Forewarned is forearmed: I'm a fan of Oprah Winfrey's. If I wasn't, I wouldn't blog about her. I wouldn't watch her show every day and I wouldn't hold her to a certain respect for whats she's accomplished for herself, and more importantly, others.
That said, call me biased all you want after reading this, but just because I have respect for Winfrey, doesn't cloud my judgment when it comes to the Oprah/Sarah Palin flap that's been brewing since last week.
Winfrey's been - and still is being - blasted by right-wing conservatives and bloggers about her decision not to have Republican veep candidate Sarah Palin on her show during the election season. Many have called her biased. Others say she's being unfair.
I say get over it.
The controversy in a nut-graph. A posting on the Drudge report last week claimed Winfrey's staff had been divided over whether to have Palin on the show. "Half of her staff really wants Sarah Palin on," an unidentified source told Drudge. "Oprah's Web site is getting tons of requests to put her on, but Oprah and a couple of her top people are adamantly against it because of Obama."
That posting gave the manufactured controversy a life of its own.
Responding to the criticism - something Winfrey rarely does - she issued the following statement to viewers and critics:
"The item in today's Drudge Report is categorically untrue," Winfrey said in a surprise response last week. "There has been absolutely no discussion about having Sarah Palin on my show. At the beginning of this presidential campaign when I decided that I was going to take my first public stance in support of a candidate, I made the decision not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates. I agree that Sarah Palin would be a fantastic interview, and I would love to have her on after the campaign is over."
You think it would have ended there. It didn't.
Everyone who's everyone has weighed in on the "controversy" - and now a Republican women's group is boycotting Winfrey, her show, her magazine, her existence, calling her biased for not having Palin on her show.
I agree completely - Palin would make a great interview. And so would John McCain, Joe Biden and Barack Obama. Heck, while we're at it, Hillary Clinton would make a great interview. But because Winfrey isn't showcasing this year's round of political contenders on her show, she's all of a sudden turned "biased."
Come on, folks.
Here's the facts:
• Winfrey hasn't had ANY of the political candidates on her show - so why should she start with Palin?
• Yes, it's a fact she's thrown her support behind Obama - something she's never done publicly for any political candidate. That doesn't make her show biased. Election issues haven't crept up anywhere in her show this season, and she's made a pledge to not let them.
• Winfrey doesn't pretend to be Bill O'Reilly or Anderson Cooper. Let's say for a second she IS biased. So what? It's her show. She doesn't work for a news network like CNN or FOX - she can have whoever she wants - or doesn't want - on her show.
Would Winfrey be criticized for not having Palin on the show if she wasn't personally supporting Obama? Not in the least.
A source of mine at the Oprah show calls this manufactured controversy just that - and isn't worried that it won't blow over.
And nether am I.
With all the issues on the table this election season, this seems like a clear non-issue.
Almost 4,500 Republican women in Florida say they'll boycott Winfrey because of her "bias" and say it's "unclear" what effect Winfrey's "bias" will have on her ratings and magazine circulation.
I doubt it will have any - and most of those 4,500 women will be back watching Winfrey before you and I both know it.