Women turn on ‘traitor’ Oprah Winfrey
for backing Barack Obama, Oprah fans leave a barrage of
negative messages on her official website in response to the
talk show host's support of Obama, Sunday Times, London,
January 20, 2008
AMERICA’S favourite television presenter is paying a
painful price for her intervention in the US presidential
campaign last month. Oprah Winfrey has been dubbed a
“traitor” by some of her female fans for supporting Barack
Obama instead of Hillary Clinton.
Winfrey’s website, Oprah.com, has been flooded with a
barrage of abuse since the queen of daytime chat shows
joined Obama on a tour of Iowa, New Hampshire and South
Carolina in mid-December.
Her intervention was widely credited with broadening
Obama’s national appeal - especially among women - and with
helping him to an upset victory over Clinton in the first
vote of the election year in Iowa.
Yet a backlash by Clinton supporters appears to have
prompted a rethink by Winfrey, the African-American media
titan who is routinely described as the most influential
woman on television.
She did not reappear in the final days before the New
Hampshire primary - which Obama lost to Clinton - and has
been absent from the most recent campaigning in South
Carolina, which votes next weekend.
Obama aides believe that Winfrey will return to the
campaign. Her own staff noted last week that in addition to
her daily broadcasts on television and satellite radio, she
has also been busy negotiating a multi-million-dollar deal
with the Discovery cable network to create her own
television channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Yet Obama’s rivals suspect that Winfrey has been startled
by the virulent reaction to her previous campaign
It started with a message on her website entitled “Oprah
is a traitor” and rapidly expanded to include several
discussions that attracted hundreds of comments.
In the original post, a reader called austaz68 said she
“cannot believe that women all over this country are not up
in arms over Oprah’s backing of Obama. For the first time in
history we actually have a shot at putting a woman in the
White House and Oprah backs the black MAN. She’s choosing
her race over her gender.”
In a subsequent comment, 2nurselady wrote: “I don’t think
Oprah is a ‘traitor’, but I do think she may be alienating a
lot of her fans.”
Others have accused Winfrey of racism for siding with
Obama when such a well qualified woman as Clinton was
Winfrey has built her career on empathising with women’s
issues and offering a daily diet of redemption and hope. Her
show typically focuses on women who have suffered but
So hostile has the response been that some suspect dirty
tricks. “All the rude and hateful messages on here can’t be
from Oprah fans,” another visitor noted. “Someone’s campaign
(wonder who?) is sabotaging the message boards.”
Winfrey received a rapturous reception when she
campaigned with Obama last month. Yet several analysts
warned that she might adversely affect his chances.
Steve Ross, a history professor at the University of
Southern California, said: “The moment a star opens their
mouth and endorses one candidate, they alienate half their