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
"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!
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