Society of Editors chief resigns after criticism for defending UK press against racism claims

The Society of Editors chief has tonight resigned after coming under fire for defending the UK press from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s racism claims.

Ian Murray, the industry body’s executive director, faced a backlash after releasing a statement saying the couple’s accusations, made in their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, were ‘not acceptable’.

He said the Duke and Duchess’ claims were made ‘without supporting evidence’ and, defending the UK media, said it had a ‘proud record of calling out racism’.

But the remarks drew criticism from some within the industry, including editors of publications such as the HuffPost and the left-wing Guardian, who both said the statement did not reflect their opinion. 

ITV’s news anchor Charlene White today pulled out of presenting the industry body’s annual awards following Mr Murray’s statement.

And a number of journalists and newspapers also announced they would reject their nominations for the sought-after honours.

Now, less than 24 hours after Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan resigned following a Twitter storm about his comments on the explosive interview, Mr Murray has announced he is stepping down from his role with the industry body.

In a statement he said: ‘Since the statement was issued the SoE has been heavily criticised. 

Ian Murray, the industry body's executive director, faced a backlash from sections of the media after releasing a statement saying the couple's accusations, made in a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, were 'not acceptable'

Ian Murray, the industry body's executive director, faced a backlash from sections of the media after releasing a statement saying the couple's accusations, made in a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, were 'not acceptable'

Ian Murray, the industry body’s executive director, faced a backlash from sections of the media after releasing a statement saying the couple’s accusations, made in a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, were ‘not acceptable’

But the remarks about Harry and Meghan's (pictured) claims drew criticism from some within the industry, including editors of publications such as the Huffington Post and the Guardian, who both said the statement did not reflect their opinion

But the remarks about Harry and Meghan's (pictured) claims drew criticism from some within the industry, including editors of publications such as the Huffington Post and the Guardian, who both said the statement did not reflect their opinion

But the remarks about Harry and Meghan’s (pictured) claims drew criticism from some within the industry, including editors of publications such as the Huffington Post and the Guardian, who both said the statement did not reflect their opinion

‘While I do not agree that the Society’s statement was in any way intended to defend racism, I accept it could have been much clearer in its condemnation of bigotry and has clearly caused upset. 

‘As executive director I lead the Society and as such must take the blame and so I have decided it is best for the board and membership that I step aside so that the organisation can start to rebuild its reputation.’

It comes as yesterday editors took to Twitter to criticise the original comment, including the Guardian’s Katharine Viner and the I’s Oly Duff.

Mr Duff described it ‘ludicrous’ for the SoE to issue a ‘blanket defence of all media coverage’.

Meanwhile, a an open letter signed by 167 journalists of colour was published, describing the SoE’s response as ‘laughable’. 

The SoE, which has members from nearly 400 national and regional outlets, today appeared to pull back from the earlier comments, amid claims of a split in the executive board. 

The new statement ‘said the previous comments ‘did not reflect what we all know: that there is a lot of work to be done in the media to improve diversity and inclusion’. 

The latest comment was made by the SoE board, rather than Mr Murray – as the previous comment had been.

Charlene White (pictured), who was due to host the SoE's National Press Awards, pulled out, citing the comments by Mr Murray. Ms White, who is a panellist on talk show Loose Women, said: 'Perhaps it's best for you to look elsewhere for a host for your awards this year.

Charlene White (pictured), who was due to host the SoE's National Press Awards, pulled out, citing the comments by Mr Murray. Ms White, who is a panellist on talk show Loose Women, said: 'Perhaps it's best for you to look elsewhere for a host for your awards this year.

Charlene White (pictured), who was due to host the SoE’s National Press Awards, pulled out, citing the comments by Mr Murray. Ms White, who is a panellist on talk show Loose Women, said: ‘Perhaps it’s best for you to look elsewhere for a host for your awards this year.

Meanwhile, a number of publications and journalists have today decided to pull their nominations from the upcoming National Press Awards.

These include the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Yorkshire Post.   

Earlier, the award’s host Charlene White pulled out, citing the comments by Mr Murray. 

Ms White, who is a panellist on talk show Loose Women, said: ‘Perhaps it’s best for you to look elsewhere for a host for your awards this year.

