Tag Archives: Oprah Winfrey

It was 20 years ago … Oprah won a big victory

Now that we’re all agog over Oprah Winfrey and whether she’ll run for president of the United States — which I hope doesn’t happen — let’s flash back for a moment when the media mogul came to the Texas Panhandle for an extended stay.

Oprah had gotten herself sued by Texas cattlemen over remarks she and others made on her TV talk show. She had an animal rights activist on her show in the spring of 1996 talking about bovine spongiform encephalopathy, aka Mad Cow Disease, suggesting that improperly cooked beef could lead to the potentially fatal disease.

That’s it, Oprah blurted. She said the discussion “has just stopped me cold from eating another burger. I’m stopped.”

The cattlemen, led by legendary Panhandle cattle baron Paul Engler, were furious. So was then-Texas Agriculture Commissioner Rick Perry. Engler ended up suing Winfrey. He took her to federal court right here in Amarillo, Texas.

Oprah decided to move her TV show here, too. She rented the Amarillo Little Theater, had it redone to suit her show’s format. She played to packed houses every night after sitting in a courtroom all day — for weeks on end!

The Texas Tribune reports that the community was “split” about the trial and the reason for the lawsuit. Some folks thought the remarks on TV were out of line, according to the Tribune. Others applauded Oprah, given her high public standing in the community at large.

My recollection at the time was that Amarillo opened its arms to Winfrey and her staff. Her show was immensely popular among those who wanted to see it in person at the ALT. I heard stories about how phone lines choked up and damn near croaked with heavy call loads from people looking for tickets. I heard one anecdotal story about how someone called his or her family in the Dakotas, who then called the ALT for ticket information — because the the local caller couldn’t get a call through to the theater office.

Well, Oprah won a victory. The federal court jury dismissed the lawsuit. She stood in front of the courthouse in early 1998  in downtown Amarillo and cheered her hard-won — and deserved — courthouse victory.

Oprah Winfrey likely would have rather spent her time elsewhere than in Amarillo two decades ago defending herself in a lawsuit brought by some cranky cattlemen. My recollection, though, is that she was treated like the TV royalty she was at the time.

She won many more friends than foes here. Those were the days …

This just in: Oprah won’t run in 2020

This “scoop” comes from a member of my family: “You don’t need to worry about Oprah running for president; she isn’t going to do it.”

There you have it. Why? Because Oprah Winfrey isn’t going to give up being the world’s most powerful and revered woman. She isn’t going to expose herself to the denigration that would await her if she were to run against Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump Sr.

She won’t “lower herself” to Trump’s level, my family member said.

So, is that what will happen? I’m inclined to believe the assessment I have received.

I am no expert. I am no soothsayer. I cannot predict what celebrities will do. I once said publicly that former first lady Hillary Clinton wouldn’t run for the U.S. Senate in 2000. Wrong!

Winfrey brought ’em to their feet at the Golden Globes show this past weekend. She roared that “a new day is on the horizon!” Women no longer will be intimidated, shamed, abused, assaulted by men, she said. Hmm. Did she have anyone in mind? Oh, wait! Maybe it’s the president of the United States!

But … my family member believes Oprah won’t enter the 2020 presidential contest.

“She’ll go to her grave with her incredible wealth and reputation intact,” she said.

I’m good with that.

Get a clue, Ivanka

First, I will stipulate that I do not subscribe to the statement attributed to former White House strategist Stephen Bannon in the “Fire and Fury” book that Ivanka Trump is “dumb as a brick.”

The first daughter, though, seems to be tone deaf. Politically, that is.

Oprah Winfrey got the Golden Globes crowd all worked up Sunday night with that speech in which she declared to women around the nation that a “new day is on the horizon!”

Ivanka then weighed in with a tweet that endorsed Winfrey’s “empowering and inspiring” speech.

Uhh, oops!

The speech was seen by many as a first shot in the 2020 presidential campaign. Oprah might be considering a run for president against, um, Ivanka’s father, Donald Trump Sr., the president of the United States.

Here is where I’ll note that Ivanka stood by Dad when those women came forward to accuse him of sexual abuse, assault, harassment. She has said in public that the president is women’s most powerful ally; Ivanka has drawn scorn for saying that, too.

Now she endorses Oprah’s speech and the “Me Too” movement, while standing by her father?

Ivanka isn’t “dumb as a brick.” She does need re-calibrate her political antennae.

Celebrity candidates for POTUS?

Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States has ushered in a new era in American politics.

It’s the Era of Celebrity Candidates.

The latest such celeb to rise to the top is none other than Oprah Winfrey, who brought ’em to their feet Sunday night at the Golden Globes award show. Her fellow entertainers are all agog at the prospect of Oprah running for president against the incumbent.

