Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What does Oprah Winfrey really think of the American public?

Recently, television talk show host Oprah Winfrey was alleged to have uttered the following statement:
I believe in the intelligence of the American public.
Not that it matters,  but she was answering a question about whether the thought of Sarah Palin running for president "scares her." The full sentence:
It does not scare me because I believe in the intelligence of the American public.
The full sentence doesn't matter, and neither does the subject. It's the last nine words that are important:
I believe in the intelligence of the American public.
Is there anyone in history who has amassed more wealth, fame, and power for herself by betting on the less intelligent instincts of the American public than Ms. Winfrey? Her record of betting against the intelligence of the American public, of appealing to the American public's more base instincts, and exploiting our collective lack of critical thinking skills is astonishing. This is a woman who had on her show a man named Eddie Compass, who was the chief of police in New Orleans, Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina hit. He told her,

He is especially disturbed by what he saw inside the Superdome. The horrors there will haunt him the rest of his life. "We had little babies in there, little babies getting raped," he says. "You know how frustrating it is to be the Chief of Police knowing inside these things are being done and you don't have enough manpower to go in there?"
Happily, that wasn't true.
By Sept. 6, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" aired interviews with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and police Chief Eddie Compass, who repeated accounts of utter depredation as fact, from which they would later backpedal. The show also featured correspondent Lisa Ling talking to unidentified evacuees who had fled to nearby Metairie, La.; they told Ling there were shootings inside the Superdome and dead bodies on the ground. "There were boys waiting in the bathroom for the children," one unidentified woman said, "and they'd have -- they raped the children, have sex with them. One of the girls they raped, then they killed her."

But according to members of the Louisiana National Guard who were present at the Superdome throughout the crisis, none of these atrocities was verified to have taken place.
Yet Mr. Compass's comments are still presented on Ms. Winfrey's website, unchallenged.

Catastrophe + despicable stories of unimaginable tragedy = ratings gold. Ms. Winfrey wasn't appealing to Americans' intelligence with this story. She was appealing to something much more base and sinister.

Ms. Winfrey also infamously publicized the urban legend "Rainbow Parties" as if they were an actual phenomenon.
The rainbow party was publicized in October 2003 on the episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show entitled "Is Your Child Leading a Double Life?", which was about the perceived trend of increasing sexual promiscuity among American youth and the lack of parental awareness of the sexual practices of their children.

One guest on the show, who claimed to be aware of teenagers' sexual habits, asserted, among other things, that many teens across the United States engage in rainbow parties. According to the same report, teenage girls are also competing to see who can have the most babies with black men in an attempt to irritate parental guardians of foster homes.
What's a rainbow party supposed to be?
A rainbow party is a supposed group sex event featured in an urban legend spread since the early 2000s. A variant of the standard sex party urban myth, the stories claim that at these events, allegedly increasingly popular among adolescents, females wearing various shades of lipstick take turns fellating males in sequence, leaving multiple colors (a "rainbow") on their penises.
Oh dear gosh our children are in trouble! It's a good thing Oprah was there to expose this trend.

Certainly, almost any sexual practice that can be imagined stands a good chance of having been tried somewhere, sometime. But many sex researchers and adolescent-health professionals say that rainbow parties are not a big part of teenage sexual behavior.

"This 'phenomenon' has all the classic hallmarks of a moral panic," said Dr. Deborah Tolman, director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University. "One day we have never heard of rainbow parties and then suddenly they are everywhere, feeding on adults' fears that morally bankrupt sexuality among younger teens is rampant, despite any actual evidence, as well as evidence to the contrary."
But teenage girls + oral sex = ratings gold. Again, Ms. Winfrey isn't appealing to Americans' intelligence, is she? This is an appeal to darkness. And it's part of a pattern for Ms. Winfrey.

Regularly, she promotes pseudoscience and lies as fact on her show. She was a big proponent of an offensive fad called "The Secret," which was a philosophy that basically said that if you get cancer, you did something to deserve it.
The main idea of "The Secret" is that people need only visualize what they want in order to get it -- and the book certainly has created instant wealth, at least for Rhonda Byrne and her partners-in-con. And the marketing idea behind it -- the enlisting of that dream team, in what is essentially a massive, cross-promotional pyramid scheme -- is brilliant. But what really makes "The Secret" more than a variation on an old theme is the involvement of Oprah Winfrey, who lends the whole enterprise more prestige, and, because of that prestige, more venality, than any previous self-help scam. Oprah hasn't just endorsed "The Secret"; she's championed it, put herself at the apex of its pyramid, and helped create a symbiotic economy of New Age quacks that almost puts OPEC to shame.

Why "venality"? Because, with survivors of Auschwitz still alive, Oprah writes this about "The Secret" on her Web site, "the energy you put into the world -- both good and bad -- is exactly what comes back to you. This means you create the circumstances of your life with the choices you make every day." "Venality," because Oprah, in the age of AIDS, is advertising a book that says, "You cannot 'catch' anything unless you think you can, and thinking you can is inviting it to you with your thought." "Venality," because Oprah, from a studio within walking distance of Chicago's notorious Cabrini Green Projects, pitches a book that says, "The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts."
She also had the author of a piece of bulls hit called The Bible Code on for a full-hour commercial.

