During Thursday’s edition of Deadline: White House, host Nicolle Wallace and her panel devoted almost an entire segment to praising the “powerful” and “persuasive” Oprah Winfrey. Wallace went on to talk about “the Oprah effect happening right in front of us as the TV superstar knocked on doors stumping for Stacey Abrams, the Democrat running for Governor there.” Wallace urged her audience to “listen to what Oprah told the crowd at a campaign event this afternoon and judge for yourself the potential impact this rare, coveted endorsement will have.”
MoveOn.org’s Karine Jean-Pierre invoked a comparison to the last time Winfrey made a high-profile political endorsement: “And it reminds me of 2007, in December, when Oprah endorsed Obama and did that awesome event for Obama in South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, where 30,000 people showed up. It made a difference.” According to Jean-Pierre, Obama’s victory in the 2008 Democratic Presidential primaries shows “just how unmatched Oprah is.”
Another panelist, former Time magazine editor and Obama official Rick Stengel, contrasted Winfrey with President Trump by arguing that he “represents everything opposite of what she was talking about today. All of those virtues that I think make us American.” Jean-Pierre highlighted “the stark difference” between Winfrey, who “reaches for the heart,” and President Trump, who she claimed is “fearmongering.”
A discussion ensued about how black women were the “only demographic that never fell for Trump,” with Jean-Pierre saying that black women opposed President Trump because he reminded them of a Civil Rights-era villain: “They saw him and they were like, this guy is too familiar. I remember this guy, you know, when I was marching or when Dr. King was fighting for civil rights. Oh no, this is too scary. I don't want to go back.”
Wallace predicted that “black women are going to dig us out of the hole Trump put us in” before discussing how her former co-host on The View, Whoopi Goldberg, predicted that President Trump would win the election at a time when “he was talking about not letting people fighting Ebola back into the country.”
Wallace described then-candidate Trump’s idea as “xenophobia, the Ebola chapter,” describing it as “one of the most underreported and underremembered chapters of Donald Trump’s xenophobia and his fear of the other and his sort of hostility to the good works that people do when they leave this country.”
Considering the fact that the Presidential campaign of their previous “chosen one,” Michael Avenatti, has already crashed and burned before it even officially began, it’s understandable that the Trump-hating media would want to latch onto another celebrity as their new savior; even though she has already said she has no interest in running for office. Perhaps for dramatic effect, Wallace could have brought on Chris Matthews and asked if he had a thrill up his leg when he watched Winfrey speak. It’s safe to say everyone else in the media did.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Thursday’s Deadline: White House is below. Click “expand” to read more.
Deadline: White House
NICOLLE WALLACE: Until you see her like she was today, you might have forgotten just how powerful, just how persuasive Oprah Winfrey really is. Today in Georgia, we got a reminder. The Oprah effect happening right in front of us as the TV superstar knocked on doors stumping for Stacey Abrams, the Democrat running for Governor there. Listen to what Oprah told the crowd at a campaign event this afternoon and judge for yourself the potential impact this rare, coveted endorsement will have.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY: You all are on the precipice, on the very precipice of a historical and historical election. Nobody paid for me to come here. Nobody even asked me to come here. I paid for myself, and I approve this message. So I’m here today because Stacey Abrams cares about the things that matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: So Oprah, Oprah, who doesn’t love Oprah? But here’s a more important point, Stacey Abrams did this right.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Yes.
WALLACE: Democrats have struggled with how to deploy celebrities. And Oprah isn’t there in a fancy, you know, get up, you know, doing a concert. She is speaking from the heart to the crowd. And you can see her connecting.
JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. I agree with you 100 percent. They are in Marietta, Georgia, outside of Atlanta, in the suburbs of Atlanta, where it’s, I think it’s like, trying to remember, 50 percent white, 30 percent African-American, 20 percent Latinos. And it is…it is, it is her coalition. This is the group that’s supposed to come out for Stacey Abrams. It’s really brilliant.
WALLACE: It’s also the Obama coalition.
JEAN-PIERRE: And it reminds me of 2007, in December, when Oprah endorsed Obama and did that awesome event for Obama in South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, where 30,000 people showed up. It made a difference. He won South Carolina by 20 points more than Hillary Clinton did. Of course, he won Iowa and then lost in New Hampshire. But it is…it just shows how unmatched Oprah is.
DONNY DEUTSCH: She’s not a celebrity. The difference is…
JEAN-PIERRE: She’s not. She’s unmatched.
DEUTSCH: Then you go oh, it’s Hollywood. She’s a woman who was sexually abused who has just grown up with the American women over the last 30 or 40 years.
WALLACE: All women.
DEUTSCH: Yes, American women, women…other than Muhammad Ali, there are certain people that, they’re not just celebrities. They’re icons. They stand in a different place. So please, every other celebrity, stay home. I really mean that. I don’t mean that glibly. She’s in a very different space and, man, if you can’t be moved by her…
WALLACE: Let me, the person that got fired…
RICK STENGEL: The most powerful thing that she did which you don’t have is she said, she is talking to people that she said think about the people who bled for you, who died for you, who campaigned for you.
WALLACE: I want to play that. I’m going to play that. Do we have that?
