Looking to celebrities to fix our problems is a bad habit America needs to address, perhaps in nationwide group therapy. (If we can afford it, that is.) But as long as we’re electing TV hosts with strong personal brands and no political experience to the White House, we could do—and have already done—a lot worse than Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey’s rousing speech at last night’s Golden Globes, where she became the first woman of color to receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award, has re-ignited buzz about a possible presidential run for the beloved broadcaster/media mogul.
No less of a publication than The Washington Post, perhaps seduced by Winfrey’s shoutout to the free press in her Golden Globes speech, floated the idea this morning in a story titled, “Oprah For President In 2020? Here’s Everything You Need To Know.” But although that headline makes it sound as if Winfrey has a campaign already up and running, the truth of the matter is that Winfrey’s political ambitions have shifted from outright denials to cryptic “maybe I will, maybe I won’t” jokes in recent months. That’s all. Her longtime partner Stedman Graham left the option up to the people in a red-carpet interview with the Los Angeles Times, saying, “It’s up to the people. She would absolutely do it.” CNN, naturally, ran with the concept, citing two anonymous sources who say that Winfrey is “actively thinking” about a run earlier this morning.
If Winfrey did run, she’d almost certainly face an unprecedented level of vetting in the media—both social and otherwise—thanks to the dual threat posed by her race and sex. (It would certainly put the not-insignificant number of white women who listened to Oprah’s podcast on their way to vote for Donald Trump in a pickle.) But we like to think that if anyone could convince frightened Republicans to poke their MAGA caps out of their hidey-holes, it’d be Oprah. After all, she’s a billionaire. They love that.
UPDATE, 12:00 p.m.: NBC is backtracking after jumping a little too enthusiastically on the Oprah 2020 bandwagon for some viewers’ tastes in a tweet that read, “Nothing but respect for OUR future president,” along with a GIF of Winfrey at the ceremony. Because some people (ahemDonaldTrumpJr) can’t take a fucking joke, or a reminder that Donald Trump won’t be president forever (if only because of all that McDonald’s he eats), NBC has since deleted the tweet and issued a statement on Twitter:
So, yeah, that’s where we’re at right now as a nation.