‘Perhaps someone whose views align with yours: that the UK press is the one institution in the entire country who has a perfect record on race.’  

It comes after the Duchess of Sussex accused the press of ‘attacking and inciting so much racism’ in its coverage of her during her explosive CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey.    

Yesterday, Piers Morgan sensationally quit Good Morning Britain hours after the launch of a social media campaign which saw more than 40,000 complaints made to Ofcom.

The tough-talking morning show host, who has helped rocket the ITV show to its highest ever viewing figures, attracted a backlash on Twitter after casting doubt over Meghan Markle’s mental health claims in her explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey.

The UK’s television regulator announced it would launch an investigation following a flurry of complaints, driven by a social media campaign against the broadcaster – with many linking to the Ofcom official complaints page. 

Afterwards ITV CEO Carolyn McCall – who formerly worked for the left-wing Guardian newspaper – said that the broadcaster’s media and entertainment MD Kevin Lygo was speaking to Mr Morgan. 

It is understood Mr Morgan had been asked to apologise for his remarks yesterday which had been criticised by mental health campaigners but had declined. 

How Oprah used doctored and out-of-context headlines to smear the British press (while a third were from FOREIGN gossip mags)

Headlines shown on screen during the Oprah interview to paint British media coverage as hostile and ‘racist’ were mocked up by the production company, often edited to remove context – and a third of them came from foreign media, new analysis has revealed today. 

The two-hour programme, which aired on CBS This Morning, included cuttings of stories intended to confirm the Sussexes’ claim that UK newspapers were guilty of peddling racist abuse against Meghan. 

One segment showed a headline about how ‘Meghan’s seed will taint our Royal Family‘ – without noting that the story was actually exposing racist comments made by a model. 

The mocked-up version, which used a similar page design, included the quote but cut the remaining headline away.

Another story that appeared during the tell-all interview referred to a BBC programme that had portrayed Meghan as a ‘trailer trash American’. 

The actual article included an interview with actress Gbemisola Ikunelo, who created the character, explaining she invented it to find ‘humour in the ridiculous’ because it is ‘the opposite of how the Duchess really behaves’. 

And another appeared to use a quote from the story as if it were a headline – without showing the context behind it.

Meanwhile, 11 of more than 30 headlines shown during the interview were from American and Australian publications, according research by the Telegraph. MailOnline has contacted Oprah Winfrey’s network for comment.

The research comes as Society of Editors chief Ian Murray tonight resigned as executive director after the body came under fire for defending the UK press against accusations of racism. 

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The headline read 'BBC comedy portrays Meghan Markle as ''trailer trash'' American who threatens to knife Kate Middleton'. But the character was actually meant to be the opposite of what Meghan was really like

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The headline read 'BBC comedy portrays Meghan Markle as ''trailer trash'' American who threatens to knife Kate Middleton'. But the character was actually meant to be the opposite of what Meghan was really like

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The headline read ‘BBC comedy portrays Meghan Markle as ”trailer trash” American who threatens to knife Kate Middleton’. But the character was actually meant to be the opposite of what Meghan was really like  

IN REAL LIFE: The article as it appeared on the Telegraph's website - with Defence spelled the English way, not how the Americans mocked it up - makes it clear that the comedienne portraying Meghan as 'trailer trash' was doing so as it was 'finging humour' in a 'ridiculous' idea

IN REAL LIFE: The article as it appeared on the Telegraph's website - with Defence spelled the English way, not how the Americans mocked it up - makes it clear that the comedienne portraying Meghan as 'trailer trash' was doing so as it was 'finging humour' in a 'ridiculous' idea

IN REAL LIFE: The article as it appeared on the Telegraph’s website – with Defence spelled the English way, not how the Americans mocked it up – makes it clear that the comedienne portraying Meghan as ‘trailer trash’ was doing so as it was ‘finging humour’ in a ‘ridiculous’ idea

How it appeared: A Telegraph article appeared in the same segment about hostile newspaper coverage, shortly after the commentator described the reporting as ‘standing apart from what we’ve seen for any other royal’. 

