million or more.

    Somerby appears to have forgotten that Meghan Markle had a recurring role on a long-running popular TV series (Suits) before marrying Harry. He refers to her as a "star" in a mocking tone, but she was successful in her career. She HAD a job that she gave up to marry Harry.

    As for Harry:

    "Prince Harry served in the Army for ten years, rising to the rank of Captain and undertaking two tours of Afghanistan. He continues to work in support of his fellow servicemen, promoting support for wounded men and women as they adapt to life post-injury." In the US, we would say "Thank you for your service," but not Somerby.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "They discussed "the racism, colorism, classism, imperialism, and colonialism" which lay behind this latest royal behavior. They also swapped guesses about who had spoken to Harry about "skin tones," giving their dialogue the requisite Tiger Beat gossipy feel."

    Does Somerby really think that discussing a baby's skin tones is gossip? Does he think that cutting off the royal couple financially is gossip and not an act of coercion?

    It is beyond belief that Somerby would say these things. If there were any doubt about Somerby's racial attitudes, this certainly clarifies them. He is a stone cold bigot. His remarks have nothing to do with media criticism. He is telling us that when the royal family pretends acceptance in public but retaliates financially against her husband for marrying a biracial woman, she should just suck it up and go back to her job. Because who does she think she is, living in a beach house and being all uppity like this! And children are drowning in the Mediterranean. And Oprah gets too much praise.

    Phooey on Somerby. He cannot protest that no one should care about the royals, while writing about them day after day, just as the media has done. But Somerby is worse -- he doesn't care about racism either, and no amount of wailing over those drowning children can rescue his soul from that failure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “ Does Somerby really think that discussing a baby's skin tones is gossip? Does he think that cutting off the royal couple financially is gossip and not an act of coercion?”

      No, he said that the swapping of speculations of which royal made the comment gave it a teenage tabloid feel.

      (My money is on Prince Philip, but I shouldn’t say that.)

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. For all of the purported disdain, you and Somerby seem to be reveling in the gossip, Cecelia.

      Delete
    4. Goodness, yes. I also ascertain the difference between it and the gospel.

      Delete
  10. Somerby has previously mentioned his troubled relationship with his own mother. Today he mentions Harry's inheritance several times. It is almost as if Somerby is jealous because Diana cared enough about Harry to leave him some money (less than $15 million).

    Meanwhile:

    "The Queen has a net worth of $500 million, according to the last tally by Forbes in 2019, while the combined value of the British Monarch's holdings with the Crown Estate, the Duchy of Lancaster (a real estate trust), were worth an estimated $25 billion."

    All of that wealth will pass to Prince Charles at her death, then William (not Harry who is a second son).

    But nothing is more precious than a mother's love, eh Somerby?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goodness. I’m starting to see that you may be a Somerby ex-of some sort.

      I hope not, because I can totally see you boiling bunnies.

      Delete
    2. Haha. Another pop culture reference. Meanwhile, those kids in Nigeria...

      Actually, I could totally see you as Somerby’s lover, Cecelia. Faithful to a fault.

      Delete
    3. I am a Somerby lover. This current blog funny and dead-on.

      I am faithful to a fault.

      I do miss deadrat. He wasn’t a fan of mine, but he was very amusing.

      Delete
    4. Republicans truly have no shame.

      Delete
  11. 'hildren were drowning in the Mediterranean, sometimes alongside their parents.

    In Nigeria, children were being kidnapped en masse. Here in the United States, low-income kids were completing a full year out of school.'

    And Somerby was spending his time over the last many years defending the killers of kids like Zimmerman. When he was not defending DJT, Jim Jordan, Roy Moore. And attacking all Dem candidates.

    Somerby is a hard core malevolent Trumptard, who desperately wanted Trump to win so he could spend another 4 years worshipping Trump and bitching about 2000.

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Why are we the people Over Here supposed to care about this?"

    People -- working people, ordinary people -- don't care about any of this shit, dear Bob. Only liberal zombies.

    It's all perfectly fine, dear Bob: liberal zombie press -- for liberal zombies. No harm, no foul. What's your problem?

    ReplyDelete
  13. I fail to see why Oprah should talk about the kidnappings in Nigeria, or why her not talking about them means she doesn’t care. Interviewing celebrities is kind of her thing. Just as rock and roll music is kind of what rock and roll musicians do-they spend their lives doing that, not working on behalf of the kidnapped Nigerians. But spending time on their music doesn’t mean they don’t care about the other thing.

    It’s easy to accuse people of not caring. I could accuse Somerby of not caring about those kids because he spends all of his time blogging and using those kids as a weapon to attack other people rather than discussing their plight or talking about the people who are actually involved in the story, including the majority of journalists who aren’t talking about Oprah’s interview.

    ReplyDelete
  14. In what sense is it not virtue signaling when Somerby claims that his understanding of a movie shows how he cares while others’ views of that movie show that they don’t?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Bob,
    Did you read or see the reports about the Georgia man who murdered 8 people (6 Asian women)?.
    He blamed it on his sex addiction.
    He is either nuts-ala Trump. Or scared that those in the massage parlors were going to kill him-ala Zimmerman.

    Earlier this week you dismissed the thought of hatred of Asian people. Yesterday an elderly Chinese woman (70+) was waiting for the light t0 change when someone walked up and punched her in her eye. She grabbed piece of wood and whacked her assaulter in the face.

    Thank you lady.

    Bob, go back to Aristotle.
    Then Newton.
    Then Michelson-Morley.
    Then Einstein.
    You may find out how much you don't know.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I forgot Archimedes.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Give Bob a break. He hasn't been able to get the latest Right-wing talking points during Rush Limbaugh's four weeks of sobriety.

    ReplyDelete
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  19. Following the royal family is just as much a distraction cult as following sports or Qanon.

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