- More than 70 female MPs signed a letter headed by Holly Lynch in support of Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, calling tabloid reports against her “outdated” with “colonial undertones.”
- Markle thanked Lynch for the letter, which comes after she and Prince Harry filed lawsuits against groups of the British press for bullying and invasions of privacy.
- The Duke of Sussex’s lawsuit accuses outlets of hacking while Markle’s lawsuit says The Daily Mail unlawfully published a private letter she wrote to her father, which she claims is part of their larger effort to regularly post negative coverage of her.
MPs Pen Letter Supporting Meghan Markle
Members of Parliament have signed a letter in support of Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, after she filed lawsuits against British media alleging bullying and invasions of privacy.
The letter, published Tuesday, was written by Holly Lynch, a member of the House of Commons, and was signed by 71 other female MPs.
“As women MPs of all political persuasions, we wanted to express solidarity with you in taking a stand against the often distasteful and misleading nature of the stories printed in a number of our national newspapers concerning you, your character, and your family,” the letter reads.
The women said they wanted to call out “what can only be described as outdated, colonial undertones” on the press’ coverage of Markle.
“With this in mind we expect the national media to have the integrity to know when a story is in the national interest, and when it is seeking to tear a woman down for no apparent reason,” the letter continued. “You have our assurances that we stand with you in solidarity on this. We will use the means at our disposal to ensure that our press accept your right to privacy and show respect, and that their stories reflect the truth.”
Lynch further commented on her motivations for writing this letter to ITV on Wednesday. She called reports on Markle xenophobic and added that this is “unacceptable this day in age.”
“She’s here, she’s married our prince, they’ve got a young son, we really want to welcome her to our society and I’m afraid not all of the articles in our national press really reflect that and it’s time that that stops,” Lynch said.
She also said that Markle had called her and thanked her for her support.
Meghan and Harry File Lawsuits
At the beginning of October, both Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, filed lawsuits against groups in British media. The Duke of Sussex’s suit alleges that The Sun and The Daily Mirror have engaged in phone hacking. Markle’s claims that Associated Newspapers, which owns The Daily Mail unlawfully published a private letter in part of their larger effort to report negative things about her.
The Duke of Sussex wrote a statement about this suit, describing these attacks from the press as painful.
“There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been,” he wrote.
“There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives,” he continued. “Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn’t acceptable, at any level.“
He then compared his wife’s relationship with the press to that of his mother, Princess Diana. She died in a car crash in 1997 attempting to flee from paparazzi.
“I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person,” he wrote. “I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
British Tabloids’ Coverage on Meghan Markle
Markle has been the subject of incessant and often negative press since her relationship with the Duke of Sussex went public in 2016. The Daily Mail faced criticism for publishing racist headlines about her, including one that said she was “almost straight outta Compton” and another that said her family went “from cotton slaves to royalty.”
Once she married into Britain’s Royal Family, coverage around her grew. Markle has been criticized for her presence supporting her friend Serena Williams at Wimbledon, sending “demanding” e-mails to her staff in the morning, and for not being as good at social media as Queen Victoria, who died in 1901, would have been.
Recently, she and the Duke of Sussex were criticized for taking a private jet. When Markle later flew commercial, however, she made more headlines for arriving an hour late. She also saw a recent wave of attacks after guest-editing British Vogue. Reports from The Daily Mail and The Sun were eager to condemn the issue, though others pointed out that Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, once guest-edited The Huffington Post to much less backlash.
The press has been particularly unrelenting when it came to Markle’s pregnancy and now role as a new mother. Tabloids thoroughly covered the cost of her baby shower, one article criticized way she holds her son Archie, and another column accused her of suffering from “American Wife Syndrome.”
Markle’s family has also been the subject of constant headlines. There is no shortage of reports on her father, whom she no longer speaks to, as well as other reports tying Markle to members of her family after incidents having nothing to do with her.
The impacts of this coverage became a major point of public conversation after a clip from an ITV documentary went viral. A reporter asked her about how these new pressures have impacted her mental health. She said that during pregnancy and now as a new mother, she has been in a vulnerable state.
“So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mum or trying to be a newlywed. It’s um… yeah. I guess, also thank you for asking, because not many people have asked if I’m okay, but it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes,” she said.
“And the answer is — would it be fair to say ‘Not really OK’?” the reporter followed up. “It’s really been a struggle?”
“Yes,” she responded.
See what others are saying: (NBC News) (BBC) (Town and Country)
“Don’t Worry Darling” Tops the Box Office Amid Bad Press
Audiences are already giving the film higher praise than critics did.
Young Women Flock to “Don’t Worry Darling”
Weeks of controversies and rumors did not prevent “Don’t Worry Darling” from finding victory at the box office, with the Olivia Wilde-directed thriller debuting at number one over the weekend and raking in $19.2 million.
Wilde also acted in the mid-century mystery, which starrs Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, and Gemma Chan.
Women led ticket sales for the picture, comprising 66% of the audience, according to several reports. At least partially due to the appeal of Styles, crowds also skewed young, with over half under the age of 25.
Overseas, the film made over $10 million, bringing its total for the weekend to $30 million. That number is especially impressive since the R-rated drama had a budget of $35 million.
“Don’t Worry Darling” had been plagued with weeks of rumors about behind-the-scenes drama leading up to its release. Among other bouts of gossip, many online speculated that Pugh and Wilde had riffs on set, leading to Pugh’s refusal to promote the project. One report alleged the two got into a screaming match, but sources on set denied it.
