Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Can Oprah Pick A President?

HOW MUCH POWER does the media have?

Oprah Winfrey can make authors famous (remember James Frey) and she can sell lots of products. But can she choose our next president?

She's trying.

Should she be using her star power for such a cause? Isn't Oprah sort of a journalist, so isn't an endorsement wrong?

Or should people do whatever they have to if they truly believe in something?

43 comments:

Samantha Krotzer said...

I personally admire Oprah Winfrey and believe the second statement saying that people should do whatever they have to if they truly believe in something. Oprah is a successful woman, and she worked to get where she is today. I do not think that she should be made to feel like she is using her "star power" to get what she wants. She may be famous, but that does not maker her inhuman. Just like us, she can vote for and support whoever she wants. Just because she has the money to support Obama with a fund raiser doesn't mean she has too much power in the media. If the everyday person had the means to support a politician in the fashion that Oprah did, I am sure that they would do so.

john d. said...

Shes only powerful cause people listen to her, so her power is given to her by her devotees. because of this she can pretty much do whatever she pleases with it. I wouldn't really consider her a true journalist...she's a talk show host, not an objective reporter.

Anonymous said...

Ophrah, an articulate, thoughtful, and intelligent media icon has tons more credibility to me than Rosie O'Donnell, Donald Trump and Whoopie Goldberg combined! She is an entertainer first (and a very $uccessful one at that)... and a sad sign of the times is when the American public relies on entertainment as their unequivocal source of information. That said, she has every right to leverage her influence any way she sees fit. How is her influence any worse than James Dobson, Ollie North, Al Gore, or Dan Rather for that matter.

Chris said...

Oprah is not a journalist. She is an entertainer. I think she has a right to say who she is voting for, and even to try and influence other people's vote. Shiiiiiiit, I try and sway my friends and families vote! If people vote for whoever a celebrity backs and doesn't look into a candidate or issue themselves, that's on them, not the celebrity.

Geo said...

Oprah isn't a journalist? How is she different from Larry King? How is she different from Charlie Rose?

She talks to celebrities? So do the other accepted journos. Oprah caters to womens issues and sensitive stuff? So do Glamour, Cosmo and Elle.

Oprah interviews people and enlightens people on what is going on in the world.

Isn't she a journalist? Because she makes too much money? Why not?

- George (the teacher and devil's advocate)

Stacy said...

I believe that Oprah is definitely a journalist but she also rich and famous. Considering the American people's crazy obsession with the rich and famous I think that it's really quite smart of Oprah to use that to her advantage. She believes Obama should be president and she knows, because of her status, people are going to listen to her, god forbid they actually read up on the candidates or watch a debate. If I were as famous as she is and had people's attention, I would push my beliefs too.

Robin Tarleton said...

First and Foremost I believe Oprah has every right to her opinion regardless of who she is or why she supports it. She is an american citizen and can therefore support whoever she wants however she chooses. Being famous doesn't deny her the right to try and convince people to share her opinion, I know I can be very vocal on who I support and why. As for her being a journalist I suspect she is not, but it really depends on how much of her own research she does herself. Reading information her employees found does not make her a journalist.

danielle harvey said...

The first amendment guarentees American citizens the right to free speech. Unless I missed a headline that accused Oprah Winfrey of being an illegal immigrant, she has just as much of a right to voice her opinion as a bum on the corner.

Crystal Hawkins said...

Oprah knows she's extremely influential, and she's using her stardom to promote a presidential candidate, which I think is a huge offense. It's unfair of her to promote Obama in such a way because she has millions of people who love her and respect her opinion. She makes people famous. That said, not all of her viewers will have the same opinion when it comes to politics as her, but they could still be swayed.

Abby said...

I believe there is nothing wrong with Oprah throwing her support for a presidential candidate- celebrity’s do it all the time, maybe not so many as influential or powerful as Oprah. I know if I had as much influence on public opinion, I would use it to help support the man or woman I wanted to see in office.

