Oprah's a Hypocrite, and Her New Network Proves It

Winfrey preaches one thing, practices another, writes Nancy Franklin
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2011 10:59 AM CST
Oprah Winfrey listens to a reporter's question during the Discovery Communications Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

(Newser) – Oprah Winfrey has always been a sort of contradiction: A person who touts “the betterment of the species,” yet frequently features guests like, well, Jenny McCarthy; a person who is interested in “spirituality and personal growth,” yet connects with her audience through very, very expensive gifts. Never has this inconsistency been more apparent than on her new OWN network, writes Nancy Franklin in the New Yorker. The channel is supposed to be about that familiar Oprah catchphrase “living your best life,” but all it offers is “an overabundance of highly directed, highly edited, highly scripted ‘unscripted’ programming.”

In a recent online chat, Winfrey called her work on the channel the most “creative” and “open” she’s ever been. “Self-congratulation is nothing new for Winfrey, but in this case it isn’t based on much,” Franklin continues. What, exactly, is creative about handing Rosie O’Donnell yet another talk show or giving Dr. Laura Berman more opportunities to counsel couples about sex? And how is Winfrey “being her best self” by giving troubled Sarah Ferguson a show instead of actual help, or allowing people like estranged Ryan and Tatum O’Neal to work out their family dysfunction on screen? “OWN isn’t about experimentation or risk-taking,” Franklin concludes. “It’s about empire-building and image-inflating.”

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