Oprah Winfrey interviews Sun-Times Page One Editor James Smith during her talk show Friday in Chicago.
In the wake of a historic political season - one in which Oprah Winfrey endorsed a presidential candidate for the first time -- the talk-show diva also endorsed recent editions of the Chicago Sun-Times as her favorites that captured Barack Obama's historic win.
In honor of that, Winfrey welcomed Sun-Times Page One Editor James Smith to Friday's "Oprah Winfrey Show" for an interview.
Winfrey made no secret of her admiration for the Chicago Sun-Times' string of Obama-related front pages Friday saying the Sun-Times has been "spot on" with its coverage during President Obama's historic White House run.
"I love to check out front pages of newspapers from all over the country and find my favorites and at least three times during these historic last three months my hometown paper -- the Chicago Sun-Times -- has been spot on," Winfrey told viewers before her interview with Smith.
"The photos and headlines have been elegant, and simple and gorgeous," Winfrey said.
Winfrey showcased three of her favorite covers on the show, including the paper's post-election edition, the historic meeting of the Obamas and Bushes at the White House and the inauguration edition.
"I came downstairs in my lobby and saw [the election edition with Barack Obama's picture in black and white] and I got chills," she said.
Smith, the mastermind behind the front page of the newspaper, said it's a collaborative effort among the staff.
"I was scared to death with [the Mr. President cover]," Smith told Winfrey.
"Are you kidding, this is the one, this is the one," she responded.
Winfrey then asked Smith why he felt that way.
"Mainly, because the journalism police tell us that when an event like this happens, we have to use a live news photo -- something from the Grant Park celebration -- something everybody else would have," he said. "But when you grow up admiring Muhammad Ali, you've got to shake up the world, and that's what we wanted to do."
Smith said told Winfrey his family is his biggest inspiration and focus group, and that his mom helped him come up with the idea for the election edition.
"About a month before the election, she felt the connection like many Americans between Barack [Obama] and Abraham Lincoln," Smith said. "'Is there anything you can tie in Obama and Abraham Lincoln?'" his mom asked.
It inspired Smith to think of the iconic image of Abraham Lincoln taken by Alexander Gardner where Lincoln is looking straight into the camera, Smith told Winfrey.
"That inspired me to search for a photo of Barack that was similar -- and for the grace of God we found one," Smith said. "And the headline, you think about everybody with that title before this man, and how they've looked."
Winfrey asked Smith what was the inspiration behind Wednesday's front page cover with the headline "So help me God."
"We felt that the most powerful message were the ending words of the Oath of Office," Smith said. "It could be our reflection on to him, it could be his reflection onto us."
Winfrey also praised Smith's "Welcome" cover featuring the Barack and Michelle Obama's first meeting at the White House with the Bushes.
"This warmed my heart when I saw this," Winfrey said. "Even now I could tear up. It's powerful."
"We wanted something that reflected the beauty of America and the peaceful transition from one presidency to another. When I thought about the word 'welcome', this was a house built by slaves, and now we're taking this house and saying 'welcome' to your home," Smith said.
Winfrey said she wasn't sure at first about Smith's cover Thursday with a picture of Obama in the Oval Office with the headline "Seeing is believing," but said all she hears from people when she runs into them is a variation of that headline.
"We're over the euphoria," Smith said. "We had a moment with all the Pomp and Circumstance, the partying, the celebrations -- now it's time for business," Smith said. "This is real -- it happened."
Winfrey -- who was in Colorado for Obama's nomination acceptance speech -- hadn't seen the newspaper's front page of that moment until today and said it, too, would have been one of her all-time favorites.
That edition featured pictures of Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr. in a wrap-around front page.