Oprah Puts Business Empire at Risk With Bold Political Move

In a virtual conversation with political leaders, the “Queen of all media” surprised some with an intriguing choice.

Oprah Winfrey’s meteoric rise to fame and fortune is well documented and celebrated.

She was born in Mississippi. She attended Tennessee State University, an HBCU in the heart of Nashville. At 19, Oprah became the youngest and first African-American anchor for the city’s WTVF-TV.

After continuing her broadcast journalism career in Baltimore, she then hosted a morning show in Chicago. That production was named The Oprah Winfrey Show, was syndicated in 1986 and received 16 Daytime Emmy Awards.

She has starred in films such as 1985’s “The Color Purple.” More recently she appeared in “The Butler” (2013) and “Wrinkle in Time” (2018).

Her book club was started on her show in 1996 and the works chosen for reading in “Oprah’s Book Club” had a wildly significant influence on bestseller lists.

Oprah is engaged in philanthropy, runs her own eponymous magazine, and in 2003 became the first African-American woman on Forbes’ list of the World’s Richest People. By 2019, her net worth was some $2.5 billion.

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The 2022 Race For Senate in Pennsylvania

One personality whose career she helped launch is that of Mehmet Oz, who used the name Dr. Oz for television. After several appearances by Oz on Oprah’s show, her company, Harpo Productions, produced The Dr. Oz Show beginning in 2009.

The show addressed health, wellness and medical information. It grew popular and acclaimed as it received nine Daytime Emmy Awards of its own.

The show was not without controversy. Dr. Oz was widely criticized for dubious medicinal advice, particularly with regard to weight loss. He testified on Capitol Hill in 2014 under those accusations in a hearing that was anything but friendly.

Dr. Oz left his show in early 2022 to run for the Senate in what has become a contentious race in Pennsylvania. He won the Republican nomination in June.

The current Senate consists of 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats, so every close race going into Election Day Nov. 8 is magnified in importance in terms of Senate control.

Dr. Oz’s opponent is Democrat John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s current lieutenant governor. Fetterman gained national notoriety as he challenged former President Donald Trump’s claims of fraud in Pennsylvania after the 2020 presidential election.

Fetterman is battling a health issue during the campaign, having suffered a stroke last May. In a debate Oct. 25, a number of observers suggested Fetterman’s efforts to recover his health were evident in his performance, as he sometimes struggled for words.


Oprah Gets Involved in the Race

Weighing all these factors, Oprah confronted three choices: Endorse Oz, endorse Fetterman, or make no endorsement at all. The difficulty for all in the entertainment industry is that by choosing sides in politics, one risks alienating a huge number of fans.

On Dec 16, 2021, Dr. Oz told attendees he had asked Oprah not to get involved, according to the New York Post.

“I asked her to stay out. Don’t support me because if you get involved in any way, you’ll get hurt and I don’t want my friends hurt,” Oz reportedly said.

Nearly a year later, on Nov. 3, five days before the election, Oprah endorsed the Democrat Fetterman.

It was during a virtual conversation with members from OWN Your Vote Coalition that she talked about the state of democracy and her view that freedoms once taken for granted were under threat. She clearly thought, on policy, she knew which candidates views were closer to her own. And she was ready to go public with her choice.

“I’m wondering, where are we headed? What’s going to happen to us if we don’t recognize the state of turmoil we’re in and we’re not willing to do something about it?” she asked.

“At the beginning of the midterm campaigns, I said it was up to citizens to vote for who would represent them,” Oprah said. “If I lived in Pennsylvania, I would have already cast my vote for John Fetterman. There are clear choices and some dynamic candidates who are working to represent the values that so many of us hold dear—like inclusion, compassion, and community. So I ask that voters use discernment and choose wisely for the democracy of our country.”

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