Supporters of Meghan Markle have called for Politico to apologize for an essay that labels her a narcissist, who possesses the same “mix of shameless self-aggrandizement and self-confident charm” as more polarizing and arguably more dangerous figures such as Elon Musk, Donald Trump, Kanye West, Elizabeth Holmes and Sam Bankman-Fried.
Markle fans say the essay, “2022 Is the Year We All Finally Got Tired of Narcissists,” is a “depraved” “garbage take” that fuels racism and misogyny against the American Duchess of Sussex by putting her in the same category as “criminals and antisemites” and others who have perpetuated “actual evil.”
One of these things is not like the other, @politico pic.twitter.com/38Cynutrp1
— chris evans (@notcapnamerica) December 26, 2022
“The hate for Meghan is palpable,” tweeted Christopher Bouzy, the tech entrepreneur who claims to have documented coordinated efforts to spread social media disinformation about the former TV actor who married into the British royal family.
“A woman of color protecting her family and defending herself isn’t narcissism; it’s survival,” continued Bouzy, who defended Meghan and Harry in an interview for their explosive six-part Netfix series that premiered earlier this month.
Someone else said that Meghan is “far from perfect,” but that she’s no narcissist because she stood up for herself. Supporters also wondered if calling Meghan a narcissist is a way of calling her “uppity” and complained that her face appears in the center of the featured image for the essay, surrounded by the faces of Trump, West, Musk, Holmes and Bankman-Fried.
“Putting Meghan Markle on a list with people who have purposely harmed others for profit is gross negligence,” tweeted someone with the handle Sussex Stories. “You are no better than the British media and YouTube grifters who make money spreading lies about her daily. How can you justify this as a debate?”
“DID SHE CAUSE AN INSURRECTION?” tweeted another. “DID SHE ATTACK JEWS?
The essay was penned by Joanna Weiss, a contributing editor for the U.S. political news site. Weiss opens her essay by writing about how narcissism served Meghan and the above-mentioned others well until 2022. This quality, Weiss, said, turned these figures into “venture-capital darlings, licensed-merchandise magnates, Forbes cover models, social media superstars, Oprah confessors, business-conference keynoters, new-money plutocrats and, in one case, president.”
“All of them used attention as currency and ego as fuel, and were rewarded, for a time, with what they craved,” Weiss continued.
Weiss said that she had felt a “natural sympathy” for Meghan and Harry while watching the first five episodes of the series, which was made as part of their reported $100 million production deal with the streaming service. In the series, the couple say that a toxic U.K. tabloid media, along with institutional racism and jealousy in the royal family, drove them to flee their roles in the monarchy and make a new life in the United States as media moguls and global philanthropists.
Weiss previously wrote about the Sussexes for Politico and The Atlantic before and after they left royal life. For The Atlantic, she likened them to social media influencers who leverage fame for money. For Politico, she analyzed the way that American views of the couple, following their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, fell along the left-right political divide.
With her new essay, Weiss faces the same accusations of racism and bullying that have been leveled against some of Meghan’s most outspoken critics, who include conservative pundits and social media trolls. Weiss’s essay moreover follows a volatile column against the duchess that was published in the tabloid The Sun before Christmas. Author Jeremy Clarkson wrote that he “hated” Meghan and dreamed “of the day when she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her.” Clarkson and The Sun apologized for the column, and The Sun removed it from its website, but the Sussexes have called The Sun’s apology nothing more than “a P.R. stunt,” The Guardian reported.
Weiss said her opinion of Meghan and Harry turned before the end of the series. She said she became irritated by the way they and the series pushed the idea that there is “no one more in love, no one more socially conscious, no one more aggrieved” than them.
“It occurred to me that ego has its limits,” Weiss wrote. She accused the couple of “overreach” and of indulging in “the same impulse that turned Elon Musk into a terror on Twitter, that prompted Ye to up the ante of outrageous behavior until he crossed the line into blatant antisemitism” and “that sent Bankman-Fried from the top of the world to a Bahamian jail.”
Weiss acknowledged a continuum in the societal harm caused by the famous figures she names in her essay. She wrote that Meghan and Harry’s “addiction to the public eye is benign — they seem tiresome, but genuinely well-intentioned.” She contrasted their “quest for eyeballs” to the others, whose need for attention, she said, became “a lot more dangerous.”
To argue that the public has become fed up with narcissists in 2022, Weiss said that Meghan and Harry’s series was “critically panned” even though it premiered to high ratings and inspired “an explosion of media think pieces.” She said the series undermined “legitimate” complaints about a toxic tabloid press and royal cruelty by wedging them between glamorous and “flattering photos and videos” the couple apparently took during their royal exit as they were “preparing for a photogenic tell-all.”
At some point in the essay, Weiss veers away from Meghan and Harry to focus on how the other controversial figures suffered spectacular falls from their heights of power and influence in 2022. West lost lucrative business partnerships, Holmes was sentenced to 11 years in prison, Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas and faces trial in the U.S, Musk’s erratic management of Twitter hurt his reputation as a genius iconoclast and Trump is fending off multiple investigations and may have lost his influence over the Republican party.
But for Meghan and Harry, it remains to be seen whether Weiss is right about them wearing out their welcome with their Netflix series and with the publication of Harry’s tell-all memoir “Spare” in January.
For one thing, their series wasn’t universally panned by critics, as Weiss argued. The response appeared to be more mixed. Certainly, their critics, especially in the U.K. media, picked apart almost every frame to call out moments they believe were blatantly hagiographic or misleading. Her critics also defended the Politico essay, outlining the ways they think she’s a “textbook narcissist.”
People in here talking about crimes. M is textbook narcissist. Deal with it! pic.twitter.com/lQVh0O6oDH
— Sabirah Lohn (43% Whatever I decide)💕 (@SabirahLohn) December 27, 2022
On the other hand, Sussex supporters believe the Netflix series did an excellent job in bolstering claims they have long made about being mistreated by the royal family and the U.K. tabloids. They also said that the Politico essay proves that Meghan is right to say that she remains a target of malign forces in media on both sides of the Atlantic.
How on earth is Meghan Markle grouped with the likes of criminals, racists and anti-Semites? @politico claiming Meghan is a narcissist for speaking out about the unbridled racism leveled at her just bolsters her point. pic.twitter.com/QFxg68Ogza
— Victoria Brownworth #NotLeavingThisBirdApp (@VABVOX) December 26, 2022