Words Have Meaning Part II

By Rachel Daniels 8 Comments

Since the publication of the article “Words have meaning”, Eamonn Holmes, the presenter of the ITV show This Morning, has issued an apology to its viewers for the use of the word “uppity”, citing his ignorance of the meaning of the word and its racist connotation. I do not know about you but I am not buying it.

Let’s take a slight detour for some background. My husband has a position in the UN, in media, that involves training media personnel/journalists on word choice in their reportage, especially in a cultural context. This is important in conflict-stricken countries where the use of words and knowledge of the contextual import are crucial to journalists when filing their reports. Careless use of words can spell danger to the journalists and also for the subject(s) of their reporting. The journalists were trained to choose their words very carefully lest their word choice add fuel to the proverbial fire, instead of tempering an already volatile and dangerous situation. Or even worse, starting a fire where non existed. I imagine this concept is not foreign to any entity that has a vested interest in promoting relationships.

I cite this example to emphasise the importance of cultural competence in reporting. Afterall, apart from visual images, all the reader /audience has to go by are the words the reporter/presenter uses to paint a picture or tell a story. Based on this, the audience will appraise the situation or subject and form an impression. This is why the British media’s continual use of certain trigger words in their headlines when reporting about the Duchess of Sussex is problematic. They have used words which, over a long period of time, have turned sections of the British public against the Duchess of Sussex, but when you ask these same people, exactly what it is that they do not like about the Duchess, they have nothing concrete to offer but regurgitate the words they have been fed by the media.




A few centuries ago your word, followed by a handshake, was a binding contract. Even now, any person of integrity, who wishes to enjoy the public trust understands that their word must count for something. For a veteran presenter like Eamonn Holmes who has been at this for forty years now and is somewhat of a respected household name in the United Kingdom, to use the word uppity to describe the only non-white member of the royal family is dangerous and an utter failure of professionalism, even by the standards of his “apology”.

The article states:
“Debating an incident at Wimbledon, in which attempts had been made to stop tennis fans photographing the Duchess of Sussex, Holmes had used the term to “describe what he interpreted as arrogance”, according to Ade Rawcliffe, ITV’s Head of Diversity.
Holmes had said: “If you have an uppity attitude, you’re only through the door two minutes and suddenly you’re sitting at Wimbledon and your royal protection are saying, ‘No photographs, no photographs!”
The article states under the heading “Unaware of history” that “We are not saying that ignorance is in any way a defence, he was using the term to describe what he interpreted as arrogance.”

The dictionary definition of the word arrogant is as follows:

arrogant

adjective
having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.
“he’s arrogant and opinionated”
Similar: haughty, conceited, hubristic, self-important, opinionated

I call BS! For those of us who have seen the video of the exchange between Eamonn Holmes, his co-host and blogger Elaine Lui, his body language failed to disguise the contempt he had for the Duchess. A few points:

  1. Note the use of phrase, “ you’re only through the door two minutes”. Even though the only criteria for becoming a member of the royal family, save birth, is marriage by which Duchess Meghan legitimately became a royal spouse and senior member of the royal family(much like her cohorts), Eamon Holmes’ use of the phase implies that he does not consider the Duchess of Sussex to be worthy of the respect, deference and consideration accorded the other royal spouses by virtue of their status. At least not yet, if it were up to him. Is there a waiting period for full maturation of royal status at which time any request for privacy and respect will not be viewed by him as acting above one’s station ?
  2. The veracity of the Wimbledon story is still in question for several reasons; (a)Sally Jones (the reporter who alleged she was told not to take pictures of the duchess) was not pictured anywhere in the Duchess’ vicinity at the tennis match, (b)Sally Jones altered her account of events at least twice, (c)the only individual who was pictured being admonished by the royal protection officers was in very close proximity to Duchess Meghan and a male who is not Sally Jones, (d) several press pictures &video of the Duchess at said tennis match exist, and privately owned ones can be found on individual IG accounts and none captured this incident, (e) the Duchess was pictured speaking to a young chap while the people around were taking pictures on their phones (f) As much as the Duchess was publicly vilified for the “reported” incident, Sally Jones hasn’t once publicly had to answer simple questions about the veracity of her story from so-called ‘journalists’. What are the odds that there are pictures of all these different scenarios except the one that “ supposedly happened”? Give me a break!
  3. According to Eamonn Holmes, the Duchess’ RPO redirecting a man away from her personal space is arrogance on the Duchess’ part. Her security personnel whose job it is to ensure her absolute safety doing just that, and whose action on the day were not different from what has previously occurred for other royals. Arrogant. For her to be treated with a modicum of respect for her personal space, which we all expect by the way and associate its intrusion with rudeness, Eamonn Holmes thought that Duchess Meghan was “having or revealing an exaggerated sense of her own importance or abilities”. Why in the world would that be ?
  4. Also note that the discussion was about Duchess Meghan being unfairly singularly criticized for the couples’ decisions, a point that Ms. Lui questioned. Eamonn’s justification for that was to invoke the still questionable Wimbledon story. Completely unrelated. Again, Eamonn’s eagerness to excuse the Duchess’s being wrongly blamed for joint decisions of a unit, of which one is a born royal, for any tangential reason, is emblematic of the British media’s general posture towards the Duchess of Sussex. They rarely give her the benefit of the doubt. It is frankly puzzling for a woman who is a known hardworking high achiever, whose passions are known or at least widely written about, and of whom first person testimonials( past and present) by people who have no agenda are nothing but stellar.




