Oprah has apparently decided that her coming out as a liberal Democrat has negatively affected her audience size—and more importantly, diminished the warm and fuzzy of OWN (her fledgling television channel). Popeater.com reported that the billionaire will not publicly support Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential campaign.
It turned out that a chunk of her audience didn’t care for her leap into politics in hosting a rally for Obama in 2008. According to Popeater:
An October 2008 Gallup poll before the rallies but after Oprah’s public endorsement of Obama found that Oprah’s favorable ratings had fallen from 74 to 66 percent while her unfavorable ratings jumped from 17 to 26 percent. Then came news that Oprah’s TV ratings showed that her daytime audience, which was nearly 9 million at its height in 2004-05, had fallen to 7.3 million.
That’s apparently causing fresh problems, as Popeater reports:
“For 2012, much has changed for Oprah. She now has own cable channel called OWN that has been struggling to find an audience — she isn’t going to do anything to alienate them,” a TV insider tells me.
BET, however, in its short online report, wanted to totally, completely assure its online readers that this lack of visible support would in no way be a real lack of support, saying “Winfrey is still a huge fan of the president” and “Oprah still has admiration for Obama.”
But, as generous as Winfrey has been to her staff, talk-show audiences and charities over the years, it’s probably safe to assume that Obama will still have Oprah’s financial support in his 2012 reelection bid.
So even though it is well known that Oprah supports Obama, and as BET says, undoubtedly privately and financially supports him, she simply hopes her viewers are stupid enough to forget that and be wowed by giveaways.
But Oprah’s endorsement of Obama was not her only foray into partisan politics. Let us not forget that just last year, on September 21, Oprah publicly encouraged her fans to attend Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Insanity—an open mockery of the Glenn Beck Restore Honor rally held just weeks earlier.
Celebrities don’t get to jump in and out of the political arena whenever it seems fun or frivolous to them. If you are going to take a stand, set your standard atop the Alamo, fine. Just know that it will cost you part of your audience. And later, you don’t get to act like it never happened, if it becomes inconvenient to your bottom line.
There was once talk of the Oprah Mo, the momentum her endorsement gave to Obama. Never forget the Oprah-mo.