Fabulously rich royals claim victimhood -- and American media rush into the trap

Prince Harry — excuse me, Harry Windsor, late of Sussex — claims he was trapped in royal life. Even Oprah Winfrey, whose own celebrity and fabulous wealth, has trouble buying that claim, as you’ll see in this clip from the interview yesterday on CBS. But don’t just watch it on that network. For some reason the rest of the American national media is busily promoting this as well today:

There’s not much to say about the Sussexes here other than check your privilege, as Winfrey seems to hint here. British taxpayers give this family millions of pounds every year to smile for the cameras and shake hands, which seems to be part of Harry’s objection. His primary complaint is the British press, but Harry doesn’t seem too bothered by manipulating the American press to take shots at his family. As for Meghan Markle, anyone who marries into this mess either had forty-plus years of public common knowledge about their dysfunction on hand that should have factored into the decision. And it seems more than a bit self-indulgent to launch this attack on his family at the very moment that his 99-year-old grandfather is fighting a life-threatening condition in the hospital.

But that’s more or less the royal family story these days. What amazes me is just how far the American media continues to get sucked into this. Normally, broadcast networks wouldn’t get caught dead promoting exclusive interviews by a rival. This morning, however, viewers couldn’t escape the Sussexes by dialing away from CBS. Here’s NBC:


NBC’s cable outlet has it covered in case their viewers missed it over the air:

And ABC:

CNN actually live blogged CBS’ exclusive interview:

For those who prefer print, the New York Times has you covered as well:

To some extent, these media outlets are responding to popular demand. However, this over-the-top prurient interest in the infighting within one wealthy and dysfunctional family is a real editorial choice, laid bare in today’s rush to promote CBS’ product by all of its competitors. It’s insane, part of a descent into gossip and innuendo that really began in 1980 with the wedding of Charles and Diana and has not let up since. And it hasn’t contained itself to just the British royals either; that approach has infected much of the rest of what passes for journalism these days as well.

This American obsession with royalty isn’t just limited to the press, but their decades-long amplification of it is especially confounding. It’s a criticism that applied to the British press too, but at least the royals are a British institution. Our country exists because we rejected royalty, so why are our institutions promoting it so passionately here?

Update: I admit, I laughed at this:

Update: My friend Gabriel Malor criticizes me for not having any mercy for the Sussexes’ pain and unhappiness. I do think those are genuine, and perhaps an acknowledgment of that was in order. But it’s been well over a year since Harry and Meghan left the royal family. Why are they still doing media tours over it? And more to my main point, why are American media outlets still fawning over them as though it happened yesterday, and as though this is the only family with dysfunction?