I applaud the viewers who lodged complaints to ITV network, which brought about this so-called apology. However, this qualified apology on behalf of Eamonn Holmes just does not cut it. Actually his “arrogant” excuse/ explanation exposes the problem at heart. It shows no remorse for the use of a racist descriptor for a highly placed woman of colour and in a way doubles down. Mr. Holmes should have just issued an unreserved apology and called it a day. Eamonn Holmes and the rest of them are free to dislike the Duchess of Sussex for any reason including prejudice. What they are not at liberty to do, is to shape their audiences’ perception based on their personal biases.

The fact that so-called journalists are ill-prepared to intelligently cover the only non-white member of the royal family is an indictment of the “journalists” and their parent networks or organizations. It is a new day and the way I see it, these people who bring us the news are not ready for primetime. The time for token diversity in British media organisations is past; It’s way overdue for real diversity training in those media houses and more importantly, meaningful diversification of their operations across the board. They have gotten away with this bad behaviour for far too long( think pro-athletes etc). Unless they want to continually dwell in the gutters of gossipy tabloid nonsense, a high standard of reporting is required. Without meaningful acclimation, they are not worthy of the respect and sway that some freely accord.

Spread some Duchess of Sussex facts

Last updated on December 5th, 2019

8 comments on “Words Have Meaning Part II

  1. Rose

    One of Eamonn’s biggest beef that day was that Meghan had not revealed the name of their new dog, how ridiculous is that. Why is it always Meghan, as the Canadian journalist was trying to point out. His wife Ruth, who is his co-host then goes to the other show she hosts sometimes, Loose Women and spews more hate about Meghan. The way the British Media treats her is incredible, they never talk about her work, it is always bash, bash!
    This is dragging somebody else in the fray, but I remember during the Australian tour one of the biggest stories that came out is Outland Denim. The founder was making the rounds talking about the immediate effect of Meghan wearing their jeans. The result at the time was that they were going to be able to help about 40 More women right away. That is quite an effect in a matter of days. I remember being flabbergasted that Susanna who hosts the morning show with you know who, could only talk about how terrible Meghan was for baking banana bread, and apparently not caring enough for her father as though she knew anything about that relationship. Here is a woman who probably makes millions, gets her make-up done, access to free wardrobe, probably car service, and she couldn’t take a minute to applaud another woman for helping other women in really dire conditions! Totally twisted!

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  2. Corlis

    An excellent and accurate article. I too don’t buy into Mr. Eamonn’s apology. Even if he thought the word “uppity” meant “arrogant, he was still insulting and not giving Duchess Meghan the respect due to her and her new title. Words do have meaning and Mr. Eamonn should keep his opinions to himself (especially if they are character assassination of a person). Thank you for your article. God bless you and yours.

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  3. Trinette L Mitchell

    This article is absolutely brilliant! Amazing and very well written. This man needs to make a public apology, a written apology from his network is just not good enough. And I agree, he knew exactly what he was saying. This is why it is so important that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when their lawsuits. I do not want them to settle oh, and the reward needs to be so astronomical that it gives all news outlets in Britain pause before they hit send on their computer.