I've heard many people complain that Oprah's endorsement is wrong b/c she is a type of journalist. However, I believe that the type of journalism she does- hosting a talk show- allows her to express her own opinions and show her bias.

Anonymous said...

Shanise Redmon
Oprah's star power is a good tool for publicity for the candiate she is endorsing because she influences so many people. But she should not have a say in politics especially because of the state that this country is in but she does have the right to express her opinion.

MJ Gentile said...

Oprah is not a journalist. She is a talk show host. This example makes it clear that all media comes from a specific perspective. People have an agenda, regardless of how objective they claim to be.
No one just reports the information. The way a story is told, what is added and what is left out, all reflects the entity that brings it to us.
That is not wrong, we should just be aware of it. And skeptical. Of course Oprah is going to support a political candidate she thinks will improve the country. She often uses her show to influence womens ways of seeing themselves and the world. This is not negative if it is understood in context.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if the important question is whether or not Oprah is a journalist, but whether or not her opinion should be validated. I do not know a whole lot about her, but from what I have seen, she is a powerful icon. Her name is synonymous with the rags to riches story, which I believe is one reason people label her as "a good person". As a role model for striking it rich, she seems like a good candidate. But as a political supporter? She tells us what books to buy, and we do it. So she tells us who to vote for, and we do it, too? As far as I can tell, she doesn't know what's going on in Iraq (or any other political issue) more than the next person on the street, so her opinion should be treated as such.

frances said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with Oprah having an opinion on who the next president should be; however she should not let her "star power" influence people on who to vote for nor should people base their opinion on Oprah. If Oprah is going to support a candidate, it should be privately.

Josh Godshall said...

In my opinion, the question of whether she is a journalist or not is not relevent. Instead, the issue of citizens allowing one figure to influence their political views enough to sway their vote is more important.

I find it stupid that a non-candidate has the influence to change a potentially well educated voter into a follower of a talking head.

Additionally, though i find it lame that she's able to potentially affect politics...if she truly can, more power to her. Wouldn't any of us use our power to put our personal choices in office?

Jenny Hong said...

I strongly believe that Oprah Winfrey is a journalist. Yeah, she's rich and famous but she became a celebrity through journalism. She began her career on the radio talking to people and their issues. She helped listeners solve their problems. She was so good that she was offered a job as a talk show host, which got her started. Another reason why she is an journalist, is how she has express her knowledge through her magazine O. Not only is Oprah a broadcast journalist but also a magazine journalist.

Victoria H. said...

Oprah just sort of embodies the lack of objectivity in news, to me. I do believe she was at least once a journalist, but she has a talk show where she can discuss topics she finds interesting and or important, she doesn't have to voice or express the other side at all. A year or so ago, there was controversy when she didn't air the remarks of rapper/actor Christopher "Ludacris" Bridge when she interviewed the cast of the movie 'Crash', some might say it was a purely editing decision, others (like myself) might say it was because of her dislike of rap music.

I don't think Oprah's name can give a man a presidency or even a nomination, but she does have a massive audience that could help with his election. It's great to have a cause, but as a journalist I'm not sure if it's right to be so blatant. But she's Oprah, she's a brand name almost and Obama got that stamp of approval from a powerful woman.

Anonymous said...

I think Oprah has too much power. She's only a talk show host. If Regis and Kelly had the same amount of say as she did then it would be fine. I know she's a huge icon but wasn't Britney Spears an icon as well?

-Robin

Anonymous said...

Oprah isn't a journalist in our traditional way of thinking; she rubs elbows with celebrities, feeds her opinions to audience members, and probably couldn't imagine a cover of O that didn't include her face. But she's laid claim to some parts of journalism, even if it's not the politics beat we imagine. All news personalities have a selling point; Oprah is just far more noticeable with hers. The extent to which we view her as a journalist may coincide with our opinion on the place of a journalist's self image and slant in the news.