The reality: The headline read ‘BBC comedy portrays Meghan Markle as ”trailer trash” American who threatens to knife Kate Middleton’.

But the story, from June 2019, included quotes from comedian Gbemisola Ikunelo, who voiced the character and said she conceived it as the opposite of Meghan to ‘find humour in the ridiculous’.

‘Anybody who has seen anything of Meghan Markle in public will know that she seems incredibly agreeable and friendly, always smiling,’ she said.

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The mocked-up headline purported to be from this website is reduced to a single quote and appeared as a commentator discussed 'undeniable racist overtones' in media coverage

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The mocked-up headline purported to be from this website is reduced to a single quote and appeared as a commentator discussed 'undeniable racist overtones' in media coverage

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The mocked-up headline purported to be from this website is reduced to a single quote and appeared as a commentator discussed ‘undeniable racist overtones’ in media coverage

IN REAL LIFE: The story - which was on the front of that day's Mail On Sunday - was a story exposing the suspension of the girlfriend of the UKIP leader for using the racist phrase that appeared in the headline. Producers removed all that context

IN REAL LIFE: The story - which was on the front of that day's Mail On Sunday - was a story exposing the suspension of the girlfriend of the UKIP leader for using the racist phrase that appeared in the headline. Producers removed all that context

IN REAL LIFE: The story – which was on the front of that day’s Mail On Sunday – was a story exposing the suspension of the girlfriend of the UKIP leader for using the racist phrase that appeared in the headline. Producers removed all that context

How it appeared: A Mail On Sunday article – which was also posted onto MailOnline – appeared as a commentator discussed ‘undeniable racist overtones’ in media coverage. 

The reality: It was actually a piece exposing racist remarks about the Duchess by Jo Marney, the then girlfriend of former Ukip leader Henry Bolton. 

The full online headline said Marney had been suspended from the party over the comments.

The front page headline in print for the same story, from January 2018 – ‘Vile Racist Attack on Meghan by Mistress of Ukip Chief’ – was not shown in the programme. 

WHAT THEY SHOWED: Oprah's team reduced this Telegraph article to a headline suggesting the Duchess 'doesn't speak our language'. As they mocked up the Telegraph's website, they spelled

WHAT THEY SHOWED: Oprah's team reduced this Telegraph article to a headline suggesting the Duchess 'doesn't speak our language'. As they mocked up the Telegraph's website, they spelled

WHAT THEY SHOWED: Oprah’s team reduced this Telegraph article to a headline suggesting the Duchess ‘doesn’t speak our language’. As they mocked up the Telegraph’s website, they spelled 

IN REAL LIFE: The piece - an opinion column - has the subdeck that explains it is critiquing the Duchess's 'earnest gushing' which the writer finds to be 'like nails down a blackboard'

IN REAL LIFE: The piece - an opinion column - has the subdeck that explains it is critiquing the Duchess's 'earnest gushing' which the writer finds to be 'like nails down a blackboard'

IN REAL LIFE: The piece – an opinion column – has the subdeck that explains it is critiquing the Duchess’s ‘earnest gushing’ which the writer finds to be ‘like nails down a blackboard’

How it appeared: Another Telegraph story flashed up as Oprah suggested Meghan had been the victim of media attacks soon after joining the Royal Family, and shortly after a commentator described the ‘racial overtones’ of media coverage.   

The reality: The article, by the sketch writer Michael Deacon, appeared two months ago – after the couple had left the UK.

It claimed Meghan ‘speaks Californian … a hippie version of corporate management-speak’, before listing a series of gushing ‘Woke’ phrases. 

The story was sub-headed: ‘No doubt the Duchess means well. But to jaded British ears, her earnest gushing is like nails down a blackboard.’  

