Is Oprah Refusing To Endorse President Obama’s Reelection Campaign?
During Barack Obama‘s first campaign to become the President of the United States of America, Oprah was very vocal about her support of him—citing the fact that she was very moved by him when she saw him speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention—and gave him a ringing endorsement that helped him eventually get elected to office.
At the time, the move was bold, because while it helped Obama at the polls, it actually hurt Oprah. Her national favorability dropped from 74 percent down to 66 percent and her unfavorability ratings spiked up to 26 percent shortly after she held a political rally in support of Obama back in 2008. However, that was then—and this is now.
Recently, a source from Oprah’s camp announced that Oprah will not be doing that again. In fact, she reportedly won’t be endorsing Obama at all this time around. And the reason is pretty simple: She doesn’t want to hurt the ratings of her OWN network, which she is still working hard to try and get off the ground.
You see, back in 2008, Oprah didn’t have a whole lot to lose. She was just a few years away from announcing she would no longer be the host of The Oprah Winfrey Show. She also had more than 20 years of the show under her belt, meaning most of her true fans would stick with her even if they didn’t feel as though she should be endorsing a Presidential candidate. And, most importantly, she was Oprah! So even if people didn’t agree with her, she could no doubt give away a car to all of her audience members or help turn around the lives of students in an impoverished part of the world and make people forget all about her Obama endorsement if she really wanted to.
It’s a lot different this time around. She’s leaving her show after 25 years. She’s got her own network. And she doesn’t want to risk alienating possible OWN fans due to her Presidential preferences. So she’s not going to endorse Obama. But, doesn’t that feel a little…shallow?
After all, it’s obviously no secret that Oprah is riding for the President. She also put her name and her reputation on the line once. “I felt this man is going to be President of the United States one day,” she said in an interview earlier this year. “And I hope I’m alive to see it. And if I am alive to see it, I want to be part of it.”
So, does that mean she got it out of her system and doesn’t want to be a part of it the second time around? Does she not care that an endorsement from her could help put Obama over the top? Is she choosing to be the very definition of the term “politically correct” rather than risk the ratings of her OWN network to get Obama reelected?
If Oprah doesn’t want to endorse Obama during his second Presidential campaign, she doesn’t have to. That’s certainly her prerogative and it’s not like she has to endorse him in order to get him reelected. But if she’s going to become completely apolitical between now and 2012 simply because she’s concerned over the future of her network, that feels weak to us. If you give a guy your word during the good times, you should be required to do it when times get tough—regardless of how it could impact you.
But this is Oprah’s choice. But she should know she could end up looking worse than she might if she just sticks to her original script and endorses President Obama from the start. So let’s hope she does the right thing here.