Apparently, Oprah Winfrey regrets launching OWN, her TV network. Appearing on “CBS This Morning,” Winfrey said, “The idea of creating a network was something that I wanted to do. Had I known that it was this difficult, I might have done something else.”
The network is struggling; Rosie O’Donnell’s show was canceled and 30 employees have been fired. Just as importantly, Winfrey said she is so busy she won’t be “out there” working for President Obama’s reelection.
The two statements might very well be connected. When Oprah first campaigned for then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008, it was in the face of what many women considered the history-making candidacy of Hillary Clinton, who was on her way to becoming the first woman nominated by a major party for president and possibly the presidency itself.
As a result, there was a backlash against the talk show titan that many believe affected her ratings. Now, with her media empire known as OWN on life support, Oprah might have decided that publicly backing a unpopular and divisive president might not be the best move for her struggling network.
Yet Winfrey still doesn’t get it. She thinks that her perspective rather than her personality is what really draws viewers: “I said from the beginning, this channel can’t be based on me. It has to be based on my philosophy and ideas.”
She couldn’t be more wrong. What are Winfrey’s “philosophy and ideas”? On Oprah’s “Next Chapter,” her own show, Winfrey interviewed Shaquan Duley, the mother who suffocated her two small children and then tried to cover it up by claiming it was a car accident. Why did Winfrey do it? “For me, I am always looking for, and have been since I was, you know, a young reporter in Baltimore, I’ve always been trying to look for what is the deeper meaning in every story,” she said.
She fired her cousin, Jo Baldwin, who had been hired as her speechwriter, allegedly because Baldwin, a tenured professor at Mississippi Valley State and also an ordained minister, spent too much time talking about Jesus. So much for diversity of opinion.
The problem for Oprah is her central philosophy. After Winfrey endorsed Obama in 2007, her favorability rating dropped from 74% to 55%. No wonder she’s now shying away from political involvement in 2012.