Rev. Irene Monroe –
The media is abuzz with excitement about Republican Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska.
McCain’s V.P. pick has stirred up excitement, especially for women in the G.O.P. But his pick has also stirred up anxiety as well as questions for many women across party lines.
And who’s best to help this nation’s women sort out their feelings?
But the doyenne of daytime talk has many of her loyal viewers disappointed if not downright mad at her refusal to have Palin on her show anytime soon.
Oprah released a statement saying her reason isn’t person, it’s political.
“There has been absolutely no discussion about having Sarah Palin on my show. At the beginning of this Presidential campaign when I decided that I was going to take my first public stance in support of a candidate, I made the decision not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates. I agree that Sarah Palin would be a fantastic interview, and I would love to have her on after the campaign is over.”
But not everybody’s buying it and a backlash is brewing. A group of Republican women from Florida, for example, is boycotting Oprah’s show, and is calling for the cancellation of her magazine.
“Women in Florida helped build Oprah into the icon she is today,” Linda Ivell, president of the Federation of Republican Women, told the Miami Herald. “We are deeply disappointed in Ms. Winfrey’s decision to sit out the greatest political moment in the history of women since suffrage.”
As one who’s on top of breaking news and who courts dignitaries, Hollywood hotshots, and media celebs to her television couch, Oprah also disappointed Hillary Democrats when her couch wasn’t opened to the former First Lady during her presidency bid.
“Why are we surprised? When she has built her career “talking” about the greatness of women she again shows her bias against other strong political women. She dissed Hillary Clinton over Obama. Maybe women will now see Oprah for whom she really is,” a disgruntled fan on Oprah’s website wrote.
When Oprah endorsed Obama it was the first time the media magnate got involved in politics. And Oprah’s partisan big bucks threw a star-studded fundraiser for her presidential pick with 1,500 guests at her sold-out private soirée at $2,300 apiece. Oprah talked to United Press International about why she held the fundraiser at her home stating, “I call my home the Promised Land because I get to live Dr. King’s Dream. I haven’t been actively engaged before because there hasn’t been anything to be actively engaged in. But I am engaged now to make Barack Obama the next president of the United States.” She went on the campaign trail with Obama touting he’s the “chosen one.” Her appearances at Obama’s rallies in Iowa and South Carolina helped Obama win those primaries.
But as Oprah tries to take America down her path in this presidential campaign, many of Oprah’s loyal viewers, especially white women, see her endorsement of Obama and her off-limits policy of both Hillary and Palin to her show as a betrayal to them, many of whom see themselves as the backbone to Oprah’s success.
“Initially, Oprah’s success was the product of Affirmative Action and a WHITE audience. Don’t kid yourself, BLACKS didn’t “make” Oprah. Now, gazillions of dollars later, her show has become nothing but a not too subtle political forum. Many of us are tired of hearing what Oprah thinks…her ratings prove that! The sun is starting to set on her little empire, ” wrote another disgruntled fan.
In May 2007 when Oprah announced she was endorsing Obama her ratings plummeted from 74% to 61%. Soon after her campaigning for Obama in Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire her ratings dropped further to 55%. And according to an AOL TV popularity that surveyed of 1.35 million Americans 46% said the daytime TV host who “made their day” was Ellen Degeneres, who has had Obama, Hillary and McCain on her show, while only 19% chose Oprah. Unfortunately, Oprah’s not inviting Hillary and McCain to her show turned many of these same viewers off to Obama.
Half of Oprah’s staff wants Palin on the show, and Oprah’s website is getting tons of requests for her.
“Please Oprah, interview Sarah Palin. Even though I’m voting for Obama. I want to know more about this historic woman and I think you could really get her to open up.”
In the last convention, DNC delegates who were supporters of marriage equality were disallowed from bringing signs into Boston’s Fleet Center for what was cited as “security reasonsPalin is a media sensation just as Obama is. She draws crowds by the thousands with women carrying placards saying, “ Read my lipstick, SP 4 VP.” According to the recent Washington Post Poll, white women, an important demographic group in this election, now favor McCain 53% to Obama’s 41% because of the “Palin Effect.” And the “Palin Effect.” has excited a portion of Oprah’s viewership across party lines.
But Oprah’s refusal to invite Palin for a chat on her TV couch will undoubtedly cost her the lost of few more viewers. And it might cost Obama a few more votes.
Rev. Irene Monroe
Rev. Irene Monroe is a Ford Fellow and doctoral candidate at Harvard Divinity School. One of Monroe’s outreach ministries is the several religion columns she writes – “The Religion Thang,” for In Newsweekly, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender newspaper that circulates widely throughout New England, “Faith Matters” for The Advocate Magazine, a national gay & lesbian magazine, and “Queer Take,” for The Witness, a progressive Episcopalian journal. Her writings have also appeared in Boston Herald and in the Boston Globe. Her award-winning essay, “Louis Farrakhan’s Ministry of Misogyny and Homophobia”, was greeted with critical acclaim. Monroe states that her “columns are an interdisciplinary approach drawing on critical race theory, African American , queer and religious studies. As an religion columnist I try to inform the public of the role religion plays in discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Because homophobia is both a hatred of the “other ” and it’s usually acted upon ‘in the name of religion,” by reporting religion in the news I aim to highlight how religious intolerance and fundamentalism not only shatters the goal of American democracy, but also aids in perpetuating other forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, classism and anti-Semitism.”
Recent articles by Irene: