What do Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have in common with the likes of Donald Trump, Kanye West, Elon Musk, Elizabeth Holmes and Sam Bankman-Fried?
According to Politico Magazine editor Joanna Weiss, they are all attention-seeking narcissists who have overstayed their welcome — and some have gotten their just deserts.
In her latest opinion piece, titled “2022 Is the Year We All Finally Got Tired of Narcissists,” Weiss makes the argument that by doggedly pursuing the limelight, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have gone from sympathetic figures to sources of annoyance — not unlike some of the other larger-than-life public figures who have fallen from grace.
“My natural sympathy for the couple started turning to irritation, and it occurred to me that ego has its limits,” Weiss writes, referring to her experience of watching the former royal couple’s Netflix documentary, “Harry and Meghan.”
“And it struck me that the overreach that led to the Sussexes’ critically panned mega-series is the same impulse that turned Elon Musk into a terror on Twitter, that prompted Ye to up the ante of outrageous behavior until he crossed the line into blatant antisemitism, that sent Bankman-Fried from the top of the world to a Bahamian jail,” she adds.
Weiss conceded that while the Sussexes air some “legitimate complaints” in their six-part docuseries, which premiered earlier this month, she laments that those are “wedged between glamour shots from footage of Meghan getting fitted for ballgowns to a vast collection of flattering photos and videos they took during their royal exit, apparently preparing for a photogenic tell-all.”
Weiss argues that the pair made some smart choices upon their exit from the British royal family, including signing a reported $100 million development deal with Netflix and landing a reported $20 million advance for Harry’s tell-all memoir, “Spare,” but according to the Politico editor, their documentary did them a disservice by exposing their “vanity” to the world.
Weiss, however, admits that while Harry and Meghan may be “tiresome,” they are “benign” compared to some of the world’s most notorious narcissists, including West, now known as Ye, who saw his fame curdle to infamy and his lucrative Adidas deal dissolve into thin air after spewing a litany of anti-Semitic remarks.
Weiss also makes the case that 2022 has been a banner year for narcissists’ comeuppance, with disgraced Theranos founder Holmes and cryptocurrency wunderkind Bankman-Fried both rocked by cataclysmic reversals of fortune.
“The more adulation they got, the more dramatic the fall,” Weiss writes.
Holmes, who had set out to disrupt medicine with her innovative blood-testing company — but did not have the technology to actually make it happen — was convicted of fraud and sentenced in November to 11 years in prison.
Bankman-Fried, the founder of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, was going to revolutionize finance. Instead, he was arrested in the Bahamas last week after being indicted on fraud, money laundering and conspiracy charges for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme that swindled investors.
And then there is Musk, who was displaced as the world’s wealthiest man after his chaotic takeover of Twitter, which sparked an exodus of users from the social media platform and caused shares of one of his other companies, Tesla, to tumble 30% this month.
The bombastic billionaire seemed to have reached his nadir last week when he asked Twitter users to weigh in on whether he should step down as CEO, and more than 57% voted “yes.” Musk said he would comply with the results of the poll as soon as he finds someone “stupid enough” to replace him.
According to Weiss, this year also has been particularly bad for another prominent “narcissist,” Trump, who found himself mired in investigations, saw his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, raided by FBI agents and suffered through disastrous midterm elections, where the vast majority of his hand-picked candidates lost.
To top it all off, the House January 6 select committee earlier this month made criminal referrals for the 45th president stemming from his role in the thwarted insurrection.
“If Trump is no longer invincible, his allies of convenience finally have reason to ignore him,” the article states. “And for Trump, there’s nothing worse than being ignored.”
But according to Weiss, Trump’s case could serve as a teachable moment. When he unveiled a line of NFTs featuring artist renderings of the former host of “The Apprentice” dressed as a superhero, an astronaut and a cowboy, he was brutally mocked by his critics and supporter alike — but 45,000 of the arguably cringey NFTs still sold out in less than 24 hours.
Weiss believes there is an important lesson to be drawn from that: “It’s hard to count any narcissist out; it’s not in their nature to give up the stage, even in exile, sometimes from jail. When they want attention, they get creative.”