Appearing on CNN Newsroom Monday morning, Brian Stelter seemed excited about the prospect of an Oprah Winfrey presidency. Stelter praised Winfrey's moderation of a focus group on 60 Minutes, saying she was "trying to find a sense of unity in the country." Stelter contrasted Winfrey with President Trump, saying "It’s interesting she’s doing that given that a lot of people think Trump is doing the opposite, being very divisive."
The left started salivating at the idea of an Oprah presidency after watching her speech at the Golden Globes earlier this year. Many liberals believe that in order to take down Trump, they have to put forward a bigger celebrity rather than another run-of-the-mill politician. They apparently did not consider the fact that the Bernie Sanders crowd, who have an animus against rich people, might not like the idea of two billionaires running against each other.
The Oprah 2020 buzz had died down a little bit until last night when President Trump reacted to her 60 Minutes piece on Twitter, saying “Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes. The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others.”
Anchor John Berman opened the segment with Stelter by mocking the President for tweeting about Oprah when he “has his hands full of Russian indictments, a potential guilty plea from his former campaign aide, and the tragic school shooting in Florida.” He also issued a bit of a Freudian slip, asking Stelter if he had heard anything from the “Winfrey campaign.” Stelter also pointed out that Trump had floated the idea of having Oprah as his Vice President back when he briefly flirted with a run for the White House in 2000.
While Oprah has repeatedly said she has no plans to seek the highest office in the land, the CNN panel had not given up hope. Stelter pointed out that the official statement from her spokeswoman saying “there are no plans in the works for Oprah to run” is in the present tense, which indicates that she may change her mind in the future.
With the 2020 presidential election nearly 1,000 days away, the media will continue to fantasize about the end of the Trump presidency; whether that comes in the form of impeachment and subsequent removal from office or defeat for re-election. A successful re-election bid by President Trump would certainly come as the media’s worst nightmare.
JOHN BERMAN: So President Trump has his hands full of Russian indictments, a potential guilty plea from his former campaign aide, and the tragic school shooting in Florida. So naturally, he’s talking about Oprah. This is what he wrote overnight. “Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes. The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others.” Now, Winfrey was holding a televised round table of 14 voters, half of whom voted for President Trump. The conversation covered everything from politics to policy and the President himself. I’m joined now by CNN’s senior media correspondent, host of Reliable Sources Brian Stelter. Brian, any reaction from the Winfrey campaign?
BRIAN STELTER: No, nothing yet. It’s funny you said campaign though. She’s been trying to downplay the idea of running for President but her friends, her business associates are still urging her to run. And last week, a few of her confidants said to me “Look, she’s not ruling it out altogether.” Yes, she is out there saying she’s not running, just like lots of other prospective candidates. She says she’s not running but the fact that President Trump is talking about her just continues this buzz, continues this interest, I think, in the possibility of a Winfrey campaign. Why don’t we look at the actual focus group? This is part of what she was doing on CBS last night.
OPRAH WINFREY: When we first met, there were some of you who had said, you know, you’d never been in conversations, certainly engagement, with members of the opposite side, political side. So has that changed for you now?
FOCUS GROUP MEMBER: Yes because now I’m looking at them as people, not as “you’re Trump” or “not Trump.” This has been an incredible experience and an education for me.
STELTER: So that’s exactly what Winfrey’s trying to do over at 60 Minutes. You know, she got this job at CBS, it’s a part time job, she’s trying to do pieces about issues dividing the country and she’s trying to find common ground, she’s trying to find a sense of unity in the country. It’s interesting she’s doing that given that a lot of people think Trump is doing the opposite, being very divisive. Anyway, I think the tweet from the President’s really notable, John, because in the past, Trump has praised Oprah, said he loves Oprah. He even talked about running for President with her someday; suggesting she could be the VP. Now for the first time, he’s really breaking with her and insulting her.
BERMAN: One notable thing that you just pointed out to me, Brian. So this was discussed, the back and forth between Oprah and President Trump was discussed on the various broadcast morning shows. But not CBS with her friend Gayle King?
STELTER: Yeah. The only one that didn’t mention the tweet this morning was CBS This Morning. That’s the show co-hosted by Winfrey’s best friend, Gayle King. What has King said recently about all this Oprah 2020 talk? She says “I remember what Oprah taught me a long time ago. She said, you always have the right to change your mind.” So, I think someone like Gayle King, privately, has been urging her friend Winfrey to think about running. Certainly, some of her other confidants have as well. The official word, though, from her spokeswoman last week, notice the word, the language here, she said there are no plans in the works for Oprah to run. Present tense. Doesn’t rule something out in the future.
BERMAN: That’s right. I’m not planning on having a sandwich for lunch but I may decide to have a sandwich come lunch time.
STELTER: Right. And by the way, a dozen people are doing this. Right? We are so far away from 2020.
BERMAN: You know, she may not run, she is not running right now. She probably won’t but the fact of the matter is she is not ruling it out completely as we sit here.
STELTER: President Trump wants her to. Go figure.
BERMAN: We shall see. Brian Stelter, thank you for being here and reflecting with us on this President’s Day.