Indeed, Trump once told talk show host Larry King that Oprah Winfrey would be his ideal running mate. In 1999, Trump called Winfrey a “very special woman,” “really fantastic.” Do you think he’d say the same thing now? Don’t answer that.

More celebrities set to run for POTUS? Oh, please

I’ve heard the names of other celebrities mentioned. The actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and singer and celebrity husband Kanye West to name just three. Doesn’t just make your heart start fluttering? Me, neither.

Trump’s election brought the country to a new threshold. It teaches us that anyone can be elected president. I mean, if someone with no understanding of government, or any interest in learning about it, or someone with the load of personal baggage that Trump packed around can get elected, then anyone can.

Has the president’s election in 2016 unleashed a horde of celebrities who want to follow his footsteps into the Oval Office.

I sincerely hope we can catch our breath long enough to ponder whether any such candidate has what it takes to do the most difficult job on Earth.

The current celebrity officeholder keeps demonstrating — at least to yours truly’s mind — that he is not up to the task.

Oprah in 2020? Umm, no thank you

Oprah Winfrey has just elevated herself into the discussion of possible presidential candidates for 2020.

I want to douse this notion with a tanker full of cold water.

Do not do this, Oprah!

The talk-show queen/billionaire businesswoman/partisan activist brought the house down Sunday night at the Golden Globe award ceremony. No more “me too!” she bellowed. Men who abuse women no longer will be tolerated, she exclaimed. Their time is up, she said.

Some pundits suggest that was the start of her campaign for president. I am presuming she would run as a Democrat.

Pleeeaase! No!

The United States of America already has elected someone with zero political experience. Donald Trump parlayed a successful real estate career into a successful reality TV show, when then led to his successful presidential campaign in 2016. He has spent his entire professional life for one purpose only: personal enrichment. He has succeeded. Trump then managed to persuade enough voters in battleground states that he was the man for the job.

Trump has demonstrated what we’ve all thought, which is that “anyone can be elected president.” I do not want just anyone to hold the nation’s highest, most exalted public office.

I am kind of old-fashioned in this regard. I want my president to take office with at least some semblance of government/public service experience. Trump had none of it. His lack of government experience — let alone knowledge of government– has been shown repeatedly during his first year in office.

What in the world does Oprah Winfrey bring to this discussion? Nothing of substance. Not a single thing.

She is an iconic figure to millions of Americans. Winfrey didn’t inherit any of her parents’ money to get started. She worked her way to uber-wealthy status on her own. She was abused as a girl. She came from poverty. Winfrey is a commendable celebrity.

However, she is a celebrity. Winfrey stands on a platform from which she can bring change. She is no more qualified than Donald J. Trump to become commander in chief, the head of state, head of government and leader of the Free World.

One more time: Don’t run for president, Oprah.

Judge Robinson leaves gigantic legacy on Panhandle bench

Donald J. Trump has nominated someone to succeed a living legend among jurists in the Texas Panhandle.

It’s been slow going for the president of the United States as he has sought to make these appointments. I won’t get into the reasons for the snail’s pace in making these appointments. But the president finally made a pick for the U.S. District judgeship here in Amarillo, Texas.

Matthew Kacsmaryk is the president’s choice to become judge of the federal bench in Amarillo. I don’t know much about him, other than I understand he’s a rigid judicial conservative. According to the Texas Observer, he has worked to erode the wall separating government from organized religion.

Read the Observer story here.

U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson took senior status more than a year ago. She has earned it. She’s 91 years of age. Judge Robinson served on the 7th Texas Court of Appeals and on a Potter County bench before getting the call by — get ready for this one — President Jimmy Carter in 1979 to assume a newly created federal judgeship in Amarillo.

I didn’t get to watch Robinson in action during her years on the bench. I watched her from some distance as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News.

I became quite riveted when she was handed a celebrity trial in 1997 when a group of cattle feeders sued TV talk show superstar Oprah Winfrey because of a remark she blurted out on TV about eating beef. The cattle feeders agreed to let Robinson try the case in Amarillo. Winfrey brought her talk-show crew here and videotaped her talk show at Amarillo Little Theater.

Winfrey beat back the lawsuit. She won. Judge Robinson ruled from the bench against the cattle feeders. Amarillo made the evening news all across the land.

I don’t know Robinson well. We are acquainted, certainly. We both served in the same Rotary Club for a number of years. But she isn’t the most media-friendly person I’ve ever known.

What I want to point out, though, is this: I long ago lost count of the number of county and state judicial candidates who sought the Globe-News editorial board’s endorsement and who said they wanted to pattern their behavior on the bench after Judge Mary Lou Robinson.

