by Maureen Callahan
Have we learned nothing?
One speech at the Golden Globes — admittedly a barn-burner — and here comes the drumbeat for a billionaire celebrity with no governing experience to run for president.
“I’m on the bus with Oprah,” Jimmy Kimmel said.
“I want her to run for president,” said Meryl Streep.
“She’s running,” tweeted former “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr. “A new day is on the way.”
Even a major network endorsed her. “Nothing but respect for OUR future president,” read a tweet on NBC’s verified account (since deleted).
Oprah, who until Sunday night insisted she would never run for president — “I will never run for public office,” she told The Hollywood Reporter in October — is apparently having second thoughts.
“It’s up to the people,’” her partner, Stedman Graham, told the LA Times. “She would absolutely do it.”
She should absolutely not.
Yes, Winfrey is a singular presence in the culture. She is entirely self-made and a decades-long mover in television, film, publishing and philanthropy. As of 2017, she was one of only two women on Forbes’s Black Female Billionaires list. There is much to admire.
But none of this makes her fit to be leader of the free world. And just because the precedent has been set with Donald Trump — to horrible effect — doesn’t mean the Democrats should run a charismatic celebrity with zero credentials. Not Tom Hanks, not The Rock, not Oprah Winfrey.
If this sobering year has taught us anything, it’s that experience, intellect and stability, while hardly electrifying, should matter. A run for the White House should never again resemble a reality show. If the Democrats want to run as the adults in the room, they should lose their starstruck notions of President Oprah — who, through decades of public life, has revealed a startling level of gullibility and greed.
On her eponymous daytime talk show — which ran from 1986 to 2011 — Winfrey routinely endorsed fake science and spiritual hucksters. She cast herself as America’s foremost secular deity and seems to still believe it. Logic and reason don’t guide Oprah Winfrey; feelings and money do.
In 2006, Winfrey endorsed one of the most anti-intellectual products of the decade: a book and video called “The Secret,” which promises that anyone can have anything they want as long as they visualize it. Conversely, if tragedy or poverty befall you, it’s your fault. “The Secret” went on to sell 20 million copies internationally.
“I’m thrilled for the success of ‘The Secret,’ ” Winfrey told Larry King in 2007. “I think that the message needs to go further . . . it is very true that the way you think creates reality for yourself.”
That same year, a woman named Kim Tinkham appeared on Winfrey’s show. She had been diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer but had seen the episode touting “The Secret,” and decided to forgo chemo in favor of positive thinking. While Winfrey encouraged her to consider Western medicine as well, Tinkham declined.
She died in 2010.
Winfrey also gave a platform to Jenny McCarthy, the former Playboy Playmate-turned-vocal anti-vaxxer. In her 2007 appearance, McCarthy claimed that her then-toddler son’s autism was caused by a measles, mumps and rubella vaccination — a wholly unproved and unscientific assertion, one Winfrey largely ceded to her guest.
“My science is named Evan, and he’s at home,” McCarthy said. “That’s my science.”
That’s actually the opposite of science — it’s an anecdotal assumption — but Winfrey left that statement unchallenged, making McCarthy a regular guest and signing her to a talk show deal.
SOURCE: New York Post