By Amit Roy
IS THE British press racist, as Harry and Meghan alleged in their recent interview with Oprah Winfrey?
The problem now is that far too many stories have been slanted against the Duchess of Sussex.
Let me give some examples. Meghan’s half-sister, Samantha Markle, who keeps spewing poison, but has nothing new to say, is repeatedly interviewed for her take on the duchess.
Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, who has tried to make a fistful of dollars out of his daughter, should not be surprised she has cut him off.
An old Fleet Street trick is to go to people who will say what you want them to say, otherwise you simply don’t quote them. That may not be racist, but it is certainly not fair reporting.
Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, rejected assertions by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that a racist media had forced them to leave the UK.
“It is not acceptable for the Duke and Duchess to make such claims without providing any supporting evidence,” he declared, adding, “The UK media has never shied away from holding a spotlight up to those in positions of power, celebrity or influence…. the press is most certainly not racist.”
But he had to resign after an angry backlash not only from several influential editors, among them Roula Khalaf of the Financial Times and Katharine Viner of the Guardian, but also from black and Asian journalists. More than 200 of them signed an open letter to “deplore and reject” Murray’s defence, pointing out that Meghan’s claims “reflect the depressingly familiar reality of how people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are portrayed by the UK press on a daily basis”.
There have been attempts to compare Meghan with the late, much-hated Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson. The twice-divorced American woman triggered a constitutional crisis in 1936 when the British monarch Edward VIII had to abdicate in order to marry “the woman I love”.
But this was blown out of the water by US president Joe Biden, who heaped praise on Meghan. His press secretary, Jen Psaki, said the president believed in the power of individuals speaking out: “For anyone to come forward and speak about their own struggles with mental health and tell their own personal story, that takes courage and that’s certainly something the president believes.”
I do think there is a solution to the problems of racial bias in the media. And that is to not only to recruit more black and Asian journalists, but also to appoint them to decision-making positions with real influence.
And that goes for Buckingham Palace, too.
However, it is not in the interest of British Asians to denigrate the royal family.