TUESDAY, MARCH 16, 2021
Which royal made which royal cry?: To our surprise, we're going to start with this morning's Washington Post.
More precisely, we're going to start with the current "most read" news report or opinion column in the entire newspaper. As we type, it's been listed as the paper's "most read" item for at least the past several hours.
According to the Post's web site, which report, column or profile is currently "most read?" It's the hard-hitting, two-reporter news report which appears beneath this headline:
In an emotional finale, Bachelor Matt James breaks up with the winner over racially insensitive social media posts
That's the "most read" news report! The news report starts like this:
BONOS AND YAHR (3/16/21): Nearly every season of “The Bachelor,” there’s a stark disconnect between what was filmed and where the final couple is now, months after the cameras stopped rolling. That’s especially true this season featuring Matt James—a 29-year-old real estate broker from New York who’s the first Black man to star on the show.
As Monday night’s finale opens on a snowy Nemacolin Resort in Farmington, Pa., viewers are reminded that before we can get answers to what happened with Rachael Kirkconnell, the 24-year-old graphic designer from Georgia who’s sparked controversy over her racially insensitive social media posts, we will need to sit through two hours of James deciding who to pick and whether to propose.
The wait is a little excruciating.
We'll admit it! We've missed the current season of The Bachelor, and every season before it. Based on what we read today, the current season has been roiled by the racially insensitive social media posts of the 24-year-old graphic designer who stood a chance of getting picked and proposed to.
We read perhaps two paragraphs more before giving up in despair. It seems to us there are two different was a person could parse the Post community's interest in this drama:
1) We the people are deeply invested in our new antiracism.
2) We the people are deeply silly. We love our silly celebrity soap opera/gossip and our currently mandated frameworks.
Which analysis would be correct? Borrowing from a former president, it seems to us that a critic could teach it flat or round.
Once again, we'll admit it! We'll admit that we've been struck by the silliness which has occasionally seemed to surround Oprah Winfrey's recent interview with the pair of royals.
We're referring here to the reporting and punditry, not to the interview itself. For ourselves, we flung our keyboard down in despair when we encountered this (reasonably accurate) overview by Elena DeBré at Slate:
DEBRÉ (3/11/21): In a globe-rocking interview Sunday evening, the Duchess of Sussex and her husband, Prince Harry, revealed to Oprah—and 17 million viewers—how ceaseless cruel press, oppressive palace life, and royal racism drove Meghan to contemplate suicide. Buckingham Palace responded with a statement expressing familial sadness.
Several questions popped into our heads. Was that really a "globe-rocking interview"—and if so, should it have rocked the globe?
Judging from the wall-to-wall coverage at Slate (more tomorrow), it certainly seemed that that interview may have been globe-rocking. But based upon the reporting and punditry we had encountered, it didn't seem entirely clear that it should have been.
In fairness, pundit assessment had been fairly standard. Given the brilliance of Oprah's performance, the two-hour session had produced one "bombshell" after another—"explosive" bombshells at that.
As we noted yesterday, the Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan said that Oprah's unparalleled brilliance had yielded "bombshell after bombshell." At Variety, Kate Aurthur and her editor went double-dutch on the two key words:
AURTHUR (3/8/21): Why Isn’t Oprah’s Bombshell Interview With Meghan and Harry on Paramount Plus?
Oprah Winfrey’s explosive two-hour interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, drew massive ratings for CBS Sunday night, with an audience of more than 17 million viewers tuning in live.
In Variety's headline, it had been a bombshell interview. Then, in Aurthur's opening paragraph, the interview had been explosive.
Pundits widely agreed—the explosive interview had littered the landscape with bombshell after bombshell. At New York magazine, Devon Ivie listed "all of the interview’s biggest bombshells about how terrible the monarchy can be."
The headline on Ivie's piece said this: "7 Meghan Markle Interview Bombshells That’ll Make You Anti-Royalist." Finally, we the people would be getting a chance to become anti-royalist!
Hungrily, we scanned Ivie's list. But when she listed the seven bombshells, the second bombshell was this:
2. Middleton made Markle cry before her wedding.
As a direct contradiction to a flurry of tabloid reports that emerged months after her royal wedding, Markle said that she didn’t make Middleton cry over a tiff about bridesmaid dresses. In fact, she said the “reverse” happened. “It made me cry. It really hurt my feelings. I don’t say that to be disparaging to anyone, because it was a really hard week of the wedding. She was upset about something, but she owned it, and she apologized,” Markle explained. “And she brought me flowers and a note, apologizing. And she did what I would do if I knew that I hurt someone, right, to just take accountability for it.” Markle, who called Middleton a “good person,” added that the media “really seemed to want a narrative of a hero and a villain” between them.
It's true. During the session, Oprah went on and on, then on and on, with Meghan on this topic. They discussed which royal had made which royal cry about the bridesmaids' dresses—back in 2018.
At New York magazine, this was one of the seven bombshells. All in all, the TV show which produced that bombshell had been an explosive "globe-rocking" event.
In our view, it's an embarrassment to the human race that a major celebrity would waste the globe's time in this way—speaking to a royal at length about so pointless a topic. But according to the partial "full transcript" produced by The Sun, Oprah went on and on—then on and on—about this explosive topic.
Major journalists seemed to think that such discussions actually matter. But then, as we told you several years back, "it's all anthropology now."
Let's be fair! DeBré, who said the session was "globe-rocking," is identified this way by Slate:
"Elena DeBré is a Slate intern."
Stating the obvious, there's nothing "wrong" with any of that. It does point to the way our mainstream "news orgs" keep skewing younger and younger, with all the sins—and all the insights—to which youth may be heir.
Elena DeBré is very young, even by evolving press standards. But what she said is little different from What Almost Everyone Said.
Oprah's brilliant interview session had produced a series of bombshells—explosive bombshells at that. In one of the seven top bombshells, we finally got a chance to hear Meghan's account of which royal had made which royal cry concerning the bridesmaids' dresses.
Other revelations may have been more significant, except for one small problem. The revelations in this TV show weren't actually revelations. The revelations were actually claims—and sometimes, the claims were rather unclear, the better to embellish them by.
The revelations were actually claims? At this point, very few of our upper-end journalists seem to know the difference. We'll proceed to that point tomorrow—but only after reviewing the clownish coverage granted this session by Slate, a form of comic relief.
Was this two-hour interview an important news event? Or was it just the latest example of silly celebrity gossip?
Also, has our press corps moved past the point where that distinction is known to exist? There's little sign that inquiring minds have any desire to ask.
Tomorrow: The royals' claims weren't "revelations"—but what did they even claim?