-Mel M

Anonymous said...

i think oprah is very important to society. people, mostly african americans, look at her for hope. as someone who is black, i know that its important for every race and gender to have someone like this in our community.
i hear a lot of people say she is supporting obama because of his skin color. that bothers me. in 2004, she was all about kerry. sure, there were no black canidates but that doesn't mean she had to pick someone and support him.
i read that oprah said is obama doesn't get his name on the ticket she would love to see john edwards on there. he is a white man.
regardless, i think she can have a say in anything and since she is who she is and worked hard to get there.

-latoya

Morgan z. said...

Though Oprah is an ambitious woman who has dabbled in a wide variety of professions in which she is in the spotlight, I would not really consider her a journalist. Activist, philanthropist, talk show host, media mogul, yes, but not a journalist. Because she is not technically a journalist, it is okay and even more admirable for her to stand up for what she believes. As a certain kind of talk show host first and foremost, Oprah is not obligated to remain objective; her viewers, in fact, value her opinion, thus making her all the more influential.

Morgan z. said...

Though Oprah is an ambitious woman who has dabbled in a wide variety of professions in which she is in the spotlight, I would not really consider her a journalist. Activist, philanthropist, talk show host, media mogul, yes, but not a journalist. Because she is not technically a journalist, it is okay and even more admirable for her to stand up for what she believes. As a certain kind of talk show host first and foremost, Oprah is not obligated to remain objective; her viewers, in fact, value her opinion, thus making her all the more influential.

Chris Thomas said...

I think it is great that Opera Winfrey (she has a last name, you know) is supporting Barack Obama, but she not a legitimate source of information regarding politics. She is a media giant. No matter how much good she has done for various causes, she is still in the extreme upper class of America. It is unreasonable to wholly trust someone who can essentially buy your life.

Sarah Fry said...

Wondering if the most power daytime talk-show host was a journalist or not, I realized that first I needed to know what a journalist really was. Dictionary.com actually had something really funny to say. It directed me to look up journalism as a journalist is “a person who practices the occupation or profession of journalism” (dictionary.com). So journalism, one definition is “writing that reflects superficial thought and research, a popular slant, and hurried composition, conceived of as exemplifying topical newspaper or popular magazine writing as distinguished from scholarly writing: He calls himself a historian, but his books are mere journalism” (dictionary.com) Ouch, right. Well, maybe, but I think that most journalists, usually, are out to inform the public of the truths that are occurring around the world. Oprah may not be your favorite but if you watch one of her shows (which I have done maybe twice) she does have something to say about issues facing our planet. Wether those issues are stories about cosmetic surgery or the crisis in Darfur, she does give her viewers some quasi form of a news report. Even if she is a journalist, who cares if she is giving her opinion about Obama? Journalists give their opinions every day. Are you really that afraid that she might change the opinion of a few fickle fans? Let her give her support to Obama, it won’t affect the majority of America’s votes anyway.

Anonymous said...

The comment above stole my thunder. I was about to define 'journalist' and show how Oprah is just that. I guess I should have thought of comming on here at 2:01 am. If Oprah voiced her thoughts through a different medium such as...oh,HER MAGAZINE would more people then see her as a journalist?
Not only is she a journalist but she is on a different level from everyone else. While reporters at a White House press confrence will have contact (however limited) with powerful figures Oprah has the power to sit in a couch four to five feet away from them on her own kind of broadcasted journalism.
As for Obama, I'm much more curious why she isnt backing Hillary. Does this mean she is more african american than she is female? (uh oh i hope that wasnt too controversial)
greg adomaitis

Anonymous said...

I don't think that Oprah should have the ability to choose our next president. Yes, she has accomplished a lot in her career life, yes she has made people famous for their work, but what gives her the right in a political stance to choose our president? She's a talk show host. Just because she is well known and is one of the wealthiest women in TV business doesn't mean that she has any business in politics. I think she should just stick with her views on her TV show and that's it.

