A pair of posts in March 2021 illustrated how a narrative can be laundered across several blogs — in this case, one of the many attempts to speculate about Meghan Markle’s possible goals after her departure from an active role in the British Royal Family.
On March 13 2021, English tabloid the Daily Mail published a story regurgitating the claim that Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, would seek political office in the United States, citing an unnamed source:
One senior Labour figure – a veteran of [former Prime Minister] Tony Blair’s Downing Street administration with strong links to Washington – claimed to The Mail on Sunday that Ms Markle, 39, was networking among senior Democrats with a view to building a campaign and fundraising teams for a tilt at the US Presidency.
In the next paragraph, the Mail added that “a source close to the Duchess of Sussex declined to comment.” The rest of the story was taken up by speculation and background information, but nothing to corroborate the source’s claim that Markle “was eyeing 2024” as a target.
From there, the story was aggregated onto other blogs including one hosted by failed vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. This post mostly regurgitated the original report but also added:
There’s evidence to suggest this is true.
According to the report, the California native retained her American citizenship when she married into the Royal Family as she previously mentioned wanting a political career.
Palin’s blog did not link to any story that could corroborate this statement. Markle did reportedly work in the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina prior to launching her acting career, but reports on her alleged political ambitions have often been couched in more use of anonymous sources. And as Variety Fair reported in September 2020, sometimes these sources do not even agree with one another:
“One of the reasons she was so keen not to give up her American citizenship was so she had the option to go into politics,” said a close friend of the royal. “I think if Meghan and Harry ever gave up their titles she would seriously consider running for president.”
However those working closely with Meghan insist she has no plans to pursue a political career. “While there’s no denying she is interested and engaged in politics as a topic, she harbors no ambition to enter a career in politics herself,” said one well-placed source.
Three months after that story was published, Omid Scobie — who co-wrote a biography on Markle and her husband Prince Harry — made news after saying that “she has her eyes set on the U.S. presidency.” He added, “Meghan is the embodiment of the American dream. One day we may see Meghan become president.”
Even as Scobie’s comments began circulating and recirculating online, though, blogs reporting his comments failed to note that neither he nor his co-author Carolyn Durand actually spoke to Markle for the project; Markle said in a court filing that she allowed a friend act as a third-party source for the authors out of concern that her father was spreading disinformation about her.
Speculation about Markle’s possible intentions have continued spreading online, however; in February 2021 the San Jose Mercury News published a story aggregating quotes from a “top political strategist” reacting months after the fact to a meeting Markle had with California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“She’s doing everything that’s appropriate and allowed given her new position but she’s definitely putting her toe in the water,” said Democratic Party operative Mike Trujillo. “And once your toe is in the water your whole foot is in and next thing you know you are knee-deep and then you are fully in.”