Associated Newspapers, the owner of UK tabloid the Daily Mail, has written to ViacomCBS demanding the removal of “inaccurate, misleading and divisive” content from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Associated Newspapers’ lawyers complained about a montage in the show that purported to feature headlines from British newspapers. They argue that the CBS special showed images that had been doctored or presented as headlines when they were not. They called for the images to be removed from the interview online and before it is repeated tonight.
“Many of the headlines have been either taken out of context or deliberately edited and displayed as supporting evidence for the programme’s claim that the Duchess of Sussex was subjected to racist coverage by the British press. This editing was not made apparent to viewers and, as a result, this section of the programme is both seriously inaccurate and misleading,” Associated Newspapers’ group legal director Elizabeth Hartley said.
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“I should be grateful for your urgent confirmation that the offending content will be removed from the programme currently being made available to the public. We also understand that a further broadcast is being planned tonight. The montage should therefore be deleted prior to that broadcast.”
Associated Newspapers lists three examples in its letter, arguing that the most “egregious” was an image containing the headline: “Meghan’s seed will taint our Royal Family.” The company said this was an edited version of the original headline, which reported on the suspension of a UKIP member over her racist texts about Markle. UKIP is a UK political party. The original headline was: “Meghan’s seed will taint our Royal Family’: UKIP chief’s glamour model lover, 25, is suspended from the party over racist texts about Prince Harry’s wife-to-be.”
Attorney Hartley said: “It is a thoroughly dishonest misrepresentation of a newspaper headline and article which was the opposite of racist. No one viewing the programme would have understood this from the montage.”
The letter comes amid a firestorm in the UK over press treatment of Markle. Concerns have been raised about the racially-charged nature of coverage on the Duchess Of Sussex after Prince Harry accused British tabloids of being “bigoted.” Associated Newspapers’ intervention also comes against the backdrop of its legal fight with Markle over the publication of a letter to her father. Markle secured a major victory in the ongoing battle last month.
Oprah with Meghan and Harry aired Sunday, March 7. The special was produced by Harpo Productions. Executive producers were Terry Wood and Tara Montgomery. Brian Piotrowicz was co-executive producer.
Deadline has contacted ViacomCBS for comment.
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