NBC Hails ‘Rising Political Star’ Beto O’Rourke Getting Oprah Boost

On Wednesday, NBC’s Today show devoted a full report to failed Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke being treated to a fawning sit-down with media mogul and Democratic Party booster Oprah Winfrey Tuesday night. Excited by Winfrey “bringing together the worlds of Hollywood and politics” during her SuperSoul Conversations forum in New York, the network broadcast touted O’Rourke as the “new Obama” and hyped his potential 2020 presidential run.

“And despite big-name stars like Bradley Cooper and Michael B. Jordan, it’s her conversation with rising political star Beto O’Rourke that’s generating all this buzz,” correspondent Morgan Radford gushed as she described the event. The reporter celebrated Winfrey “doing what she does best, getting people to open up.”

 

 

Focusing on the friendly interview with O’Rourke, Radford noted the former talk show host turned partisan activist “Asking the Democratic star about his political ambitions, amid speculation that he might run for president in 2020.” A clip followed of Winfrey pleading with the former Congressman to announce his political plans: “Okay, by God, when are you gonna know the answer? When are you gonna know? Have you given yourself a deadline?”

Radford fondly recalled how O’Rourke “made national headlines when he nearly unseated Republican Senator Ted Cruz in a contentious 2018 midterm race in deep-red Texas.” She further proclaimed: “His record-breaking fundraising and grassroots support leading some to call him the new Obama.”

The correspondent the reminded viewers: “It was, of course, with the old Obama that Oprah first wielded her own political power, endorsing the former president during his 2008 campaign. Since then, Oprah has repeatedly shut down any speculation that she would run for office in 2020.”

Following the taped report, co-host Craig Melvin dared to point out the obvious: “Going back to Beto O’Rourke though, you know, here’s a guy – I mean, he lost the race in Texas.” Radford was taken aback and seemed almost offended that the morning show anchor would mention such a thing after she spent minutes calling O’Rourke a “political star,” uttering: “Okay now, Craig – ” Melvin continued: “He lost. But did he say anything last night about, you know, what he might have learned from that experience that would help him if he decides to run for president?”

Radford rushed to O’Rourke’s defense:

And he did lose, but what was interesting is that he talked about how that same authenticity you were just describing really helped him. Because that’s something that we confirmed, we were on the trail following these politicians during the midterms. Almost everyone we spoke to on both sides of the aisle said, “Look, we want a candidate who is outside of the establishment political paradigm. We want someone new, we want someone fresh, and we want someone who is going to shake things up, you know, different from politics as usual.”

How a white man of Irish descent inexplicably using an Hispanic nickname instead of his actual first name – which is Robert, by the way – can be praised for his “authenticity” by a supposed journalist is quite puzzling.

In addition to NBC’s full report on the O’Rourke-Oprah interview, CBS This Morning also offered a news brief on the exchange, with co-host Norah O’Donnell announcing: “O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, narrowly lost a Senate contest last year against Ted Cruz. And he sat down with Oprah Winfrey yesterday and said the decision to run was up to him and his family.”

Fellow co-host and Winfrey friend Gayle King, who attended the event, chimed in: “Yeah, that was a great conversation.” Treating King as the director of programming for Winfrey’s OWN network, O’Donnell asked: “When does that conversation air?” King replied: “That conversation airs February 16th....Of course on OWN, thank you, Norah. On OWN and on her Facebook page show.” She further pitched: “I have no inside information, but I’m thinking he’s running. The crowd was very excited to see him yesterday. It was a great conversation. Highly recommend you watch it.”

Here are excerpts of the February 6 Today show segment:

7:44 AM ET

CRAIG MELVIN: We’re back on this Wednesday morning, 7:44, with In-Depth Today. Oprah Winfrey bringing together the worlds of Hollywood and politics at a big event last night.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: That’s right, NBC’s Morgan Radford is here with what happened, about last night.

MORGAN RADFORD: About last night. That’s right, they blended these worlds during her SuperSoul Conversation right here in New York. And despite big-name stars like Bradley Cooper and Michael B. Jordan, it’s her conversation with rising political star Beto O’Rourke that’s generating all this buzz.

This morning, Oprah Winfrey doing what she does best, getting people to open up. From politics...

BETO O’ROURKE: There was something that was new and maybe even dangerous or different about the way that we ran this campaign.

RADFORD: ...to passion projects.

BRADLEY COOPER: So her best advice to me about singing was just try not to sing.

RADFORD: The media mogul first sitting down with former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke Tuesday night for her SuperSoul Conversations from Times Square event.

O’ROURKE [DURING TEXAS SENATE CAMPAIGN]: We don’t need walls!

RADFORD: Asking the Democratic star about his political ambitions, amid speculation that he might run for president in 2020.

O’ROURKE: If I can play some role in helping the country to do that, by God, I’m gonna do it.

OPRAH WINFREY: Okay, by God, when are you gonna know the answer? [Cheers and applause] When are you gonna know? Have you given yourself a deadline? I’m serious about that, have you given yourself a –  

O’ROURKE: And the serious answer is really soon, is really soon. Before the end of this month – someone’s asking for right now.

O’ROURKE [DURING TEXAS SENATE CAMPAIGN]: You all are the answer!

RADFORD: O’Rourke made national headlines when he nearly unseated Republican Senator Ted Cruz in a contentious 2018 midterm race in deep-red Texas. His record-breaking fundraising and grassroots support leading some to call him the new Obama.

It was, of course, with the old Obama that Oprah first wielded her own political power, endorsing the former president during his 2008 campaign. Since then, Oprah has repeatedly shut down any speculation that she would run for office in 2020. O’Rourke turning the tables on Tuesday.

O’ROURKE: I’m sure many people here would like to know the answer from you. Is this something you would consider doing? Would you consider serving? [Cheers]

WINFREY: But the reason – the reason I respect your process is because I do firmly believe it’s something you’ve got to feel inside of yourself.

O’ROURKE: Absolutely.

WINFREY: And you’ve got to come to a knowing inside yourself.

(...)

CRAIG MELVIN: Going back to Beto O’Rourke though, you know, here’s a guy – I mean, he lost the race in Texas.

RADFORD: Okay now, Craig –  

MELVIN: He lost. But did he say anything last night about, you know, what he might have learned from that experience that would help him if he decides to run for president?

RADFORD: He did. And he did lose, but what was interesting is that he talked about how that same authenticity you were just describing really helped him. Because that’s something that we confirmed, we were on the trail following these politicians during the midterms. Almost everyone we spoke to on both sides of the aisle said, “Look, we want a candidate who is outside of the establishment political paradigm. We want someone new, we want someone fresh, and we want someone who is going to shake things up, you know, different from politics as usual.”

GUTHRIE: I think he raised more money than any Senate candidate in history.

MELVIN: He did, he did.

GUTHRIE: So we’ll see what happens.

RADFORD: 2020.

GUTHRIE: Thank you Morgan.

NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Liberals & Democrats CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Video Morgan Radford Beto O'Rourke

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