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ITV has been forced to edit part of Oprah Winfrey's interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after it was revealed that it included misleading and distorted headlines which portrayed British press coverage of the couple as racist.
Headlines that were flashed on the screen during the controversial interview with the US chat show host were manipulated to back up the couple's assertion that they were the victims of bigoted coverage.
Associated Newspapers, the publisher of The Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail and MailOnline, complained to Viacom CBS – the US TV giant which aired last week's two-hour programme – about “the deliberate distortion and doctoring of newspaper headlines”.
It also demanded that ITV remove the “misleading and inaccurate headlines” from the programme, which remains available on its ITV Hub catch-up service, according to MailOnline.
The interview was watched by 11.1 million viewers in the UK and 17.1 million in the US.
In a complaint to CBS, Liz Hartley, editorial legal director at Associated Newspapers, said: “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.”
She added: "This editing was not made apparent to viewers and, as a result, this section of the programme is both seriously inaccurate and misleading".
The programme showed a headline from The Daily Telegraph that read: 'The real problem with Meghan Markle: she just doesn't speak our language.'
However, the second line of the headline, which was not shown, made clear the article was not mocking the Duchess’s ethnicity, but her habit of using “hippie corporate management speak”.
Another example, from January 2018, involved a story in The Mail on Sunday which revealed how the girlfriend of the then Ukip leader Henry Bolton had made racist remarks about Meghan.
Producers chose not to show the newspaper's headline about the 'Vile Racist Attack' but instead used a small part of a MailOnline headline which quoted one of the woman's vile messages – but omitted the rest of the headline.
An ITV spokesman said it would remove three manipulated Daily Mail, MailOnline and Mail on Sunday headlines, plus a headline wrongly attributed to the Guardian.
However, the out-of-context Daily Telegraph headline will remain.
Conservative MP Giles Watling, a member of the Commons Media Select Committee, said: “Any future broadcasts of this interview should come with a health warning for viewers.
“People need to know that what they are watching is not necessarily the truth and, in the use of newspaper headlines, a complete distortion of the facts.”
Ms Winfrey's company, Harpo Productions, said: “We stand by the broadcast in its entirety”.
CBS did not respond to MailOnline’s request for comment.