Sonya Unrein

Sonya Unrein
Denver, Colorado,
April 20


Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 16, 2009 1:38PM

Oprah should lend her platform to real reform

Rate: 13 Flag

It's a given that Oprah is a mighty force. Yesterday, she featured an author  who wrote a memoir 10 years ago, and that same book today is #85 on Amazon. Kathryn Harrison's The Kiss is going strong.

Oprah's new season's been on for several weeks now and I keep waiting for her to do a show that will make some kind of statement about the pending health care reform legislation. Yes, I realize, for sure, absolutely, that she can do programs on anything she'd like. Got that. But in the spirit of her Obama embrace, she should use the incredible power she's accrued to affect public opinion. For someone who is spiritual and leans left in reality even while she stays away from any kind of stance about anything substantive on her show, this is a moral imperative.

Yesterday on his new show, Dr. Oz Mehmet used the whole hour to address the issue of being uninsured in America. He is spending some of his popularity capital to make a difference. And Oprah should do the same.

For after three shows about incest, dads who are serial killers, boring interviews with teenaged country singers, conjoined twins, Whitney, Mike Tyson, and the "live on location" cringe-worthy spectacles where nothing really happens, it would be brave to showcase real people who don't have coverage and won't be able to get coverage. Candidate Obama profiled these real people in his campaign movie. Who could forget that lady with the severe rheumatory arthritis? She's worthy of a "Where are they now?" follow-up, and Oprah's show would be the perfect vehicle. Throw in a Suzy Orman appearance and you'd hit a home run.

Wouldn't it be worthwhile to lose even a partisan third of your audience if it meant making a positive major shift in policy? I wouldn't ask that she advocate for anything she wasn't personally passionate about. But if there were ever a a case for the urgency of now, this is it. Where's that Angel Network?

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I doubt it too, Stellaa, but I wanted to make a case for it.
Oprah won't do a show about healthcare because it will lead to too many jokes by comedians.

-If Oprah takes a stand on healthcare, she will break it in half.

-Oprah doesn't want to support healthcare because it will increase her taxes. One, she's super-wealthy. Two, she will be taxed for being overweight and a long term threat to the system.

More seriously, it will likely hurt her ratings. During the campaign, she was supporting someone on the way up who basically hid his real beliefs. Now, she would be supporting someone whose popularity is decreasing because people know what he believes in. Oprah stays popular by making as many people as possible think that she believes just like them. Staking out controversial positions won't help this.
I agree that it would hurt her ratings, but they're already reportedly slipping. Make hay while the sun shines, as the saying goes.
I'm not impressed with her docket this year. Some I am - some I am not (I particularly liked the "hair" show with Chris Rock, it is an interesting way to break down race barriers).

She could do it without being controversial. By having Dr. Oz back as a guest potentially or better yet, just reporting on the facts. Go inside America and show what it is really like (as you said). Bring a face to it again (like she did with Aids years ago). She hasn't always focused on popular subjects, but if she brings a heartfelt view into this issue, all of America can "see" what it is really like.

Hell, make a week of it. Be well rounded for that matter. But, keep it out in the open.

She rarely takes a personal stand on her show. She can, however, bring much needed attention and insight to it.

Rated for your great thought!
Absolutely. It would make a huge difference, but is too likely to alienate a segment of her audience.
She didn't hold back when she wanted to sway the American public to vote for President Obama, why hold back when our healthcare system is in the pits? She has a powerful forum. She should use it to explain the intricacies of the healthcare debate and expose politicians who are taking financial donations from the insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Excellent observation undertow!
Oh, and when I say politicians, I mean politicians on both sides of the aisle....
Think of the potential lost ad revenue. This will never happen.
I wish she'd do something about it too. I also wish she'd weighed in on the behavior of the people at the town halls.

When more people have lost their jobs/homes/cable and her ratings are plummeting, she might decide then to either take a stand or retire.
Oprah certainly made a personal stand on the puppy mill issue, and encouraged her audience many times to "DO SOMETHING." I admire her for that. So she can't take the same stand when it comes to the treatment of human beings in our broken health care system? You make some very good points. Thanks.
I don't think that a show about healthcare would affect the Oprah Show ratings. But I think it didn't happen yet because health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies are major add payers for TV channels. She sure don't want to make them angry. ;-p I agree with you that her shows are sensationalist and vulgar lately (but those choices are probably based on the profile of her audience...). I rarely watch TV, but in one of those occasions I saw only one of her programs this year, and I didn't like it. She could explore more of America's problems, talk about Education, Religion invading public schools, Racism, Immigration, Gay Rights, the transfer of public services to private companies and its consequences (here in Texas the federal food stamp program, administrated by the state, was transfered to a private company that does not provide good service. People in need of emergency assistance, wait for five, six months before they can start receiving the benefit. The state did that do they could fire all workers related to the service.. What else similar to this didn't happen during the Bush administration and still continues with Obama's?? It seems to me that all those things are more deserving of having a Oprah Report Show then what she is showing now..
Sometimes I wonder about her political committment. I think she supported Obama because of his race when she should have supported him because he is a progressive. She's done alot of trivial shows and could have used her influence on many issues but she hasn't. She could be like George Soros-a liberal who gives his money away in very astute ways. She seems content to be superficial and just rake in the bucks.
You make a great point. To Oprah's credit, she did endorse Obama when she could have played it more safe by supporting Hillary. She could make a big difference on the healthcare debate if she stuck her neck out just a little bit more.

If everyone who posts on Open Salon wrote to her show and made a case for doing it she might do it.. She did have Michael Moore on to talk about Sicko but she tried to be fair and balanced by asking an insurance company flack to try to rebut Moores' arguments. She should do it again (without Moore who is a divisive personality) and just bring on single payer advocates like Sheila Kuehl, former state senator from California who championed single payer health reform for years here in CA.
Insurance companies have tentacles all over the place and I wouldnt be surprised to hear her finances are tied up with them in some way