- Oprah Winfrey
- Before The Oprah Winfrey Show
- Oprah’s Success
- The Other Side of Oprah
Oprah’s Ratings and Influence
Oprah Winfrey was called “arguably the world’s most powerful woman” by CNN and Time.com, “arguably the most influential woman in the world” by the American Spectator, “one of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th Century” and “one of the most influential people” from 2004 to 2011 by Time.
Winfrey is the only person in the world to have appeared in the latter list on all eight occasions. Winfrey was at the White House for the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors.
Oprah and Religion
2002, Christianity Today printed a section called “The Church of O”. They concluded that Oprah had risen as an influential spiritual leader. “Since 1994, when she abandoned traditional talk-show fare for more edifying content, and 1998, when she began ‘Change Your Life TV’, Oprah’s most significant role has become that of spiritual leader. To her audience of more than 22 million mostly female viewers, she has become a post-modern priestess—an icon of church-free spirituality.” The view was repeated by Marcia Z. Nelson in her book The Gospel According to Oprah. Ever since the mid 1990s, The Oprah Winfrey show has given emphasizes toward moving and inspirational subjects and themes. Some viewers claim the show has provoked them to perform acts of compassion such as helping Congolese women and erecting an orphanage. A controlled study by psychological scientists at the University of Cambridge, University of Plymouth, and University of California used an inspiring clip from the Oprah Winfrey Show in an investigation discovering, that watching the ‘uplifting’ clip caused subjects to become twice as helpful as subjects assigned to watch a British comedy or nature documentary.
Oprah’s Influence and Credibility
Columnist Maureen Dowd agrees: “She is the top alpha female in this country. She has more credibility than the president. Other successful women, such as Hillary Clinton and Martha Stewart, had to be publicly slapped down before they could move forward. Even Condi has had to play the protégé with Bush. None of this happened to Oprah — she is a straight ahead success story.” Vanity Fair printed: “Oprah Winfrey arguably has more influence on the culture than any university president, politician, or religious leader, except perhaps the Pope.” Bill O’Reilly noted: “this is a woman that came from nothing to rise up to be the most powerful woman, I think, in the world. I think Oprah Winfrey is the most powerful woman in the world, not just in America. That’s — anybody who goes on her program immediately benefits through the roof. I mean, she has a loyal following; she has credibility; she has talent; and she’s done it on her own to become fabulously wealthy and fabulously powerful.”
as “the most influential woman” and “most influential black person of the previous quarter century.” Ladies Home Journal also rated Oprah as the 1st in their list of “the most powerful women in America.” President Barack Obama has said she “may be the most influential woman in the country”. In 1998 Oprah became the 1st woman and 1st African-American to lead Entertainment Weekly’s list of the 101 most powerful people in the entertainment industry. Forbes named Winfrey as “the world’s most powerful celebrity in 2005, 2005, 2008 and 2010” In 2010 Life Magazine named Oprah one of the “100 people who changed the world”, alongside such luminaries as Elvis Presley, Lady Mary Wortley and Montagu Jesus Christ . Oprah was the only surviving woman to make the list.
2005 Oprah was titled “the greatest woman in American history” by a public survey titled The Greatest American. She was rated number nine overall on the list of “greatest Americans.” A November 2003 Gallup opinion poll assessed that seventy three percent of American adults had a “favorable” view of Oprah. Another Gallup opinion poll in January 2007 appraised the same figure at seventy four percent.
According to Gallup’s yearly “most admired” opinion poll, Americans regularly rank Oprah as one of the “most admired women in the world.” Her highest rank came in 2007 when Oprah was statistically tied with Hillary Clinton for 1st place.
In the season premier of Oprah’s 13th season, Roseanne Barr told Oprah “you’re the African Mother Goddess of us all” stirring a lot of enthusiasm from the audience.
The animated series “Futurama” insinuated her spiritual impact by implying “Oprahism” is an accepted religion in 3000 AD.
Oprah Winfrey’s Effect on War
12 days after the September 11th attacks, New York mayor Rudy Guliani asked Oprah to serve as the host of a Prayer for America’s service at New York City’s Yankee stadium. The stadium was attended by the likes of former president Bill Clinton and New York senator Hillary Clinton.
Prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, less than a month after the September 11 attacks, Oprah broadcasted a controversial episode titled “Islam 101” were she illustrated Islam is a religion of peace, calling it “the most misunderstood of the three major religions”.
2002, George W. Bush asked Oprah to accompany a US delegation that included adviser Karen Hughes and Condoleezza Rice, planning to “go to Afghanistan to celebrate the return of Afghan girls to school.” The “Oprah strategy” was intended to depict the war on terror in a positive light. However, when Oprah declined to take part, the trip was deferred.
Prior to the U.S. attack on Iraq, The Oprah Winfrey Show got criticism for apparently having an anti-war favoritism. Ben Shapiro from Townhall.com wrote: “Oprah Winfrey is the most powerful woman in America. She decides what makes the New York Times best-seller lists. Her touchy-feely style sucks in audiences at the rate of 14 million viewers per day. But Oprah is far more than a cultural force; she’s a dangerous political force as well, a woman with unpredictable and mercurial attitudes toward the major issues of the day.” In 2006, Oprah remembered controversies like: “I once did a show titled Is War the Only Answer? In the history of my career, I’ve never received more hate mail – like ‘Go back to Africa’ hate mail. I was accused of being un-American for even raising the question.” Liberal film maker Michael Moore came to Oprah’s defense, commending her for exhibiting anti-war footage no other television show would air. Michael also begged her to run for president. A February 2003 series, in which Oprah was showing video clips from individuals all over the globe begging America not to go to war, was interrupted by network broadcasts of a press conference in which President George W. Bush and Colin Powell outlined the reasoning for the war.
Oprah and “The Secret”
2007, Oprah started to approve the self-help program “The Secret”. “The Secret” claims that individuals are capable changing their lives by positive thoughts or “vibrations”, which will then cause them to attract more positive vibrations that result in good things happening to them. Peter Birkenhead of Salon magazine argued that “The Secret” is “pseudoscience and psychologically damaging, as it trivializes important decisions and promotes a quick-fix material culture, and suggests Winfrey’s promotion of it is irresponsible given her influence.” In 2007, skeptic and magician James Randi accused Winfrey of being “deliberately deceptive and uncritical in how she handles paranormal claims on her show.” In 2008 Oprah endorsed author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle and his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, which sold several million copies after being picked out for Oprah’s book club. Oprah said “God is a feeling experience and not believing experience. If your religion is a believing experience […] then that’s not truly God.” A Christian radio talk show host on KKLA, Frank Pastore, was among the many Christian heads who disapproved Winfrey’s views, stating “if she’s a Christian, she’s an ignorant one, because Christianity is incompatible with New Age thought.”
Oprah and PETA
Oprah was titled as the “2008 Person of the Year” by animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for “using her fame and listening audience to help the less fortunate, including animals.” PETA commended Oprah for utilizing her talk show to uncover horrific cases of cruelty to animals in puppy mills and on factory farms. Oprah even utilized her show to emphasize the “cruelty-free” vegan diet that she tried. Oprah also refuses to wear fur or feature it in her magazine.
Oprah’s Popularity In Other Countries
Oprah has come to be more and more popular in the Arab world, Outside the U.S. The Wall Street Journal stated, in 2007, that MBC 4, an Arab satellite television channel, focused its entire scheduling around reruns of Oprah’s show because it was bringing in record numbers of women viewers in Saudi Arabia. The New York Times, in 2008, stated that The Oprah Winfrey Show, with Arabic subtitles, was broadcasted twice every weekday on MBC 4. Oprah’s unpretentious dress, integrated with her accomplishment over misfortune and abuse has led to some women in Saudi Arabia idolizing her.
Oprah’s show had estimated 14,000,000 daily viewers, in 1998. The show has since dropped to nearly 9,000,000 in 2005 and to around 7,300,000 viewers in 2008, although it stood the highest ranked talk show. Oprah’s show was being aired in one hundred and forty countries internationally and seen by an estimated 46 million people in the US weekly, ,In 2008, . Oprah was America’s preferred TV personality, According to the Harris poll, in 1998, 2000, 2002–2006, and 2009. Oprah is particularly popular among women Generation X, political moderates, Baby Boomers, East Coast Americans, Democrats and Southern Americans.