Associated Newspapers, which publishes Britain’s Mail Online, the Daily Mail and The Mail On Sunday, wrote to Viacom CBS this week, accusing CBS of doctoring tabloid images in a montage featured in Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
In a Friday statement, Associated Newspapers issued support for the First Amendment and decried racism, but accused the interview of using doctored images of headlines. The company is calling for an investigation at CBS and for the montage to be removed from repeat broadcasts. A representative for the American company did not immediately return a request for comment.
The statement said, “This is indefensible. It was inaccurate and viewers of their programme will have been seriously misled. It lent apparent support to claims that the Duchess of Sussex had been subjected to racist coverage by the British press.”
In a Friday letter reviewed by TheWrap, Associated Newspapers wrote to CBS head of litigation Naomi Waltman: “As a responsible broadcaster with integrity we believe therefore that you will deprecate, as we do, the deliberate distortion and doctoring of newspaper headlines in the misleading montage of British newspapers broadcast in ‘Oprah with Meghan and Harry’. 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.”
The company went on: “One of the most egregious of the examples, so far as we are concerned, is the headline ‘Meghan’s seed will taint our Royal Family’. The original, unedited, headline in fact was a report of the suspension from UKIP of someone over this and other racist texts about Meghan. The headline you have broadcast is neither accurate nor could it be said to be an expression of “creative integrity”. 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.”
Attached to the letter were screenshots of tabloid headlines featured in the Sunday interview as well as the headlines that ran online.