If you’ve been living under a rock, you might not know who Omid Scobie is. Here is the Coles Notes: He is a royal reporter based out of London who writes very sympathetically about Harry and Meghan. But more than that, he’s a royal reporter who seemingly wants to be a household name in America more than anywhere else, including the UK.
I sort of knew this subconsciously, but it recently occurred to me just how intent Omid is on becoming America’s number one royal reporter. With the fairytale of an American actress and British prince marrying in 2018, the market for content about the royal family for an American audience has skyrocketed. But when Meghan and Harry decided to give up their working royal roles and move to California full-time, the title of America’s royal journalist sweetheart became even more high-profile, and much more lucrative. So it makes sense that Omid is directing his career not to opportunities in the UK, but to those in America.
Here is some background on Omid. He’s UK born and raised, to a Scottish dad and Iranian mom. He also has an adorable dog named Yoshi. Yoshi is objectively an extremely good boy. Look at him! 🥺
In 2020, he wrote (with American royals reporter Carolyn Durand) the bestseller Finding Freedom, which gives an extremely sympathetic look inside look at Meghan and Harry’s relationship, marriage, and exit from the British Royal Family.
It’s not exactly a secret that Omid is in with the Sussexes and their camp. It’s been all but confirmed that Harry and especially Meghan directly contributed to Omid and Durand’s book, Finding Freedom. It was confirmed in legal statements by Meghan’s lawyers (during the Thomas Markle letter lawsuit) that she had allowed close friends to speak with Omid and Durand for the book, so that a portrait of Meghan that she thought was truthful (and, let’s be honest, sympathetic) would be put out into the world. Some reviews of the book include the word “hagiography”, if you’re wondering what the tone of the book is like.
Let’s take a look at some ways Omid is betting on becoming America’s top royal reporter:
He might have personal connections to Meghan’s life in Toronto
It’s pretty well known that Meghan has connections to Soho House, a members-only club that has locations in Toronto, London, New York, Amsterdam, Berlin, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Canadian businessman Markus Anderson is an executive for Soho House and has been close friends with Meghan for years. Anderson is also apparently a friend of Prince Harry, and it’s allegedly Markus who set up Harry and Meghan at a Soho House dinner in 2016. Here is Markus at Meghan and Harry’s wedding with American actress Isabel May. (A previous version of this post said that the picture was of Markus and Misha Nonoo, which was incorrect. I also stated that Markus and Misha were in a romantic relationship – that was also wrong. Apologies and thank you to lesleyc19 for correcting me!)
What does this have to do with Omid Scobie? Well, apparently, Omid and Markus used to be very close. I don’t think it’s out of the question for Markus to have facilitated Meghan and Omid getting together to strategize about what positive press coverage Omid could give to Meghan.
I want to reiterate that I have no concrete proof of Omid and Meghan strategizing or creating a PR campaign together. What I am saying is that Omid’s friends and Meghan’s friends run in the same circles, and it is very possible that they could have been introduced. It’s possible that they could have become friends. And it’s possible that Meghan and Omid both saw advantages to having a symbiotic relationship, especially when Meghan was still in the British Royal Family and felt that her side of the story wasn’t being shared.
Omid is smart, and knows that if he pledged his allegiance to Harry and Meghan and their narrative, it could be very beneficial for him. And it has been: Finding Freedom, Omid’s biography of the Sussexes, which included information that only Harry and Meghan and their friends could have given him – such as Meghan FaceTiming friends in the bath before her wedding – was a New York Times bestseller.
He’s all about that #LabelLife
Louis Vuitton! Gucci! Balenciaga! Dior! Wearing a designer brand discreetly is British. Wearing a designer and being loud about it/showing off the logo is very American.
I’ve said this before, but British high-society culture is mostly about having oodles of money but spending the majority of your life wearing this jacket in the rain and cold and wind:
Whereas in the States, you’re encouraged to show off your money with designer clothes. I think this is something that Meghan had a hard time with when she joined the BRF. It’s a totally different culture, and I think that after years of promoting herself and her accomplishments (including what clothes she could afford), sitting in the rain in an old Barbour jacket didn’t seem especially fun. In the same way, I think Omid is much more American in his thinking – that clothes should be fun and show off your sense of fashion and maybe even your socioeconomic status. In the UK, that’s seen as gauche and nouveau riche.
He has an American podcast
Omid’s podcast, The HeirPod, is produced by American television broadcaster ABC. It’s likely part of Omid’s overall deal with ABC, which would include his contract with Good Morning America. And ABC is owned by, you guessed it, Disney! So it makes sense that a Meghan-friendly company (Meghan voiced the Disney Nature documentary Elephant and Harry and Meghan were involved with the promotion of Disney’s newer version of The Lion King movie) would land Omid as a royal reporter.
