Two days before Oprah Winfrey is to host a celebrity-packed fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, NBC's Andrea Mitchell championed her potential ability to “turn her magic into votes for Barack Obama” and ABC's David Wright marveled: “Imagine the power of Oprah in an Obama campaign ad.” In a soundbite, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile gushed that “O plus O equals opportunity for Barack Obama to win in 2008.”
On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams justified his show's story by asserting that Winfrey's “support for him [Obama] is getting new attention” -- attention NBC decided to give the topic. Mitchell admired how Winfrey “can turn a first-time author into an instant best-seller, single-handedly reviving an industry,” leading her to wonder: “Can the billionaire entertainer, and richest woman in America, turn her magic into votes for Barack Obama?” Ted Johnson of Variety insisted: “It's a very big deal because Oprah, as we know, does not spread her endorsements lightly.” Mitchell concluded by noting how “Oprah was recently ranked the second most admired woman in America. Who was first? Hillary Clinton.” ABC's Wright took a similar approach on Thursday's Good Morning America: “Oprah's plug can turn a book into a bestseller, a movie into a blockbuster. And the question now is, can she turn a candidate into a President?” After citing how the guest list “includes Will Smith, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx and John Travolta,” as he segued into the above-quoted Brazile bite, Wright oozed: “Oprah's fundraiser is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine the power of Oprah in an Obama campaign ad.”
The fundraiser will take place Saturday at Winfrey's estate near Santa Barbara, California.
The Oprah Winfrey-Barack Obama story on the September 6 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Now to Democratic candidate Barack Obama campaigning on the West coast tonight in advance of a big party being held there in his honor this weekend. The hostess is Oprah Winfrey, and her support for him is getting new attention. Here is NBC's Andrea Mitchell.The MRC's Scott Whitlock provided this transcript of the September 6 story aired in the 7:30am half hour of ABC's Good Morning America:
ANDREA MITCHELL: She can turn a first-time author into an instant best-seller, single-handedly reviving an industry.
OPRAH WINFREY ON HER SHOW: What kind of response did you get to the show?
UNIDENTIFIED BOOK AUTHOR: The response was overwhelming.
WINFREY: Everybody gets a car!
MITCHELL: She all but invented the over-the-top studio giveaway.
WINFREY: Nothing in the world makes me happier than making other people see their dreams come true.
MITCHELL: But can the billionaire entertainer, and richest woman in America, turn her magic into votes for Barack Obama?
WINFREY ON SHOW WITH OBAMA: This is my Senator, my favorite Senator!
BARACK OBAMA: Oprah, you're my girl.
MITCHELL, OVER VIDEO OF GEORGE W. BUSH: Her popular show has long been a regular stop for politicians and their spouses. But now for the first time, Oprah is putting her money and star power on the line for a single candidate.
WINFREY: I've never, you know, spoken out politically about anybody. I think that he has the capability, certainly the potential, to be a great leader.
TED JOHNSON, VARIETY: It's a very big deal because Oprah, as we know, does not spread her endorsements lightly.
MITCHELL: She'll even open the gates of her lavish Santa Barbara estate this weekend for an Obama fundraiser, a ticket so hot even top Obama aides are fighting to get in. Why could Oprah's endorsement be so important? Because she reaches eight and a half million viewers each day, mostly women. Exactly the voters now largely supporting Hillary Clinton.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: A lot of times celebrities have tried to get political for other candidates and haven't had a lot of success. But Oprah is different.
MITCHELL: So different Oprah was recently ranked the second most admired woman in America. Who was first? Hillary Clinton. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.
ROBIN ROBERTS: "But first in this half hour, as we said, Oprah Winfrey has announced that she is backing Barack Obama for President. With her millions of loyal, devoted fans who follow her advice every day, an Oprah endorsement sounds like a pretty good thing for Obama. But will the Oprah effect, well, can it be effective in the world of politics? ABC's David Wright has more. David?"The online version of the GMA story.
DAVID WRIGHT: "Good morning, Robin. Oprah's $50 million estate outside Santa Barbara is called 'the promised land' and for a candidate, that's no exaggeration. Oprah's plug can turn a book into a bestseller, a movie into a blockbuster. And the question now is, can she turn a candidate into a President?"
OPRAH WINFREY: "I'm going to become a political activist."
WRIGHT: "As she told Larry King, she has never before played the king-maker."
WINFREY: "My support of him is probably worth more than any check that I could write."
WRIGHT: "The fundraiser this Saturday is expected to raise at least $3 million for Obama."
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA (D-ILL): "Oprah, you're my girl."
WRIGHT: "Cell phones and cameras, strictly banned. Guests will have to ride a bus to ‘the promised land' and sit on the grass once they get there."
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTON POST: "This is not going to be arriving by limousine and doing the red carpet and sitting comfortably around a dinner table."
WRIGHT: "The guest list? A closely guarded secret. It reportedly includes Will Smith, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx and John Travolta. Among the featured performers, reportedly, Stevie Wonder. And Oprah's fundraiser is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine the power of Oprah in an Obama campaign ad."
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: "She's putting her brand next to his brand and O plus O equals opportunity for Barack Obama to win in 2008."
HUFFINGTON: "This is a pretty unique moment in Oprah's history given how incredibly cautious she is about what she endorses, about what she aligns herself with and how protective she is of the Oprah brand."
WRIGHT: "Is there a potential downside for Oprah? Could she lose viewers? Most say no. At this point, the only downside is that it could make viewers discount some of the other political interviews she conducts."
BRAZILE: "I think it will give Barack, you know, finally the kind of second chance that he needs to catch up with Hillary Clinton."
WRIGHT: "Now, keep in mind, Oprah's core audience is women. So any vote that she steers Obama's way comes straight out of Hillary Clinton's strongest potential voting bloc. So it will be very interesting to watch. Diane? Robin?"
ROBERTS: "Also, she shares the same hometown in Chicago, so they've known each other for a while."
DIANE SAWYER: "That's right. That's right."