Jamie Olson said...

If people are swayed to vote for Obama simply because he is who Oprah has decided to vote for, then they aren't really thinking for themselves. I tell my friends and family who I think should be the next president and why I think that in hopes that they might agree with me and vote the same way. Just because Oprah reaches a larger audience than I do, doesn't mean that she shouldn't be allowed to do the same on her show. If people want to vote for Obama simply because Oprah is doing so, let them. Although I don't think that is the best way to choose a presidential candidate, Oprah shouldn't be forced to withhold her opinion simply because it influences other people's opinions.

medicpauly said...

George, years ago Oprah was a journalist. Not anymore.Oprah is an entertainer now. George, is Jerry Springer a journalist?

Anonymous said...

People should vote for whoever they believe in. They shouldn't let Hollywood's liberal bias get in the way. Rudy for 2008!

Anonymous said...

Steph Schaefer writes...

Oprah's power over women in society is insane. The people that go to her show and watch are show believe every word she says. She has an immense ability to help which ever canidate gain a huge vote from her audience alone. It's not wrong of Oprah expressing her beliefs at all. It's just sad that people don't have a mind of their own and just because Oprah says something is some way, they believe her and will vote accordingly.

Anonymous said...

people give money to things they believe in all the time. oprah isnt an exception. There are definatly a lot of people with a lot of money who probably support candidates other than Obama. I dont think its unappropriate to help him.


emily.
the redhead in the first row

Anonymous said...

Personally, I feel it is a damn shame Oprah has all the power and supporters she does. But since she does it is up to to use whatever influence she has to make this country a better place. If she so strongly believes that helping Barack Obama will help the world than she should do whatever she can to make it happen, because god knows Oprah is by no means a "journalist".

--Bill Matz

Anonymous said...

Even if Oprah wasn't "following the rules" by keeping her (publicized) stance on the election neutral - who would fire her? Can Oprah even get fired? Is she her own boss?

She's not breaking any laws. If she's stepping over the bounds of some unwritten journalist's code, well...I wouldn't really consider her the first to do so. I find mainstream news rather tainted with bias. It's kind of refreshing (to me) to see someone come out and explicitly announce her political views. In fact, I kind of wish news anchors were required to say things like: "Warning: I'm a republican. The following story will probably be spun accordingly whether or not I am aware of it." Or, "The forthcoming story is covered by a liberal-leaning journalist and the writing will inevitably sway leftwardly." Or maybe journalists should all wear T-shirts supporting the various political parties they back, with the faces of their respective candidates plastered in hearts across their chests.

Ok, I don't mean to demean all journalists, but deep down they (/we) have opinions too.

I think newspeople (unfortunately) let slip their political views in implicit ways all the time. Let's all try and guess which party Bill O'Reilly votes for. Ok, now let's try Katie Couric. Are either of them publicly advocating a candidate?

I don't think there are any actual laws stating that journalists may not publicly express their opinions. If someone mixes his or her opinions into stories without saying so, however, it's really no fun at all. To me, coming out and announcing one's views is a lot braver than channeling a sort of passive-aggressive bias into one's writing.

Back to Oprah. (Sidenote: Who here had the tiniest inkling that Oprah may have backed the democractic party before she even said so? Anyyyyoneeee?) Famous and influential people have opinions too. It's not Oprah's fault if everyone wants to listen to her. I find that kind of power pretty frightening, but not necessarily the fault of the listened to.

Unless she has some sort of crazy propaganda regime that she's going to use to take over the world.

...That wouldn't be cool. No, not at all.

- Caitlyn Conefry

Anonymous said...

Enea said...

I do not think that she should have that much power and it is not her job to do that.

Anonymous said...

If Oprah truly believe in Obama then why shouldn't she be able to do whatever she can to pick the next president. This may allow Obama to gain more votes but certaining nothing major.
Melissa A.P

Shannon Phillips said...

