Rev Irene Monroe

By dissing Palin, Oprah hurts Obama

Filed By Rev Irene Monroe | September 10, 2008 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Entertainment, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Oprah, oprah show, oprah winfrey, Sarah Palin, television, voters, women

The media is abuzz with excitement about Republican Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska.

McCain's V.P. pick has stirred up excitement, especially for women in the G.O.P. But his pick has also stirred up anxiety as well as questions for many women across party lines.

And who's best to help this nation's women sort out their feelings?


But the doyenne of daytime talk has many of her loyal viewers disappointed if not downright mad at her refusal to have Palin on her show anytime soon.

Oprah released a statement saying her reason isn't personal, it's political.

There has been absolutely no discussion about having Sarah Palin on my show. At the beginning of this Presidential campaign when I decided that I was going to take my first public stance in support of a candidate, I made the decision not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates. I agree that Sarah Palin would be a fantastic interview, and I would love to have her on after the campaign is over.

But not everybody's buying it and a backlash is brewing. A group of Republican women from Florida, for example, is boycotting Oprah's show, and is calling for the cancellation of her magazine.

"Women in Florida helped build Oprah into the icon she is today," Linda Ivell, president of the Federation of Republican Women, told the Miami Herald. "We are deeply disappointed in Ms. Winfrey's decision to sit out the greatest political moment in the history of women since suffrage."

As one who's on top of breaking news and who courts dignitaries, Hollywood hotshots, and media celebs to her television couch, Oprah also disappointed Hillary Democrats when her couch wasn't opened to the former First Lady during her presidency bid.

"Why are we surprised? When she has built her career "talking" about the greatness of women she again shows her bias against other strong political women. She dissed Hillary Clinton over Obama. Maybe women will now see Oprah for whom she really is," a disgruntled fan on Oprah's website wrote.

When Oprah endorsed Obama it was the first time the media magnate got involved in politics. And Oprah's partisan big bucks threw a star-studded fundraiser for her presidential pick with 1,500 guests at her sold-out private soirée at $2,300 apiece. Oprah talked to United Press International about why she held the fundraiser at her home stating, "I call my home the Promised Land because I get to live Dr. King's Dream. I haven't been actively engaged before because there hasn't been anything to be actively engaged in. But I am engaged now to make Barack Obama the next president of the United States." She went on the campaign trail with Obama touting he's the "chosen one." Her appearances at Obama's rallies in Iowa and South Carolina helped Obama win those primaries.

But as Oprah tries to take America down her path in this presidential campaign, many of Oprah's loyal viewers, especially white women, see her endorsement of Obama and her off-limits policy of both Hillary and Palin to her show as a betrayal to them, many of whom see themselves as the backbone to Oprah's success.

"Initially, Oprah's success was the product of Affirmative Action and a WHITE audience. Don't kid yourself, BLACKS didn't 'make' Oprah. Now, gazillions of dollars later, her show has become nothing but a not too subtle political forum. Many of us are tired of hearing what Oprah thinks...her ratings prove that! The sun is starting to set on her little empire," wrote another disgruntled fan.

In May 2007 when Oprah announced she was endorsing Obama her ratings plummeted from 74 percent to 61 percent. Soon after her campaigning for Obama in Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire her ratings dropped further to 55 percent. And according to an AOL TV popularity that surveyed of 1.35 million Americans 46 percent said the daytime TV host who "made their day" was Ellen Degeneres, who has had Obama, Hillary and McCain on her show, while only 19 percent chose Oprah. Unfortunately, Oprah not inviting Hillary and McCain to her show turned many of these same viewers off to Obama.

Half of Oprah's staff wants Palin on the show, and Oprah's website is getting tons of requests for her.

"Please Oprah, interview Sarah Palin. Even though I'm voting for Obama. I want to know more about this historic woman and I think you could really get her to open up."

Palin is a media sensation just as Obama is. She draws crowds by the thousands with women carrying placards saying, "Read my lipstick, SP 4 VP." According to the recent Washington Post Poll, white women, an important demographic group in this election, now favor McCain 53 percent to Obama's 41 percent because of the "Palin Effect." And the "Palin Effect" has excited a portion of Oprah's viewership across party lines.

But Oprah's refusal to invite Palin for a chat on her TV couch will undoubtedly cost her the lost of few more viewers. And it might cost Obama a few more votes.

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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 10, 2008 9:38 AM

Oprah owns her show and can decide what she wants. She is probably also ready to retire and enjoy her success. Does she help or hurt Obama by not interviewing a beauty queen, moose hunter, mayor then governor who was for the bridge to nowhere until she was against it?

I believe that Obama will brush anything off his shoulders as usual. And those republican ladies in Florida would never be our audience anyway. It is going to be hard and dirty from here out.

thank you, interesting post.

I think there would be women who'd not vote for Obama anyway and Oprah isn't changing any of that. They're raising this huss fuss because they would have voted for mccain anyway and they're mad that Oprah took a side in this election.

the greatest political moment in the history of women since suffrage

And what's Geraldine Ferraro? Chopped liver?

I think Oprah made the right decision. She didn't interview Hillary - or Barack or any other candidates - once she endorsed Obama.

