I hate entertainment gossip shows. That said, sometimes I've got one on that is scheduled after the last early evening news show and prime time while cooking supper or whatever. So I still learn all about the latest.
But today, I got a chuckle.
Oprah and the White House are on the outs. Yep, Oprah feels used. She campaigned big time for Teh Won during the primaries to beat Hillary, and she also spent a lot of time on the road for him during the primary as well. It cost her, too.
More than a year and a half had passed since Oprah announced that she was throwing her support behind Barack Obama in his primary race against Hillary Clinton. The endorsement had represented a calculated risk for the queen of daytime television. It was one thing for her to recommend a book or launch the career of Dr. Phil, but it was quite another for her to back a political candidate
.As it turned out, a sizable chunk of her audience took offense and stopped watching her show. No sooner had Oprah hit the campaign trail, appearing beside Obama at one primary rally after another, than her personal favorability ratings began to slide, falling from 74 to 66 percent. Her unfavorable ratings suffered an even worse fate; they jumped from 17 to 26 percent.
Was the sacrifice worth it? As an entertainer and businesswoman, Oprah had suffered a setback. But she felt proud that she had been instrumental in electing the first black president of the United States, and she believed that she had earned a place in the president-elect’s brain trust. Two economists at the University of Maryland, College Park, estimated that Oprah’s endorsement netted Obama 1,015,559 votes and decided the primary election.
During the early weeks of the presidential transition, as Obama stitched together his new White House team, he appeared to embrace Oprah as one of his trusted advisers. When she phoned, he dropped everything and took her call. They huddled over strategy. Of all of Obama’s unofficial White House advisers, Oprah had unparalleled access, input, influence, and power.
However, by the time Oprah and Gayle landed in Washington a month after the election, Oprah’s relationship with the Obamas had come unglued.
OPRAH had tried to ignore the ominous change in tone coming from the Obama transition team. As Barack Obama’s inauguration drew near, Oprah’s calls to Michelle went unreturned
.Instead, Oprah heard from Max Doebler, the newly appointed White House ceremonies coordinator, who told Oprah that she needed to talk to him first about the interview. What’s more, Doebler said, Oprah had to run her interview questions past Jeff Stephens, a deputy speech writer, for prior approval.
“It was a pain as far as Oprah was concerned,” said a high-ranking executive of Harpo Studios, Oprah’s production company. “Oprah isn’t a snob, but she doesn’t like having to put up with mid-level clerks. These guys were $75,000-a-year men. Oprah was like, ‘Hello, what is this s–t!’
“But she did it; she went to Washington with Gayle and met with both Doebler and Stephens to hash out the details. I was surprised that she went there, hat in hand.
”It soon became apparent that something had gone wrong between Oprah and the new administration — or, more precisely, between Oprah and Michelle Obama.
The problem seemed to originate from two of Michelle’s advisers, Valerie Jarrett and Desirée Rogers, the new White House social secretary. They resented Oprah’s meddling in their bailiwick. Among other things, Oprah had a plan to redecorate the Lincoln bedroom. She also had ideas about how Michelle could put more zing into White House social events.
So, there has been a bit of a rift, but Dear Leader came calling when HE needed something:
Reports have surfaced that things aren’t well between the Obamas and Oprah Winfrey. So much so that when the White House reached out to Oprah for help in marketing Obamacare, she flat out refused and snubbed them by sending a low-level rep.
Apparently, Oprah is reeling from the realization that the Obamas were not interested in what they could do together but only what she could do for them. And that was throwing her name, star power, reputation and media machine behind the 2008 campaign to get elected. But since then, Oprah has gotten little from their quid pro quo deal.
Live and learn, I guess.
As the White House was gearing up to sell ObamaCare to the American people last summer, Valerie Jarrett, the president’s pointwoman on a host of issues, phoned Oprah Winfrey.
She invited the Queen of All Media to join celebrities, including Amy Poehler, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys, to meet with President Obama and discuss how they could generate publicity for his health-care law.
“All of Oprah’s top people thought she would go, because when the president invites you to the White House, most people automatically say yes,” said one of Oprah’s closest advisers. “But Oprah said she didn’t have the time or inclination to go. It wasn’t like she had to think it over. It was an immediate, flat-out, unequivocal no.”
Instead, Oprah sent a low-level rep from one of her talent agencies, which was regarded as a insult. Obama had been counting on Oprah’s immense persuasive powers to help enroll millions in ObamaCare. But as the rollout turned into a disaster, Oprah didn’t lift a finger to help.
The story of why Oprah has changed her tune and gone AWOL on ObamaCare goes well beyond mere gossip. It speaks volumes about the convergence of celebrity and politics under Obama and about a president who thinks nothing of using and then discarding his most loyal supporters.
Everyone remembers that Oprah went all out for Obama during the 2008 presidential election. What was not reported was that, in return, Oprah was promised unique access to the White House if Obama won. She’d get regular briefings on initiatives and a heads-up on programs to give her material for her fledgling cable network, OWN.
“Oprah intended to make her unique White House access a part of her new network,” a source close to Oprah told me. “There were big plans, and a team was put together to come up with proposals that would have been mutually beneficial.
“But none of that ever happened. Oprah sent notes and a rep to talk to Valerie Jarrett, but nothing came of it. It slowly dawned on Oprah that the Obamas had absolutely no intention of keeping their word and bringing her into their confidence.”
Oprah did not campaign for Obama in the 2012 race, and she has been absent from his battles on gun control, immigration reform and the environment. She claims she is too busy to get involved in politics, even though she hosted a fund-raiser for Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who won a US Senate seat last week.
Oprah’s friends publicly dismiss the idea that she had a falling out with Obama. They note that she phoned Michelle Obama right after the 2012 election to congratulate her. They say Michelle invited her to have dinner with the first family. But the dinner never took place, and Oprah continues to be frozen out.
“Oprah was hoping there would be a genuine change in the atmospherics,” one of her friends told me. “But there hasn’t been. Clearly, she is being rebuffed at the level of Michelle and Valerie. And, just as obviously, President Obama hasn’t interfered on Oprah’s behalf.
During Obama’s first term, I argued in my book “The Amateur” that Michelle was jealous of Oprah, furious that he was seeking her advice.
“For her part, Oprah doesn’t like being with Michelle, because the first lady is constantly one-upping the president and anybody else around her,” said an Oprah adviser.
“Oprah has struck back by banning the Obamas from her O, The Oprah Magazine . . . It probably hurts Oprah more than Obama, who, if he had his head screwed on straight, would have flown to California and begged Oprah to help him save ObamaCare.
“But Obama hasn’t budged, and neither has Oprah. She’s hurt and angry, and I seriously doubt that Oprah will ever make up with the Obamas. She knows how to hold a grudge.”
I've been less than impressed with Oprah ever since she and her show sensationalized the mad cow scare back in the nineties, and some Amarillo cattlemen sued her and eventually lost. Didn't matter - she only presented one side and it was definitely a scare mongering show shooting for high ratings. Truth? Did not matter.
Now perhaps she's learned a lesson. Still a liberal useful idiot. Still jump right into the middle of politics, where as an entertainer, she does not belong (she apparently hasn't learned that particular lesson, even after tanking in the ratings).
But maybe she'll judge character a little more carefully, and just because a high ranking or possibly a high ranking politician is a brother won't be enough.
Or not. She can go ahead and get burned again, for all I really care.