In 2008, former President Barack Obama was running in the presidential primaries against Hillary Clinton, then a Senate Democrat from New York. He emerged victorious only after netting the endorsement of… media mogul Oprah Winfey.
Now the Obama White House appears to be returning the favor.
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Former First Lady Michelle Obama wrote Winfrey’s blurb for Time magazine’s feature “The 100 Most Influential People of 2022.
“What I love most about Oprah is that she has never been content to keep it for herself,” the former first lady wrote.
Michelle Obama went on about Winfrey’s ability to make people confess.
“Whether she’s talking to pop stars, Presidents, schoolgirls, scholars—or she’s asking you about your life over a glass of wine in the living room—Oprah has always had that uncanny ability to open us up, to hear beyond our words, and to uncover a higher truth, to be vulnerable with us in a way that allows us to be vulnerable back,” she wrote. “That’s her secret.”
The Obama family has long bemoaned — but has also presided over — political polarization.
“The rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” Barack Obama said in his 2016 State of the Union. “It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency.”
Still, Winfrey enjoys wide success even amid media polarization, the former first lady said.
“And all of it makes me wonder: maybe her success isn’t rooted in the fact that she found a common denominator that unites us all,” Michelle Obama wrote. “Maybe Oprah is our common denominator.”
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Since leaving the White House, the Obama family has ventured into Winfrey’s world: media.
After leaving the White House in 2017, the Obama family started a production company, Higher Ground Productions. Michelle Obama has produced an Oscar-nominated documentary and hosted hosted Spotify’s fourth-most popular podcast, according to a 2020 infographic by Spotify.
Winfrey herself once appeared to be venturing into the Obamas’ world: running for president.
In 2018, Winfrey generated buzz about a possible run for president after her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes. A year later, the talk show host Bill Maher described Winfrey as the only shoo-in alternative to Donald Trump, the president at the time.
However, Winfrey declined to run.
“I would not be able to do it. It’s not a clean business. It would kill me,” she told British Vogue later that year.
“In that political structure ― all the non-truths, the bulls***, the crap, the nastiness, the backhanded backroom stuff that goes on ― I feel like I could not exist.”
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The Horn editorial team