On Monday, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro appeared on Fox News "The Story with Martha MacCallum" to discuss the feverish response to Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes on Sunday night that elicited calls for her to run for president.
MacCallum broached the subject of a possible Winfrey candidacy, saying that for her to run against President Trump would bring things to a “whole new level.”
No question. Oprah Winfrey is the most well-known person on the planet Earth outside of President Trump, so you’d have two of the most high-profile people in American history battling it out. She obviously is another self-made billionaire; she has cultivated particularly female audiences for thirty years; she’s a television star; she has a really great personal story.
On the other hand, she’s a conspiracy theorist; she’s on the far-Left, and her image as sort of a uniter, not a divider, would really take a hit were she to get political.
It’s one thing for President Trump, who basically has been hit with every piece of mud and emerged unscathed, to run for reelection; Oprah Winfrey is basically seen as this almost angelic figure in American pop culture. If she is hit at all with any sort of scandal, it may not affect her quite the same way. If you want to move from a place where 90% of people love you to a place where 50% of people hate you, quickly move into politics.
MacCallum commented that Trump had seen something like that himself. She then asked if it was necessary to be a celebrity to run for president.
I think there’s truth to that. I think the idea that high name recognition makes a difference, particularly in primaries, is absolutely true. Can you imagine Oprah Winfrey losing primaries to Joe Biden? I can’t. I think that if Oprah Winfrey runs against a bunch of typical Democratic politicians, they’d have a very hard time knocking her out of the race. Obviously, Republicans couldn’t knock Donald Trump out of the race and he was less of a celebrity than Oprah Winfrey is.
I think it’s because Americans have this sort of dual track mind when it comes to what they think the president does. On the one hand we think that the president is there to do policy and engage in policy we like. And then there’s really what we think the president does, which is say stuff. When we think of people who say stuff, we tend to think of celebrities, people who are on our TV’s all the time. We think of these people as sort of the figureheads on the prow of the ship of state.
And in that sense, if there are people who are very famous, and we’ve already made our decisions about them, it’s a lot easier for them to survive the slings and arrows than politicians who we may not have ever heard of and can be taken down with a single scandal. Remember, in 2012, Rick Perry was basically knocked out of the primaries because he had mandated that Gardisil be used, a vaccine for a particular type of cancer for young girls. That knocked him out of the primaries in 2012. Donald Trump got hit with everything including the kitchen sink and he won the election.
MacCallum posited that as opposed to Trump, who had to face a field of 16 other candidates, if Oprah ran, because she would be so popular, the Democrats would get out of her way.
I think that’s true and I think Democrats also have a way of anointing candidates that Republicans simply have not had. In 2016, obviously they anointed Hillary Clinton. In 2008, they thought about anointing Hillary Clinton, and then Oprah Winfrey is the person who helped pushed Barack Obama over that finish line. So I think the chances are actually pretty good that if Oprah decided to run, she’d win the nomination.
In a general election, I do have my doubts as to whether she’d actually defeat the president. The last poll that I saw was from March and it showed Oprah defeating Trump something like 47 to 40, but those aren’t incredible numbers for Oprah. She has, I think , 49% approval versus 33% disapproval. Wait till she actually has to go through a political cycle or two and see how those numbers hold up.
MacCallum asked Shapiro about his perspective that Winfrey was not particularly brave when she made her much-touted comments at the Golden Globes on Sunday night.
Shapiro said bluntly:
What the hell kind of risk was she taking? She was standing in front of an entire town filled with sexual abusers and harassers. She said nothing about it for 20 years; she was being cheered by people who said nothing about it for 20 years, and there she is pretending that she’s leading the fight.
In what way has she led the fight? I sort of missed it. And just because she said some stuff last night, I haven’t seen how things have materially changed. Reese Witherspoon was mentioning that she measures things before Oprah and after Oprah. What changed after Oprah? Oprah said a bunch of stuff.
Well, I was under the impression that most of us agreed with that stuff when this stuff first broke and she lauded the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Where were they reporting on the sexual harassment and abuse scandal for the last 20 years? It has literally their job to cover Hollywood and yet it took The New Yorker and Ronan Farrow to uncover all this stuff. Where was the Hollywood Press Association that was receiving such plaudits at the hands of Oprah Winfrey, again, a woman who was good friends with Harvey Weinstein, being cheered by Meryl Streep, a woman who gave a standing ovation to Roman Polanski?