Now that Oprah Winfrey is once again off campaigning for Democrats, CBS on Thursday announced that the 60 Minutes contributor will be “stepping away” from her role at the network. At least for now. This arrangement between the channel and the talk show star is full of all sorts of conflicts.
On Thursday’s This Morning, Nancy Cordes reported on Winfrey’s decision to go and lobby for liberal Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. (Winfrey also famously campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008.) Cordes awkwardly explained how this impacts CBS: “We should note Oprah has been a part-time CBS News contributor for 60 Minutes, but she is stepping away from that role while she campaigns.”
So, after Winfrey is done campaigning for Democrats, she can come back to CBS and report on politics and the Democratic Party?
If Winfrey’s best friend, CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King, has her way, there will be more conflicts of interest in the future. Since February, King has been lobbying her to run for president in 2020 against Donald Trump.
Asked about it on the February 15, 2018 This Morning, King showed no conflict about her role as a journalist vs. her friendship with the liberal Oprah. Discussing whether she was lobbying Winfrey, King responded, “Yes, I have. My name is Gayle, G-A-Y-L-E. Yes, I have.”
On October 31, 2018, King told the New York Times she has a “fantasy of covering” Wifnrey’s presidential bid.
Of course, CBS has never seen a problem for King to support Democrats and then talk to politicians on This Morning. In 2012, she attended a fundraiser for Obama’s reelection. Who also was there? Winfrey.
Over the span of just three shows in June, CBS This Morning devoted a whopping 28 minutes and 44 seconds to promoting possible 2020 candidate Winfrey. The talk show host appeared on the June 5, June 7 and June 8, 2018 editions of the program.
On March 8,2018, King absurdly said she could be “impartial” on a Winfrey 2020 bid. On the same program, however, the CBS host pleaded for her friend to run: “But I also think you have a unique ability in terms of healing and connecting all people.”
CBS executives have a larger conflict of interest on their hands. It's one that involves Winfrey, King, and the network itself. And it can’t be solved simply by having Winfrey “step away” for a brief time.