With hardly any scrutiny or skepticism, the mainstream media allowed one of the most powerful persons in the world to attack a powerless sales clerk as a racist. And now that this anonymous sales clerk has branded Oprah Winfrey a liar, the billionaire media mogul is trying to make it all go away with a non-apology apology.
While promoting her new film, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” Winfrey relayed an anecdote about being a victim of racism to Entertainment Tonight. “I say to the woman, ‘Excuse me, may I see that bag right above your head?’ And she says to me, ‘No, it’s too expensive.’ … She refused to get it.”
Those are Oprah’s exact words — all told within the context of racism still being a very real problem for black people throughout the world.
During the interview, though, Oprah also refused — and this will be important later — to identify the store.
Immediately after airing this anecdote, the story blew up here in America and around the world — and did so with scarcely anyone in media bothering to verify the story or express any kind of skepticism.
Within a few days, the entire country of Switzerland apologized.
I didn’t hurt anyone. I don’t know why someone as great as her must cannibalize me on TV. … If it had all taken place as she claimed, why has she not complained the next day at the wedding of Tina Turner with Trudie Goetz, my boss? She was there also at the Turner wedding as a guest. I don’t understand it. … I spoke to Oprah Winfrey in English. My English is OK but not excellent, unfortunately. … I didn’t know who she was when she came into the store. That wouldn’t have made any difference if I had.”
And what is Oprah’s reaction to being called a liar by a racist? Well, it certainly isn’t the reaction of someone who was the victim of racism and then called a liar by the racist.
No, when confronted with the shop girl’s charge, Oprah issued a non-apology apology saying she was “sorry” the incident “got blown up.”
Well, who blew it up? While promoting the movie, Oprah also shared the anecdote with Larry King. Obviously, this anecdote is part of Oprah’s “Butler” promotional tour.
If we had a media worth a damn, it is right about now that they would be all over this.
There is more than enough evidence to suggest the possibility that Winfrey just exposed some innocent sales clerk to worldwide racial infamy using an exaggerated anecdote:
1. As I said yesterday, isn’t it just a little “too neat” that, while promoting a film with a heavy racial theme, Oprah pulls a “this racism just happened to me” anecdote out of a $38,000 purse?
2. Why didn’t Oprah want to announce to the world the name of a store that practices racism? Would that make the story too easy to check?
3. I repeat: Why isn’t Oprah outraged that a practicing racist just called her a liar in front of the whole world?
Our media claims that its job is to hold power accountable, especially when the powerful exploit the powerless.
Don’t hold your breath. Our media loves a race hoax. Although all the evidence proved race had nothing to do with the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, the media eagerly joined Al Sharpton and Barack Obama in their cynical con to pretend it did.
But what’s the reputation of a nobody sales clerk to a media that just falsely smeared the entire state of Florida?
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC