You gotta love her probing, pull-no-punches approach and her adept interview skills. She never hesitated to ask the tough questions, and for the most part she got direct answers.
While I give both Markle and Prince Harry props for being incredibly open and vulnerable, it was impressive to watch Winfrey being the “active listener” — responding to what they said with spontaneous follow-up questions and not holding back her reactions to some of the shocking revelations, especially from Markle.
When the duchess told Winfrey that the family did not want their unborn child to be given a royal title and therefore he or she would not receive security, Winfrey said, “What? What do you mean? … How does that work? You must have had your suspicions about why they didn’t want to make Archie a prince — what are those thoughts? Did you think it’s because of his race? I know that’s a loaded question.”
Then Markle dropped the big bombshell, saying there had at the same time been concerns and conversations about how dark their son Archie’s skin might be when he was born. A visibly shocked Oprah responded: “What? Who is having that conversation with [Prince Harry] about how dark your baby is going to be?” Meghan declined to identify who in the royal family initiated that conversation because it would be “damaging to them.”
Another spontaneous moment came when Meghan talked about the “sad irony” of the past four years that while she had long advocated for women’s rights and women using their voices to speak out, “I was silent.” An incredulous Winfrey asked her: “Were you silent or silenced?” Meghan’s reply, “The latter.” Winfrey kept grilling her: “So how does it work? Were you told by the comms people or the institution to keep silent? How were you told to handle the tabloids, the gossip? Were you told to say nothing?”
Winfrey has proven herself to be in a league with now retired broadcast journalist and TV personality Barbara Walters, who had a 30-year tradition of interviewing nominees on Oscar night, often bringing them to tears with her probing questions. On her last such broadcast in 2010, The New York Times’ Bill Carter wrote, “She all but defined the celebrity television interview for a generation of viewers.”
On Sunday night, Winfrey gave a master class in ace interviewing to current and future generations of journalists.