Once Finding Freedom was about to be released in the summer of 2020, The HeirPod got an additional host – foreign ABC News correspondent Maggie Rulli. This allowed Omid to be asked about his book in a way that he wouldn’t have been able to if it was just him at the microphone. It also gave Americans who might not know a lot about the British Royal Family an entry point into talking about the royals, because Maggie Rulli seems to be less than well-versed in the history of the BRF, to put it mildly.
While most Brits and maybe even members of the Commonwealth might bristle at someone asking questions about how things like royal tours or households work, a good number of Americans will feel right at home due to their ignorance of the minutiae of the BRF. Omid provides a service for these people – an educated, polished British voice providing answers to your questions. The only issue with this is the fact that Omid isn’t giving an objective view of the Sussexes or the BRF, and most Americans aren’t well-versed enough to know it.
Personally, I really tried to listen to this podcast on a weekly basis. I know that it’s good for inside information on what narratives the Sussexes are pushing at any given moment. But when Maggie Rulli joined, the podcast was downgraded from “a real chore” to “unlistenable” in my mind. This is for a couple of reasons: Omid is now in the role of “explainer of all things royal”, which would be fine, if he was providing objective information, but he’s clearly skewing the information he’s giving to benefit Harry and Meghan; and Maggie doesn’t know enough about the BRF to understand that she’s only getting one (tilted) perspective of what’s going on. It’s just a mess.
Also, if things don’t look good for Harry or Meghan (or Omid), sometimes the story is simply not mentioned. My favourite instance of this: In late October 2020. when the privacy lawsuit between Associated Newspapers and Meghan Markle was in high gear and there were contentious hearings and statements from both parties, The HeirPod had an episode in which Omid and Maggie “visit[ed] one of Britain’s most haunted palaces in royal history for spooky tales and gruesome discoveries.” We don’t want to talk about a high-profile court case that might make us and our favourite royals look bad, so let’s dress in Halloween costumes and go to a haunted castle! Fun! (This episode of the podcast is no longer available.)
He works for American outlets
Omid is represented by Beverly Hills agency UTA, United Talent Agency. UTA is a massive American talent agency that represents the likes of Issa Rae, Malala Yousafzai, Stacey Abrams, and Charlize Theron. Very high profile, very American.
Aside from his HeirPod podcast, which is produced by ABC, Omid is a royal correspondent with ABC/Good Morning America. He also works as a royal correspondent for Harper’s Bazaar US, which is interesting to note, as it seems deliberate that he is working for the US arm of Harper’s and not the UK one.
I think it should be noted that Omid is doing this because there is an audience for positive Harry and Meghan content. He’s not doing this in a vacuum for no reason. Money is being made by American media that is positive and supportive of the Sussexes. So it’s not necessarily bad that Omid is going to American outlets to report his positive stories about Meghan and Harry.
What is frustrating about it is that he’s clearly working in tandem with/at the behest of Meghan and Harry and their camp, but insists that people call him an objective royal journalist. You can’t have it both ways. If Omid wanted to say, “I’m not really an objective journalist, but I have great sources close to the Sussexes and I will always give you good info on them,” I would say that’s fair. But that’s not what he’s doing.
Here is a portion of one of the legal documents from Meghan’s Associated Newspapers lawsuit, in which the judge in the trial confirms that it’s extremely likely that Meghan and her team are leaking legal documents to Omid specifically before they are made public:
Omid is creating pro-Sussex content and putting it on American, pro-Sussex media outlets, and then complaining when people call him biased. Of course he’s biased! Even the judge in this lawsuit thinks he’s biased, and that Meghan is feeding him information. Just own up to it, that would be so much easier.
He posts on American time
This was what really tipped me off to the fact that Omid is trying to make it in the States rather than in the UK. Sometimes I’ll be on Twitter or Instagram and will see that Omid has just posted something, even though it’s 2 or 3 in the morning London time. But in California time, that’s 7 or 8 at night – a much more likely time for people to be browsing on their phones.
Same with the weekly release of episodes of The HeirPod. Most royal podcasts in the UK are released around 4-5PM London time (in time for people’s commute home after work). Omid’s podcast, however, is released much later in the evening – usually around or past midnight London time.
It’s because he’s not aiming for UK listenership – he’s aiming for people in the United States to be able to listen to it on their evening commute. It’s so subtle and brilliant! I mean that sincerely. It’s not stated anywhere that this is a podcast for Americans, but it’s so perfectly crafted for them. The American co-host, the Explain Like I’m 5 vibe, the coordinated American-friendly release times. It’s very smart.
What do you think about Omid Scobie and his attempt at positioning himself as America’s #1 royal journalist? Am I on to something? Or is it a coincidence? I’d love to know your thoughts.
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