Judge Robinson became the gold standard for judges in this part of the world. For 38 years she issued federal court rulings with toughness and fairness. Her total judicial career spans more than 50 years.

Imagine that for a moment. Candidates for a public office that demands supreme confidence defer to one of their own who has set a standard they all want to emulate.

That is a tremendous legacy.

More celebrities set to run for POTUS? Oh, please

Donald John Trump’s election as president of the United States was unprecedented at many levels.

He had never held public office; he was a TV celebrity and real estate mogul who slapped his name on seemingly every high-rise being built in the past two decades; he’s been married three times and has bragged about his infidelities.

But he’s the man. Now we hear plenty of chatter out here in the peanut gallery about other first-time pols — who also happen to be celebrities — pondering whether they want to run for the presidency.

Spare me! Spare the country! Please say we aren’t about to get more of this ridiculousness.

Kanye West has said something about running in 2020.

Oprah Winfrey has been mentioned as a possibility. Oprah? She’s far more preferable than Kanye “Kim K’s Husband” West … but, really?

Oh, how about Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook? This youngster isn’t even old enough to run for the office  — but he will be by the time 2020 rolls around. He, too, has gotten a mention by some of the TV talking heads.

I’m a bit old-fashioned in this regard. I happen to think experience with government and politics is a valuable commodity on which to run for the highest office in the land. I also like the notion of politicians having a record of public service to reveal to the public whose votes they would be seeking.

Trump didn’t bring any of that to the 2016 presidential campaign. I guess he was blessed to be running against Hillary Rodham Clinton who, it turns out, became a terrible candidate. The irony in all of this is that the “smart money” thought the tables would have been turned, that Hillary had been “blessed” with getting to run against someone so patently unqualified and unfit for the office that he ended up winning.

Who knew?

Trump is now the president and his presence on the world stage is creating a bit of buzz out in the land of other celebrities with no qualifications for the presidency; they, too might decide to become candidates.

Say it ain’t so. Someone. Please.

Puzder pulls out, thanks to ex-wife’s interview

Andrew Puzder shouldn’t have been nominated as labor secretary in the first place.

He favors automation; he opposes the minimum wage; he is no friend of the working man and woman.

None of that doomed his nomination. Oh, no! The death knell was rung when a decades-old videotape surfaced that shows Puzder’s former wife telling Oprah Winfrey that Puzder abused her. He threatened her, bullied her.

Puzder — a fast-food restaurant mogul — then pulled out.

Vetting, anyone?

I have blogged already about Donald Trump’s lack of vetting as he has looked for Cabinet officers. I thought the worry was overblown.

But here we are. A labor secretary who apparently hadn’t been vetted properly being done in by an old videotaped interview.

It appears that a lot more careful vetting of Puzder’s history could have prevented the president from suffering this embarrassing end to one of his Cabinet selections.

That presumes, of course, that Donald Trump would be embarrassed.

Recalling Sawyer hatchet job

Diane Sawyer is leaving the ABC News anchor chair. Her colleague David Muir is replacing her.

That’s fine. Sawyer did a good job as anchor since taking the job in 2009. She was thorough and fair and presented the news accordingly.

However, my strongest memory of the body of Sawyer’s work involves a very high-profile trial that occurred right here in Amarillo. The defendant in this civil case was a fairly well-known personality in her own right: Oprah Winfrey. You’ve heard of her, yes?

Well, Winfrey got sued by some cattlemen over a comment she blurted out in 1997 during her TV talk show. She was interviewing this expert on “mad cow disease.” The expert made a comment about how ill-prepared beef can spread the disease, to which Winfrey exclaimed, “No more burgers!”

The cattlemen sued. The case was tried at the federal courthouse in downtown Amarillo. U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson tossed part of the case out. The rest of it was settled in Winfrey’s favor.

Shortly after that, Winfrey appeared on ABC News and was interviewed by Diane Sawyer, who tried for all she was worth to get Winfrey to paint Amarillo as a city full of gun-slinging rednecks who were bound and determined to convict her of defamation.

Amarillo is a “tough town,” Sawyer said. Winfrey didn’t take the bait. She spoke well of the hospitality shown to her here while she was in court every day.

Winfrey taped her show at the Amarillo Little Theater at night after she spent a day in court. She sold the place out every night. She brought guests in and bantered with them about the day she had spent in a federal courtroom.

I found Sawyer’s treatment of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle offensive when I heard it. Oprah, though, was thoroughly gracious and grateful for (a) the decision that went in her favor and (b) for the treatment she got from the community that found itself in the national spotlight.

Whatever. I wish Diane Sawyer well as she goes on with the rest of her life.

I’ll wonder, though, if she’s ever watched that interview she did with Oprah and thought: You know, I kind of wish I could do that one all over.