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  4. Nondumiso

    Thank you Rachel, for the well researched article, You are spot on, words have meaning. These Royal reporters play ignorant and i believe that by using those words they knew exactly what they meant.

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  5. Jesmin Winters

    Thank you so much .Brilliant, well written research article.
    I have kept my eyes on how the media tries to manipulate the narrative.
    I have been following closely, so indeed I have always anticipated your close objective voice. Keep up the good work.

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  6. Ivy Barrow

    Absolutely A1 article. Superb. I feel that all the ‘famous’ reporters in the Royal Rota (how many knew that there were others, including at least one POC in that group) and those in the televised media industry, who are always happy to be in front of a camera, need to be put out to pasture. All of them, in their respective groups, have been made to feel better in terms of competence in their professions and importance to the media industry, usually by people who hold similar views and these so called journalists are mirrowing the behaviour of the people at the top of the industry. Ie the owners, the media barons. In other words, those who want the media to portray a particular perspective. These so called journalists are the public faces of their political and culteral views.

    The Royal Rota is nothing more than an elitist club, which believe that they ‘run the media world’ and who desperately want to impress the bosses, not their bosses, but those right at the top of the tree. In fact the editors of the tabloid, are trying to do exactly the same. The TV journalists do the same. Nowhere in this does caring about public feature.

    It is about controlling the narrative. POC should not be in control at all. The resentment is deep. The cartel needs to be disbanded. RRs need to rotate into different areas of reporting. No one needs to be an expert on Royals but they do need to be well rounded competent journalists. Rotation prevents alliances forming up and down the chain of command, as well as between themselves and their so called ‘sources’ in the Firm. As for TV media people, they need to remember the responsibility they have to contain their personal views and be professional to camera. No matter how relaxed they feel in a studio, it is not a vehicle to spread hatred and increase risk of harm to any audience member.

    This private bullying club needs independent scrutiny. Regulation by people who mirror the owners of the media industry, is not the answer. No apology ever given in tv of tabloid is prominent. It is a tick box exercise and the resentment becomes worse not better. It is left like a festering wound which ensures that those on the receiving end of their ire, are in increased danger of repeated behaviour not less.

    The whole media industry has been allowed to develop into a private controlling syndicate, which doubles down when challenged and behaves in a very dangerous way towards those who dare to question their approach. Most of those on the receiving end of such bullying do not have the resources to challenge the industry. Concerns exist at the other end of the spectrum. Many celebs in the past have not wanted the media glare on themselves and their relatives long after litigation is over. Members of the Royal family have been the same until now. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have called time. Enough is enough. The Court Room now beckons.

    All those who work in media should take heed. This is already a watershed moment in history, not just media land. Whatever the outcome, there will be a major upheaval and it is well overdue in the industry. People in all the groups I mention above, are starting to jump ship already. Avoiding the inevitable scrutiny regarding the unnecessary and racist/cruel/questionable activity that they have put people through. The media juggernaut needs stopping and a new route map agreed. Plastic apologies will no longer suffice. There is a need for less drivers of said juggernauts, with the right skills and competencies and an up to date sat nav system and a recognition that they will not be allowed to drive the same route their whole career, in order to ensure that they do not get too comfortable at the wheel and be a danger to others as a result. Time for a change. A change is going to come. I have a dream. #Leveson2

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  7. Alicia

    Thank you Mrs. Daniels for your clear, concise and well researched article.
    It appears that the media is not aware that their veiled prejudice is so clear to those of us who recognize racism when we hear, see or read it. Their need to feel superior is so great that it blinds them to their own unconscious bias.
    I can only hope that Karma is “a thing.”

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  8. Gladys

    Thank you Racheal Daniels, i do agree with all what you’ve written,yes, these gutter British gossipers are not worthy to be called journalists for no proper trained journalist does behave as these people have behaved,for they have used their feelings & emotions on reporting on Duchess Meghan & their emotions & feelings being full of jealousy, envy has amounted into extreme hate being preached to their listeners & viewers, & in my opinion that fat irish Eamonn Holmes is the one who is uppity.

    Reply

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