She is a journalist. She deals with news and she brings it to our attention. She is more than just a talk show host

Anonymous said...

If you take away Oprahs talk show, she's just another citizen in the US. Though her fan base crosses all over the US, she is only voicing her opinion of who should be in office. If people are influenced to vote for who she is supporting, than they probably were in the corner of that candidate all along. Not to say that all viewers hold the same opinions, just that they respect her opinion and because of that, swaying them one direction probably doesn't take much. As I said earlier, Oprah is a citizen just like everyone else so she holds the right to voice her opinion. Granted, her ways of voicing it differ from most citizens.. she is nonetheless deserving, and I don't think she is at fault.
-Brandi Hargette

Anonymous said...

Just noticed someone put "the red head in the first row" when signing. Guess I'll start signing as:
Brandi Hargette-the one who plans on becoming famous with their writing..
-more Maya Angelou famous than JH Rowling, effect the world with my words in a way that spreads positivity.. not demonic behavior :)

Anonymous said...

I believe that what Oprah is doing is a good cause because she believe in what Barak Obama stands for. If it was not for Oprah so many things would go unnoticed. She gets sex offeneders and if it wasnt for her we would have not know about how bad the destruction was of Katrina. Oprah believes in what Barak is preaching so she should support him, because she is also supporting her race. What Oprah has to say can effect many people that why she is powerful for persuading the media...
Gina Donaghy

Emily W said...

While it is true that oprah winfrey first established herself as a journalist, she currently does not write or publish news stories. Instead, she is the host of a talk show with the purpose of entertaining people. This talk show has enabled Winfrey to become well-known and widely recognized in the public arena, but personally i have never heard her profess that her show is a news show; it is excepted by the general public that her show is classified as a talk show and not a news show. correspondingly, while the views she expresses on her show and the issues discussed on air are usually relevant and timely, the basis of the show is not to inform people but simply to provide entertainment. As a result of this, i do not view winfrey as a journalist. with that being said, i do not think it is wrong for her to advocate the election of the candidate she prefers. I believe that people have the right to express freely how they think and feel (after all this is america) and winfrey is simply exercising her rights. what bothers me about this situation, though, is the idea that the american public would allow a talk show host to sway their political opinions...winfrey has no more authority in politics than the common person; her claim to fame is her tv show and her celebrity connections, and it makes me nervous that these connections have given her enough power that she has influence over the public. Knowing famous people does not make her any more politically aware than anyone else and does not make her any better at choosing the next american president than any other american. I also think its sad that her voice may be heard louder than those in support of other candidates or those who disagree with her simply because she has the fame and finances to make her opinion heard...this leads for misrepresentation and unbalanced representation of public opinion and of the candidates themselves among the american public.

Anonymous said...

If she wants to remain unbias, she won't try to preach to people who the president should be.
She is a journalist. She invites guests on her show, and quesitons them and lets her audience know more about them. I think that is a journalist.
She is someone who is informing the public of something they wouldn't all ready know.
So, endorsement is wrong.
and if she wants to keep all of her viewers, she will stay unbiased. The second she starts endorsing people, viewers who dislike her taste in presidents will switch to the next channel.
I do think people should do whatever they believe in. Yet, when Oprah is on her show, she needs to remain unbias. Off the show, at a Obama convention, sure, you can support. But on that journlistic style show, its a big no no.

Jessica Grimm said...

Oprah has an obvious bias about damn near everything, though. Why should we expect something different when it comes to a presidential election?

Shari DaCosta (student) said...

In the words of Stevie Wonder "now is the time to love". Yes, its easy to get caught up in life, but I refuse to let life get the best of me. I'm not saying I don't get worn down but that's life. We all struggle; black, white, Hispanic, Jazz lovers, friends, sisters, brothers. The list could go on but I think you get my point. This is exactly why I want to be a Journalist.