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The interview flashed up a Guardian headline apparently referring neutrally to Danny Baker talking about comparing Archie to 'a chimp'

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The interview flashed up a Guardian headline apparently referring neutrally to Danny Baker talking about comparing Archie to 'a chimp'

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The interview flashed up a Guardian headline apparently referring neutrally to Danny Baker talking about comparing Archie to ‘a chimp’

IN REAL LIFE? No such headline is immediately available on the Guardian's website. This, from the aftermath of Baker's sacking, is their story about him talking about his Tweet and apologising for it

IN REAL LIFE? No such headline is immediately available on the Guardian's website. This, from the aftermath of Baker's sacking, is their story about him talking about his Tweet and apologising for it

IN REAL LIFE? No such headline is immediately available on the Guardian’s website. This, from the aftermath of Baker’s sacking, is their story about him talking about his Tweet and apologising for it

The BBC Radio 5 Live host sparked outrage after he uploaded this image of a couple clinging on to a monkey wearing a suit with the caption: 'Royal baby leaves hospital'

The BBC Radio 5 Live host sparked outrage after he uploaded this image of a couple clinging on to a monkey wearing a suit with the caption: 'Royal baby leaves hospital'

The BBC Radio 5 Live host sparked outrage after he uploaded this image of a couple clinging on to a monkey wearing a suit with the caption: ‘Royal baby leaves hospital’

How it appeared: Following comments about ‘racist abuse’ Meghan allegedly suffered from the press was a headline in the Guardian referring to a notorious tweet by BBC radio presenter Danny Baker. 

The reality: Baker’s 2019 tweet showing a couple with a monkey tagged ‘Royal baby leaves hospital’ prompted an outcry and led to him being sacked by the BBC. 

Many viewed the tweet as racist. However, after the story was initially published, the 61-year-old broadcaster denied this and called it a ‘stupid unthinking gag’ about class. 

Baker said that he was unaware of who the mother of the baby even was: ‘I didn’t know which of our royal princesses had given birth.

‘My go-to photo when any posh people have a baby is this absurd chimpanzee in a top hat leaving the hospital. Had it not been Meghan – perfectly good joke. I was trying to make a point about class and it’s just preposterous.’ 

Baker’s response to the allegation of racism was not mentioned in the Oprah broadcast. 

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The producers created what appeared to be a grab from this website with a line about 'rich and exotic DNA' written in a large typeface where the headline would normally be

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The producers created what appeared to be a grab from this website with a line about 'rich and exotic DNA' written in a large typeface where the headline would normally be

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The producers created what appeared to be a grab from this website with a line about ‘rich and exotic DNA’ written in a large typeface where the headline would normally be

IN REAL LIFE: The text the show featured appeared in a column by the Prime Minister's sister Rachel Johnson. This is how it actually appeared online. The line of text that the show made appear to be the headline was in fact taken from the middle of paragraph three of the 11-paragraph piece

IN REAL LIFE: The text the show featured appeared in a column by the Prime Minister's sister Rachel Johnson. This is how it actually appeared online. The line of text that the show made appear to be the headline was in fact taken from the middle of paragraph three of the 11-paragraph piece

IN REAL LIFE: The text the show featured appeared in a column by the Prime Minister’s sister Rachel Johnson. This is how it actually appeared online. The line of text that the show made appear to be the headline was in fact taken from the middle of paragraph three of the 11-paragraph piece

How it appeared: A 2016 column by Boris Johnson’s sister, Rachel was shown as a single sentence, ‘Rich and exotic DNA, Miss Markle’s mother is a dread-locked African-American lady from the wrong side of the tracks…’ It came in a segment describing the ‘racist abuse’ Meghan allegedly received. 

The reality: The actual comment piece, which appeared in the Mail On Sunday and was also posted on MailOnline, described Meghan as genetically ‘blessed’. 

It said she would help the Windsors ‘thicken their watery, thin blue blood and Spencer pale skin and ginger hair with some rich and exotic DNA’, before lauding the duchess for her acting success and social conscience. 

Following criticism at the time, Rachel Johnson explained that the article ‘celebrated the fact that she was mixed race’ – although she admitted she regretted the phrasing. 

She told the Express: ‘I meant that in marvellous contrast to the gingery white blood of his own blood family on his maternal side. But it didn’t go down well and I hereby apologise Harry.’ 

