CNN Surprised Oprah Facing ‘Backlash’ Over Obama Endorsement

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterCNN’s Carol Costello, in a segment on Thursday’s "The Situation Room," highlighted the reaction of some fans of Oprah Winfrey who expressed anger at the TV host’s endorsement of Democrat Barak Obama. At the beginning of the segment, Costello voiced her surprise to this development, and all but deified the daytime TV star. "Who knew that Oprah Winfrey, super celeb, might suffer the same fate as mere mortal celebrities -- backlash."

The segment, which aired 43 minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of "The Situation Room," focused on the racial component to the issue. Costello opined that the Oprah viewers’ comments were "telling about how many Americans feel about African Americans, even those popular among all races." She later went on to say that some comments left on Oprah’s website were "especially interesting," because some said Oprah was "pitting white against black, because of how she stumped for Obama."

Video Clips (1:18): Windows (2.40 MB), plus MP3 audio (608 kB).

Costello played two sound bites from Oprah. The first came from one of Oprah’s stump speeches for Obama. "You know Dr. King dreamed the dream. But we don't have to just dream the dream anymore. We get to vote that dream into reality." In the second, from an interview on "Good Morning America," Oprah rejected the accusation that she was endorsing Obama because he is black.

The full transcript of the segment from Thursday’s "The Situation Room:"

WOLF BLITZER: Oprah Winfrey is now facing a backlash from some of her fans for lending star power to Barack Obama's presidential campaign. She drew thousands of people to rallies for the Democratic presidential candidate. But now she's drawing angry e-mail. Let's bring in Carol Costello. She's here in 'The Situation Room.' Why are some of her fans apparently angry?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Well, keep in mind, Wolf, these fans were commenting online. And let's face it, people just let it all out, sometimes in the heat of the moment. But their comments are telling about how many Americans feel about African Americans, even those popular among all races.

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Barack Obama!

COSTELLO (voice-over): Who knew that Oprah Winfrey, super celeb, might suffer the same fate as mere mortal celebrities -- backlash. Fans writing into her web site are angry she has gone political. Angry she is campaigning for Barack Obama. 'Oprah,' says one, 'count me as tuned out for now.' Another says, 'It is a turnoff for a lot of your fans.' Yet another says, 'Oprah has crossed a line and lost my trust completely.' We asked people in South Carolina if they agreed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a private citizen, you know, she can be involved. But to try to promote a politician, I don't think the involvement is needed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think any celebrity should go public with their views.

COSTELLO: Hmmm. What's especially interesting about reading Oprah's website, though, is why many online fans are upset. Some say it seems she is pitting white against black, because of how she stumped for Obama.

WINFREY: You know Dr. King dreamed the dream. But we don't have to just dream the dream anymore. We get to vote that dream into reality.

COSTELLO: Some reaction. 'Winfrey has artfully begun her stump speeches alongside Obama with a negative racial tone. Don't pit blacks against whites.' And this one: 'This is getting so tiring. Are we voting for Obama because he's black?' That's something Winfrey rejected on 'Good Morning America.'

WINFREY: To think that I would just be in support of somebody because of the color of their skin would mean we hadn't moved very far from Dr. King's speech in 1963, saying that we want people to be judged by the content of their character, and not by the color of their skin.

COSTELLO: Winfrey also told us she weighed carefully whether she should get involved in politics, asking herself, 'Am I going to lose viewers? I made the decision that I have the right to do it as an American citizen.'

COSTELLO (on-camera): And Oprah says she welcomes all comments. It's good to vent. It provokes conversation and debate about things we all really need to think about.

BLITZER: Interesting. Fascinating stuff. Thanks very much Carol for that.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center