Oprah’s Palin snub rubs audience wrong way

By Bethany Reinhart

Alaskan governor Sarah Palin is the first woman in 24 years to be nominated for vice president. The 44-year-old mother of five is a self-proclaimed “hockey mom” who recently helped reinvigorate the once-sluggish presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain. But despite her undeniable appeal to scores of women around the country, television talk-show mogul Oprah Winfrey has refused to interview Palin.

By refusing to interview the vice presidential nominee, Winfrey has not only offended a large percentage of her core viewers, she has also revealed her own political bias. Her decision to deny Palin is sure to be reflected in her ratings.

Conservatives around the country have called for a boycott of Winfrey’s show.

Despite the controversy, Winfrey continues to claim she refused the interview because she doesn’t want her show used as a political platform. However, Winfrey welcomed Sen. Barack Obama onto her show with open-arms not once, but twice.

Not only has Winfrey embraced Obama, she has acted as one of his biggest supporters. She has toured with him, made numerous appearances at campaign rallies and most recently, attended the Democratic National Convention to show her support. It was there, while listening to his speech, that Winfrey said she “wept her eyelashes off” because she was so moved. Winfrey even went so far as to hold an Obama fundraiser, for which tickets sold for $2,300 each-the legal maximum amount for primary-campaign giving.

For a woman who claims she doesn’t want her show used for a political platform, she is exceedingly quick to alienate her audience in order to satisfy her own political agenda.

According to MSNBC.com, Winfrey’s core audience is comprised of married white women over the age of 55. Her viewers tend to have conservative values and often support Republican candidates. The women who make up Winfrey’s core audience are the same women who have rallied behind Palin. Winfrey’s refusal to host Palin has spawned outrage among the talk-show diva’s viewing demographic.

In a statement released by Winfrey, the talk-show giant said, “At the beginning of this presidential campaign when I decided that I was going to take my first public stance in support of a candidate, I made the decision not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates.”

But in every election preceding this, Winfrey has shown no problem using her stage as a political battleground. In 2000, Winfrey allowed both Al Gore and George W. Bush to sit on her infamous couch.

The point Winfrey seems to be missing is that she could easily use her show to interview Palin without turning it into a political platform.

Winfrey does not have to agree with or support any of Palin’s political viewpoints to have a successful and compelling interview. In fact, due to Palin’s intriguing personal background, Winfrey could have easily hosted the vice presidential nominee without even touching on politics.

The very things that have made many American women fall in love with Palin are the exact topics that Winfrey would typically cover. Winfrey could have talked to Palin about being a working mother of five, of a developmentally disabled child, of a pregnant teenage daughter and of a son who is being deployed to Iraq. These are topics that American women-Winfrey viewers-can relate to. These are critical topics that keep viewers tuning into “The Oprah Show” and flipping the pages of O Magazine day after day. By refusing to host Palin, Oprah closed the door to what could have been a compelling conversation, from one woman to another.

“Oprah” is a women’s talk show with a mission to empower women. Winfrey’s choice to snub Palin goes against all that her show stands for. In the end, Winfrey may be able to walk away from this decision with her political allegiance in tact, but it is unlikely she will walk away unscathed.