The Bible Code supposedly shows that the Bible is full of "secret" messages imparted by god in which the future is revealed. It was pretty thoroughly debunked, even before the author appeared on Ms. Winfrey's show.
The promoters of hidden-message claims say, “How could such amazing coincidences be the product of random chance?” I think the real question should be, “How could such coincidences not be the inevitable product of a huge sequence of trials on a large, essentially random database?”

Once I learned how to navigate in puzzle-space, finding “incredible” predictions became a routine affair. I found “comet,” “Hale,” and “Bopp” linked in KJV Genesis, along with “forty” and “died,” which could be interpreted as an obvious reference to Heaven’s Gate. I found “Trinity,” “Los Alamos,” “atom,” and “bomb” encoded together in Edwards, in a section containing references to “security,” “test,” and “anti-fascist.” And I found “Hitler” linked to “Nazi” dozens of times in several books. When I set out to engineer a “hidden code” link of “code” and “bogus” in KJV Genesis, I was able to produce sixty closely linked pairs. And every single one of these pairs could fit inside a reasonably sized puzzle.

The source of the mysterious “Bible code” has been revealed — it’s homo sapiens.

Now somebody go tell Oprah.
Ms. Winfrey also recently made a deal to produce a television program starring the irritating nude model and filmmaker Jenny McCarthy, who claims to know more about autism than the scientists who have dedicated their lives to its study.
McCarthy's way, however, is one that flies in the face of all credible research on what does and does not cause autism and whether it can be treated. McCarthy claims Evan was healed through a range of experimental and unproved biomedical treatments; even more controversially, she blames the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine for giving her son autism. And yet research conclusively shows that vaccines are safe for children; just last month, the U.K. scientist who had published a study linking the MMR shot to autism was found by a British medical panel to have acted unethically. McCarthy says she does not believe all vaccines are bad — though she swears she will never allow Evan to receive another — nor is she saying you shouldn't vaccinate your child. Her position is more slippery but just as heretical to prevailing medical wisdom: do everything necessary to cure your child, no matter what the doctors tell you.
Ms. McCarthy is the most famous of the anti-vaccine crusaders, whose actions have led to a direct rise in the number of preventable illnesses and death caused by parents refusing to vaccinate their children.

And she also had former "Three's Company" star Suzanne Somers on her show to tell her viewers all about her amazing vitamin and bio-identical hormone diet.
"Many people write Suzanne off as a quackadoo," she said. "But she just might be a pioneer." Oprah acknowledged that Somers's claims "have been met with relentless criticism" from doctors. Several times during the show she gave physicians an opportunity to dispute what Somers was saying. But it wasn't quite a fair fight. The doctors who raised these concerns were seated down in the audience and had to wait to be called on. Somers sat onstage next to Oprah, who defended her from attack. "Suzanne swears by bioidenticals and refuses to keep quiet. She'll take on anyone, including any doctor who questions her."

That would be a lot of doctors. Outside Oprah's world, there isn't a raging debate about replacing hormones. Somers "is simply repackaging the old, discredited idea that menopause is some kind of hormone-deficiency disease, and that restoring them will bring back youth," says Dr. Nanette Santoro, director of reproductive endocrinology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and head of the Reproductive Medicine Clinic at Montefiore Medical Center. They just don't need as much once they get past their childbearing years. Unless a woman has significant discomfort from hot flashes—and most women don't—there is little reason to prescribe them. Most women never use them. Hormone therapy can increase a woman's risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and cancer. And despite Somers's claim that her specially made, non-FDA-approved bioidenticals are "natural" and safer, they are actually synthetic, just like conventional hormones and FDA-approved bioidenticals from pharmacies—and there are no conclusive clinical studies showing they are less risky. That's why endocrinologists advise that women take the smallest dose that alleviates symptoms, and use them only as long as they're needed.

"It completely blew me away that Oprah would go to her for advice on this topic," says Cynthia Pearson, the executive director of the nonprofit National Women's Health Network and an authority on hormone therapy. "I have to say, it diminished my respect."
Does Oprah Winfrey genuinely believe in the intelligence of the American public? Her entire career says otherwise.

Actually, she doesn't really believe in the intelligence of the American public.

1 comment:

A.Jaye said...

Oprah Winfrey perpetuates the negative stereotype of Americans at least in this country. If you can get a studio audience of adults to sit down and listen to tripe like 'The Secret' from "a studio within walking distance of Chicago's notorious Cabrini Green" then your beliefs are self serving.

One can only surmise it is the indoctrination of the American Dream mythos that affords a whole nation the delusion of wealth and fame as opposed to personal happiness and fulfilment.

She's either being disingenious or she's being snarky.

TFi: It's not just you lot with a dumb down populace. But Americans do it bigger.