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The Fall of the Oprah Empire?!?

Scott on May 28, 2008 at 11:37 am

Many news agencies (like here, here and here) are reporting on the fact that of late, Oprah’s popularity seems to be in decline. In the past year alone, Oprah has lost 7% of her viewership and since 2005 her viewership has dropped by over 1.5 million viewers, or by nearly 18%. Oprah’s publication, “O,” has also lost considerable readership over the last couple years with its numbers dropping by 10%.

Everyone seems to be speculating that her recent slump is a result of her decision to become politically active and endorse Barack Obama. This drop in popularity would make a certain amount of sense, since Oprah’s acolytes tend to be white middle aged women, a demographic that leans much more towards Clinton than Obama.

However, most people who are writing about this story seem to be ignoring some other large possibilities.

1. Perhaps her viewership and readership is down because over the last couple years especially she has become a shill for odd, new age-ish, psychobabel spirituality featuring people like Eckhardt Tolle, Marianne Williamson, etc.

2. Perhaps her viewership is down because over the last year or two she has worked hard to normalize those things that most people believe to be odd/strange/weird/wrong. Take for example her recent show featuring a transgender “pregnant man.”

3. Perhaps her viewership is down because on at least two occasions over the last couple years, she has endorsed/pushed books by authors who, it turns out, are in reality liars who made up the bulk of their autobiographies to sell books and to get on the Oprah book list (the books – Love and Consequences and A Million Little Pieces). I have spoken to more than one woman in the last six months who has begun to doubt Oprah’s views on a lot of subjects because she has damaged her credibility.

Now let me be clear.  I believe that Oprah does a lot of good.  She addresses needs in the world that people resonate with – spiritual hunger, physical hunger and poverty, lack of education, etc.  I just can’t help but wonder if she has become a poster child for those people in the world who have been fooled into believing that because they have money and power, it is their duty/job/calling to try and impart their beliefs, their “truths” and their desires on everyone else.  People like Oprah become a slave to the misguided belief, fostered by those who insulate them from the realities of life, that they have been placed in their positions of power and influence in order to shape the world to reflect their world view.

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