The mocked up version of The Sun's 'Meghan made Kate cry' headline which appeared during the Oprah Winfrey interview

The mocked up version of The Sun's 'Meghan made Kate cry' headline which appeared during the Oprah Winfrey interview

The mocked up version of The Sun’s ‘Meghan made Kate cry’ headline which appeared during the Oprah Winfrey interview

The real version of the Sun’s headline. Both are almost the same, with pictures, and other text taken out

How it appeared: ‘Meg Made Kate Cry’ on top of a header for The Sun newspaper.

The reality: This was the same, albeit a mocked up version with the rest of the stories and furniture removed – most likely for legal purposes.  The main story text and sub-headline have also been removed. 

The sub-head sheds more context on the alleged incident, adding that the row was due to the ‘bride’s strict demands’ over Princess Charlotte’s dress for her wedding. 

The Duchess of Sussex addressed the story – which was widely reported in February 2019 – during her interview with Oprah. The story claimed that in the lead-up to the wedding, Meghan had made Kate Middleton cry during a row over a dress for Princess Charlotte. In her Oprah interview, Meghan accepted there had been a row, but said Kate was the one to make her cry, and insisted the Duchess of Cambridge had apologised to her after.

A version of the Express' story about Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle's rift which appeared during the Oprah interview

A version of the Express' story about Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle's rift which appeared during the Oprah interview

A version of the Express’ story about Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle’s rift which appeared during the Oprah interview

The real version that was posted on the Express' website - with the sub head underneath

The real version that was posted on the Express' website - with the sub head underneath

The real version that was posted on the Express’ website – with the sub head underneath

How it appeared: Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle rift: Why did Kate cry during Royal Wedding rehearsal?

The reality: The Oprah interview version does appear identical to the real version. However, it does crop above the sub-head, which gives more context over the row in 2018.

The subhead mentions the reported ‘row’ between the pair – which Meghan confirmed had happened. However she claimed Kate had made her cry, and apologised for it, in her interview with Oprah.

The mocked up version of Star magazine's 'Meghan is ruining my life' headline which appeared during the Oprah Winfrey interview

The mocked up version of Star magazine's 'Meghan is ruining my life' headline which appeared during the Oprah Winfrey interview

The mocked up version of Star magazine’s ‘Meghan is ruining my life’ headline which appeared during the Oprah Winfrey interview

The real version published in Star magazine

The real version published in Star magazine

The real version of the ‘Meghan is ruining my life’ published in Star magazine – an American publication

How it appeared: Meghan is ruining my life!

The reality: Again, the headline is exactly the same, but is clearly a composed image, rather than the real version, which appeared in Star magazine on February 11, 2019.

The article, which featured a picture of the Duchess of Cambridge rubbing her eye claimed it had the ‘inside’ into the ‘nastiest fight after Harry’s wife makes her daughter Charlotte cry’.

On top of this, Star Magazine is actually an American publication – and this magazine was published in the US and not in the UK.

The interview showed a series of other cuttings from newspaper and magazine stories as the commentator described 'a daily onslaught of vitriol and condemnation from the UK press

The interview showed a series of other cuttings from newspaper and magazine stories as the commentator described 'a daily onslaught of vitriol and condemnation from the UK press

The interview showed a series of other cuttings from newspaper and magazine stories as the commentator described ‘a daily onslaught of vitriol and condemnation from the UK press

However, a third of the headlines shown were also taken from foreign media, according to the Telegraph's analysis

However, a third of the headlines shown were also taken from foreign media, according to the Telegraph's analysis

However, a third of the headlines shown were also taken from foreign media, according to the Telegraph’s analysis

How it appeared: The interview showed a series of other cuttings from newspaper and magazine stories as the commentator described ‘a daily onslaught of vitriol and condemnation from the UK press.’ 

The reality: A third of the headlines shown were also taken from foreign media, according to the Telegraph’s analysis.

One said ‘Harry trapped in marriage from hell!’ – but that was taken from the American tabloid the National Enquirer.

Another National Enquirer headline was also used which said ‘Monster Meghan exposed!’

In total 11 of more than 30 headlines shown during the interview were from American and Australian tabloids, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Of the 23 headlines from British news outlets which featured, around 14 were not published in print and only appeared online.

Other foreign publications used included Us Weekly, a celebrity magazine based in New York, and the Australia-based New Idea magazine.

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