No matter what she said to Palin, the right would attempt to twist it into something partisan and nasty. In the end, that would end up hurting Obama; this only hurts Oprah slightly.

Why are we even discussing a non-issue that Matt drudge cooked up?

Oprah said in January 2007 she wasn't interviewing any politicians until the election was over and she's been consistent about that.

Let Palin go on Faux news.

I didn't realize that there's such a shortage of talk show hosts, credible television journalists, and non-traditional media outlets interested in speaking to Sarah Palin that being ignored by Oprah has derailed their last hope at getting some media attention on this moose-hunting mother.

I only wish that Oprah would interview Palin, but surprise her by bringing out Rachel Maddow and hitting her with real questions rather than fluffy feel-good stuff.

ohhhh, what a sad day in oprah land....whites did make you and if you keep spending your white earned money on racists like barack, then you will have to work like the rest of americans, even afer retirement.....i never liked her Palin said...i am not seeking the medias good word....she darn sure doesnt need oprah for anything....keep going oprah....bite the white hands that feed you.....

wow. That's a pretty racist comment, mike.

Thanks for reading Bilerico, and maybe you'll read another perspective that'll change your mind.

While negative comments from Republican political organizations don't suprise me at all, I did think Linda Ivell's statement smacked of delusions of grandeur.

"Women in Florida helped build Oprah into the icon she is today," Linda Ivell, president of the Federation of Republican Women, told the Miami Herald. "We are deeply disappointed in Ms. Winfrey's decision to sit out the greatest political moment in the history of women since suffrage."

Personally I had no idea that Florida had any bigger stake than any of the other fifty states in making Oprah's billion dollar industry the success it is today. To call for the cancellation of O magazine only makes them look more foolish. The core audience of Oprah's fan base are rabidly loyal viewers. (Don't look at me: I don't now and have never cared, "What's Oprah wearing today?")

As for a decline in ratings, I think Oprah can handle the loss of some viewers. While this margin may be bigger than most, her ratings have fluctuated in either direction often during the show's run. After the election, a new season, some big named interviews and the Oprah spin machine later, her ratings will increase again. Unless Oprah did something heinous, the fickle memories of America will easily forget what they didn't like. And the people who do support her will only be buoyed by her resolution to stand by her decision.

As to whether or not this will hurt Obama's chances for election, I'm somewhat dubious. She openly supports Obama. She's made her position on the matter of candidate interviews crystal clear. And we are, after all, talking about the woman who, in April of 1996, took on the beef industry and vastly affected the price of the beef commodities in the stock market. Whether it was an alarmist edition of the show or not, when Oprah talks, many people listen.

Yes, she had made mis steps while trying to bring to light controversial topics. I believe though, that most people recognise that Miss Winfrey does her level best to get the story right before it airs. Likewise she has admitted to mistakes openly.

If Obama and Biden can get Hilary, Bill, and Oprah campaigning with him, I strongly suspect that any stance O has taken with interviewing other candidates will be only a minor gaff and quickly forgotten.

I think Oprah, the folks in the Miss Black America pageant system, Tennessee State University, and the loyal African-American segment of her viewing audience would question your illogical assessment.

I believe that Oprah appeared far more times in JET, EBONY or ESSENCE magazine in the early days than she did TIME or Newsweek.

I was visiting Chicago for a funeral in August 1986 when my aunt Ruth told me, my uncle and my mom about a local talk show host that I absolutely had to watch. The show was AM Chicago and its host was none other than Ms. Winfrey.

The bottom line is that Caribou Barbie ain't getting any free airtime on Oprah so that you right-winger can exploit it for political purposes until after November 4.

Rev. Irene Monroe | September 11, 2008 4:03 PM

In the past Orphan have had presidential hopefuls on her show like Al Gore and George Bush during their 2000 bid. By having both candidates on her show Oprah not only appeared bipartisan but she was also catering to her audience that comprised of both Bush and Gore voters.

When Orphan endorsed Barack Obama I was excited to see her publicly take a stand politically, one she had never done before. And the historic nature of this presidential run, in my opinion, demanded one.

In sharing my elation about Oprah publicly endorsing Obama a couple of my friends, both white and black, stated that she further racialized Barack’s candidacy, especially in light of Obama presenting himself as a post-racial candidate. While I debated back and forth with my friends that it makes sense that she would endorse him irrespective of his color, but simply because he’s her hometown senator brining something fresh to the ticket. Many of my friends however felt so too was Hillary as the first female to run for this position on the Democratic ticket.

I penned this piece to stir up discussion concerning how much weight do TV celebs have in endorsing candidates? Do we put a lot on weight on Oprah not only because of her influence but also because both she and Obama are black and her endorsement conjures up fear in some folks like my neighbor who said, “Blacks are now taking over!.”

By Oprah closing off her TV couch to all the candidates once she publicly endorsed Obama, does white fear, anxiety and unease about Obama become a way to go after only black celebs, like Oprah, who endorse him?

Oprah and Palin should be able to choose for themselves who they like and dislike; but such a simple decision becomes complicated since they both hold such public and (like it or not) political positions