STENGEL: That was the most powerful thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY: Around my mid-20s, around my mid-20s, I had the, had the privilege of hearing reverend Otis Moss Jr., who is a preacher. You all know him? Preacher, preacher in Cleveland, Ohio. And I heard him tell the story of his father, of Otis Moss Sr., who, right here in Georgia’s Troup County got up in the morning and put on his only suit and his best tie. And he walked six miles to the voting poll location he was told to go to in LaGrange. And when he got there after walking six miles in his good suit and tie, they said, boy, you at the wrong place. You at the wrong place. You need to go over to Mountville. So he walked another six miles to Mountville and when he got there, they said, boy, you at the wrong place. You need to go to the Rosemont School. And I picture him walking from dawn to dusk in his suit, his feet tired, getting to the Rosemont School and they say, boy, you too late. The polls are closed. And he never had a chance to vote. By the time the next election came around, he had died. So when I go to the polls and I cast my ballot, I cast it for a man I never knew. I cast it for Otis Moss Sr., who walked 18 miles one day just for the chance to vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: I think that’s what you were getting at?
STENGEL: But it’s also, she also talked about, remember you’re voting for the little girls who sat at the lunch counter in Mississippi. You’re voting for the people who were on the bus. You’re voting for the people who marched across the Edmund Pettis Bridge. And she’s putting a little bit of guilt on them because they suffered for that, they died for that and all you have to do is walk around the corner. It’s not even like the old man she was talking about there. You can even vote by mail early on. So people really do need to take advantage of the franchise which people died for to give them.
WALLACE: Let me, let me get you to go somewhere you don’t often go here. I mean, she’s also speaking to our emotions, to our guilt as a country for letting it get to this point, isn’t she? I mean, I hear that as a mother of a son who wants a better world and Oprah inspires me the same way she did on her TV show, the same way she did with her book selections. Oprah’s brand is about tapping into our emotions and making us want to do better and be better.
STENGEL: But part of the emotion is, and this may not be a nice thing to say is the fear of Donald Trump and the fear of everything that he represents. I mean, because he represents everything opposite of what she was talking about today. All of those virtues that I think make us American that people suffered for to do those things. That’s what people are afraid of too.
DEUTSCH: And there are a lot of people…It’s interesting, one of your earlier guests said the passion is on the Republican side. Absolutely not. It’s not. That’s…I’m hearing it from voters, people talking. That they need to get out and defend the country. This is about defending who we are at this point. This is not about the other guys are like, don’t let the immigrants in. The people on this side are like, we have to defend who we are.
WALLACE: We’re going to keep going. I just wanted to show you, Oprah started talking at a second event; a lot of the same points she had. She’s in another, she’s in Decatur, Georgia now, still stumping for Stacey Abrams. I want to bring this back to Stacey Abrams because that’s what Oprah keeps doing and I really think and I want to defend celebrities a little bit. I think there is a way for other celebrities to go to the state. Just keep, leave the cameras. Don’t tell the cameras…Knock on the doors. Don’t tell anyone who you are but you can go door to door. I think, I think the…and how do Republicans…there’s never been a celebrity to deploy for anybody I ever worked for so what do I know?
DEUTCH: Scott Baio.
WALLACE: Is he for us?
DEUTCH: He’s for Trump.
WALLACE: I was a pre-Trump, pre-celebrity Republican. But there is something for people to do, to change the behavior. I mean, you are right. Voting, we talk about voting. Voting is a behavior that is easier than going to the gym and fewer people do it.
JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, and that’s exactly right. And look, she’s a great storyteller. Right? You heard the people reacting. They were like, wow, oh. And she was…and that’s what she does. She reaches for the heart and she tells that story. And we have to remember what’s happening right now. This is get out the vote. And that’s the stark, the stark difference, between what Donald Trump is doing, which is fear mongering and what Democrats are doing which is exciting the base, reminding them what is at stake and you must go and vote.
WALLACE: Can we talk about the importance of black women in the time of Trump, though? They are the only demographic that never fell for Trump. Even more than black men, even more than white single women, I mean, white single women, I think, voted for Trump in higher numbers than all black women. Black women had Trump’s number. Black women are the ones that are going to dig us out of the hole Trump put us in.
JEAN-PIERRE: They snuffed out the BS, right? They were like, oh, no. We know exactly who this guy is. We have seen it. We have…and not to laugh about this, but during 2015 and 2016, Trump showed a lot of women, especially black women who have been around for a long time and were, was there for the Civil Rights movement. And they saw him and they were like, this guy is too familiar. I remember this guy, you know, when I was marching or when Dr. Martin Luther King was fighting for civil rights. And they would tell me that. This like, “oh, no, this is too scary. I don’t want to go back.” And they came out and they voted.
WALLACE: I think black women also, and I worked on The View with Whoopi Goldberg in 2015. And Whoopi said, on The View, she was the first person that my ears ever heard say, and it broke my ears, he’s going to be your next President, folks. She also knew, I think, something about white voters; that they would respond. Because in 2015, “he was talking about not letting people fighting Ebola back into the country,” it was xenophobia, the Ebola chapter. And it’s one of the most underreported and underremembered chapters of Donald Trump’s xenophobia and his fear of the other and his sort of hostility to the good works that people do when they leave this country. But she also predicted how white Americans would respond to him.