Wilde and Shia LeBeouf, who was originally cast in the picture, also got into a public he-said-she-said about whether he quit the film or was fired.
The drama hit a boiling point during its premiere at the Venice Film Festival when Twitter users circulated a video they claimed showed Styles spiting on Pine, though both parties have denied that allegation.
A Film Riddled With Rumors
Furthering the bad press were the bad reviews. Critics largely panned the film, sticking it with a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. After this first weekend, moviegoers seem to have a more favorable outlook, as it has a 79% audience score as of Monday.
Jeff Goldstein, the distribution chief for Warner Bros., told the Associated Press that “the background noise” caused by these controversies “had a neutral impact” on its box office haul. The studio released a statement saying it was pleased with the movie’s earnings.
Some analysts believe that, if anything, the online gossip and fodder may have aided the film’s box office performance.
In a tweet recapping the weekend’s box office, Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore, said the “drama sparked a huge wave of interest.”
See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Box Office Mojo) (New York Times)
Senators Introduce Legislation Requiring Radios to Pay Royalties to Artists
Sen. Padilla argued the bill is necessary to give artists the “dignity and respect they deserve.”
The American Music Fairness Act
Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the American Music Fairness Act to the Senate on Thursday, a bill that would require radio stations to pay royalties to performers and rights holders.
The bill was previously introduced to the House last year. According to a release, the United States is the only democratic country where artists are not compensated for their music’s use on AM or FM radio. While songwriters and publishers receive payment, these stations have never been required to give a slice of the pie to performers and copyright holders.
On streaming and satellite radio, however, both groups receive royalty payments.
In a statement, Padilla said it is time the country starts treating “our musical artists with the dignity and respect they deserve for the music they produce and we enjoy every day.”
“California’s artists have played a pivotal role in enriching and diversifying our country’s music scene,” he added. “That is why passing the American Music Fairness Act is so important.”
“From Beale Street to Music Row to the hills of East Tennessee, the Volunteer State’s songwriters have undeniably made their mark,” Blackburn echoed. “Tennessee’s creators deserve to be compensated for their work. This legislation will ensure that they receive fair payment and can keep the great hits coming.”
The American Music Fairness Act would require terrestrial radio broadcasters to pay royalties to music creators when their songs are played. It would also protect smaller stations that either make less than $1.5 million in annual revenue or who have a parent company that makes less than $10 million in annual revenue by letting them play unlimited music for under $500 a year.
The bill would also require other countries to pay American artists for the use of their work.
Support From Major Music Groups
The legislation is endorsed by a number of groups, including the Recording Academy, SAG-AFTRA, and the American Federation of Musicians.
If passed, the bill could move a lot of money into the pockets of performers. According to the Recording Academy, when American music gets international airplay, other countries collect royalties for American artists, amounting to around $200 million every year. However, they “never pay those royalties because the U.S. does not reciprocate with our own performance right.”
Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA, argues that the money belongs to the artists.
“Broadcast companies profit from advertising sales because of the creative content musicians and singers record. It stands to reason that the performers who create the content deserve to be compensated just as songwriters are now,” Drescher said in a statement. “The reason it’s called the American Music Fairness Act is because the current situation is wholly unfair and it’s up to Congress to make it fair NOW!”
Last year, Representatives Steve Womack (R-AR) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced the Local Radio Freedom Act, a bill with essentially the opposite agenda. It aims to reserve radio’s royalty-free status. The American Music Fairness Act is being viewed as a counter-response to this bill.
Kanye West Says Catalog Is Potentially Being Sold Without His Permission: “Just Like Taylor Swift”
After Swift lost the rights to her life’s work, she took on the endeavor of re-recording her first six albums.
Kanye’s Catalog Potentially Up For Grabs
Following reports that Kanye West was considering selling his catalog, the artist took to Instagram on Tuesday to claim his work is potentially being sold without his approval.
On Monday, Billboard reported that West had been “quietly and intermittently shopping his publishing catalog.”
While the outlet’s sources did not reveal what price West was aiming for, Billboard estimated that West might be looking at a $175 million valuation for his discography. Some of Billboard’s sources seemingly suggested that West and his team were specifically behind the effort to sell his work, but others claimed the “catalog was never actively shopped” and instead, West had been receiving offers from potential buyers.
Not long after, several news outlets picked the story up and reported that West was gearing up to sell his catalog. West responded by writing on his Instagram story that this was not the case.
“Not For Sale”
“Just like Taylor Swift,” he said, referencing music mogul Scooter Braun purchasing Swift’s masters with Big Machine Records without her approval. “My publishing is being put up for my sale without my knowledge. Not for sale.”
Swift referred to the sale of her masters to Braun as her “worst case scenario.” In order to regain ownership of her work, she is in the process of re-recording her first six albums, all of which she originally made under Big Machine. Two have already been released and proved to be wildly commercially successful.
According to Forbes, it is unclear which of his albums West owns the masters to, if he owns any at all. Because of this, it is unknown what kind of position he would be put in if his catalog, which is currently managed by Sony, was sold.
The status of any potential for his work to be sold became foggier later on Tuesday when West shared screenshots of a text exchange he had. He asked an unidentified person what was happening with the catalog sale, and that person responded by calling it “fake news.”
“Of course every publisher wants to pitch [their] hardest buy, smh,” the text continued.
West did not further indicate if those texts were meant to clarify that his catalog was, in fact, not up for sale, or just further distance himself from any potential acquisition.