When one thinks of English broadcaster, journalist, game show host, and writer Jeremy Clarkson, the first thing that comes to mind is the motoring programme Top Gear, or perhaps The Grand Tour. But over the years, the presenter has also made headlines for the numerous times he has said controversial and highly problematic things.
The most recent example of Clarkson’s vile thoughts came in the form of an article published on Friday 16 December 2022 in the British tabloid The Sun, in which he wrote two paragraphs about the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, and what he’d like to do to her.
In a manner that many have compared to fellow bigot Piers Morgan, Clarkson started his abusive rant by stating that he loathes Markle “on a cellular level.” He then wrote about how he dreams “of the day when she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her.”
In what could be seen as a poor attempt to back himself up, he added: “Everyone who’s my age thinks the same way.” As expected, Clarkson’s comments have since drawn widespread outrage and condemnation. Comedian John Bishop tweeted that the remarks were a “blatant appeal to incite humiliation and violence on a woman.”
Even the presenter’s own daughter, Emily Clarkson, who hosts the Should I Delete That? podcast was praised by many on social media for an Instagram post that was captioned: “I want to make it very clear that I stand against everything my dad said about Meghan Markle and I remain standing in support of those who are targeted with online hatred.”
Among the wave of backlash which flooded the internet after the article came out, many were quick to point out that the very fact that Clarkson can write things like this—words that will only incite more violence and hate towards the Suits actress—and publish them unashamed, confirms that Rupert Murdoch has truly poisoned and rotted our public life.
It’s also no coincidence that the column went to print only a day after the final instalment of the six-part Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan was released on Thursday. Among other things touched upon in the series, which was mainly made of exclusive interview footage with the couple, the racism the actress faced—both from the British media and the royal family itself—was probably the one that resulted in the most controversy online.
Commenting on Clarkson’s words as well as what had been shared in the Netflix docuseries, social activist and chief executive of the Five Foundation, Nimco Ali, tweeted: “A young Black woman opens up about her struggle with suicidal thoughts as a result of the abuse she got from the media, and this is how some men in the media react. This is absolutely horrific.”
Markle hate train aside, in 2009, Clarkson told Top Gear magazine that “the problem is that television executives have got it into their heads that if one presenter on a show is a blond-haired, blue-eyed heterosexual boy, the other must be a black Muslim lesbian. Chalk and cheese, they reckon, works. But here we have Top Gear setting new records after six years using cheese and cheese. It confuses them.”
A year after this gem of self-praise, he announced that, according to his ‘expert’ opinion, “the burka doesn’t work.” How did Clarkson come to this conclusion, you wonder? “I was in a cab in Piccadilly the other day when a woman in a full burka crossing the road in front of me tripped over the pavement, went head over heels and up it came, red G-string and stockings,” he told Top Gear viewers at the time.
From more racist and discriminatory statements to insulting the iconic and beloved George Michael, Clarkson’s list of problematic moments is a long one—and sadly, it seems like it’s only going to extend as his weekly column for The Sun carries on platforming his “tongue-in-cheek views.”