October 21 2013
O–No: Oprah & Obamas on the Outs
Patrice J. Lee
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.
The New York Post covers the story:
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.
We’ll leave aside how much of this is speculation versus truth, but Oprah’s lack of zeal during the 2012 campaign and noted absence at the second inauguration gives one pause. If you remember back in 2008 Oprah was on the campaign trail from Iowa to New Hampshire and was joined at the hip to the Obamas during the first inauguration going from balls to private White House after parties.
You’ve been under a rock if you haven’t heard that this estrangement is due to issues between Oprah and Michelle –or rather Michelle against Oprah. There are something interesting accounts about how Michelle froze Oprah out of their inner circles, but the point is that one the President’s strongest get out the vote strategies—supposedly netting him a million votes—has now banned him and his wife from the pages of her magazine and doesn’t take their calls.
This salacious situation does raise a critical point or two.
First, it’s not that Oprah is against ObamaCare as some headlines lead us to believe. Oprah has been silent on the White House’s efforts on immigration and gun control. It’s that Oprah has read the writing on the wall and said “I’m not having it!” to being used any longer. Even if that is to advance an agenda she agrees with. To be clear, Oprah is not innocent in all of this. She planned to use the White House for her own purposes and has not gotten the access she wanted.
Second, and more important, this is what happens when the White House gets too cozy with Hollywood and celebrities. Frankly, it’s no different from when politicians grant access to specific businesses and industries because they stuffed the campaign coffers with cash.
The Obamas have paraded probably hundreds of musicians, actors and sports figures through the White House for their own pleasure. They’ve also used celebs to raise campaign funds and boost their popularity. Yet, the press has not raised an iota of concern over this cozy relationship. Perhaps reporters don’t want to lose their access to the next Jonas Brothers’s performance for the Obama girls. And that’s probably the most these celebs are getting out this relationship anyway, a private tour of the White House.
Now, the White House is turning to some of these celebs to peddle its social agenda including ObamaCare. For one celeb the novelty of Barack Obama has worn off and she’s wised up to the White House’s strategy. Kudos to Oprah.