Oprah Refuses To Interview Sarah Palin

When I saw this headline at the Drudge Report, I thought it had to be a mistake:


Are you kidding me? The strongest and most popular voice for women in this country is refusing to interview the first woman nominated to be vice president in 24 years?


According to ABCNews.com, in an article stunningly titled, "Is Oprah Biased? Host Won't Interview Palin," such appears to be the case (photo courtesy Getty Images/AP): 

Responding to media reports first publicized on Matt Drudge's "The Drudge Report" claiming that there was turmoil at Winfrey's Harpo Studios as to whether to book the GOP vice presidential nominee on the popular talk show, Winfrey's camp said that while she has nothing against Palin, the veep hopeful won't appear on the show anytime soon.

"The item in today's 'Drudge Report' is categorically untrue," Winfrey said in a written statement provided to ABCNews.com. "There has been absolutely no discussion about having Sarah Palin on my show."

"At the beginning of the 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," wrote Winfrey.

"I agree that Sarah Palin would be a fantastic interview, and I would love to have her on after the campaign is over," she added.

I made the decision not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates. Is she kidding?

She's done multiple events for Barack Obama since announcing her support in late 2007, which apparently has cost her some popularity with her fans. All because he hasn't been on her program since then, does she actually believe that she's not using her show nee fame as a platform?

Winfrey certainly used her show as a platform to bash George W. Bush weeks before the 2006 midterm elections when she invited on the New York Times columnist Frank Rich to discuss his hit book about the president.

Beyond this, in September 2000, Oprah invited both Al Gore and Bush on her program to discuss their campaigns. As such, it's a tad late for Winfrey to hide behind the fallacy that her sofa is apolitical.

With this in mind, as the ABC.com piece stated, Winfrey is taking a risk of looking absurdly biased and hypocritical by refusing to interview Palin especially as her audience is dominated by women:

"Whether you agree with Sarah Palin and her positions or not, the fact that she's the first female Republican vice presidential candidate is historical," said Joanne Bamberger, who runs the blog Punditmom1.blogspot.com.

"I'd have to imagine her audience would really want to see Palin," said Bamberger, who said that she is voting Democratic but still would love to see Palin interviewed by Winfrey. "It seems to me that Winfrey's show is all about empowering women."

By not having Palin on her show, Grossman-Green says that Winfrey is actually doing a disservice to her predominantly female audience, many of whom look for inspiration in the guests who appear on the show.

"She's doing an injustice to women by not having Palin on," said Grossman-Green. "Palin is a wonderful role model of what we're all trying to do as working women which is everything."

Newsday's Verne Gay offered five reasons today why Oprah should do this interview regardless of her support for Obama:

1.) To talk about motherhood, her family and Bristol; if you're really hung up on politics, O, then this doesn't have to be a "political" debriefing at all, per se, but a larger look at even more important issues, which your show claims to care about.

2.) It'd get a huge number. Hell yeah! Perhaps one of the biggest numbers in "O" history. This is a mercenary business, O, in case you've forgotten.

3.) It'd get the show back to that sweet spot of "relevance" and "news-worthiness." Wonderful to have all 150-or-so Olympians on Monday's season premiere, but the Olympics are old news; Palin is fresh news.

4.) Of course, it's O's right to support Obama in whatever forum she chooses, but she's simply too transcendent - her word - a cultural figure to pretend she's lil' ol' objective and non-political Oprah on her show, and yet Obama's most important supporter in the WORLD when she's not on screen. That's a silly artifice, transparent to all. Why not get Palin on and say, "OK, lady, I happen to think this guy walks on water. Now you tell me why he doesn't, and let's go at this." That would be great TV, and far better than a dreary debate between Palin and Joe Biden.

5.) O helped secure at least a million addition votes for Obama but probably lost hundreds of thousands of McCain supporter-viewers - if not more - to her show in the process. Here's her chance to say to everyone, "I have a right to support whomever I choose, and now to prove to you just how open-minded I am, here's the gun-toting mama from Alaska on the show."

Those are all well and good, but let me offer another: if she doesn't, she runs the risk of appearing racist to her adoring fans, or at the very least so in the tank for Obama that she would put his interests ahead of helping to eliminate that glass ceiling so many of her viewers believe exists.

Let's speak plainly here: the idea that arguably the most powerful woman in America, and certainly the most powerful in Hollywood, would refuse to interview the first woman in history with a legitimate chance of becoming vice president is disgraceful. 

After all, in 1984, Walter Mondale never had a chance of beating Ronald Reagan, thereby making Geraldine Ferraro's nomination more figurative and historic than anything else.

By contrast, this race is all tied up with two months to go making Palin closer to the office than any woman in history. For Winfrey to avoid giving her audience an opportunity to meet this woman up close and personal is the height of bias as well as stupidity.

Of course, none of this might be important to Oprah, for what former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich told NewsBusters Wednesday might really be the reason for this abysmal decision:

I think that it is totally appropriate that the left-wing media is doing everything to smear and destroy her because they correctly understand that if she's still standing after six weeks from now that she has delegitimized the entire left's ability to define what a successful, competent, professional woman is. If you can be a mother of five, an articulate, intelligent, professional woman who's also an NRA life member, who's pro-Life and who's conservative, you suddenly break up two generations of investment by the left in being the legitimizers of feminism. So, I think no one on the right should underestimate the level of threat she poses to the elite media, and therefore, the level of frenzy you're going to get.

Whatever the reason, we can only hope that if Winfrey sticks to this decision, women around the country will see it as a huge betrayal. Furthermore, if McCain wins, Palin should return the favor, and refuse to ever sit on Oprah's couch.

Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential ABCNews.com Sarah Palin
Noel Sheppard's picture

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