Our most effective U.S. presidents—and keep in mind, I’m saying “most effective,” not “best”—possessed, to one degree or another, a certain measure of indifference to human life. Whether you’re preserving the Union, inciting a World War, incinerating a couple hundred thousand Japs, or getting up to some mischief in a Tonkin Gulf, indifference to human life is kind of a must. Reckless indifference is helpful, but depraved indifference? Now, that’s the stuff of presidential legend.
There’s a lot of buzz at the moment about a possible Oprah Winfrey White House bid in 2020. It started after the talk-show maven gave an “inspirational” speech at the Golden Globes, and already, Hollywood heavy hitters are throwing their massive weight behind hers. An impressive 47% of Democrats think an Oprah candidacy is a dandy idea. But, as always, there are naysayers! And I’m not just talking about Republicans, who are of course against the idea because racism! No, I’m talking about naysayers on the left, Democrats who love Oprah but don’t think she has the “stuff” to be president. “She’s inexperienced,” is the common refrain. “Oprah is great at what she does, but it’s doubtful she has the necessary requirements and abilities to be a good president.”
Hogwash! Oprah is practically defined by her depraved indifference to human life. During the course of her storied career, Oprah has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to put any number of lives at risk for the sake of her show’s ratings, and I have no doubt she’d be willing to do the same for the sake of her political agenda were she to become president. I mean, after all, what’s the No. 1 conspiracy theory that’s dogged Bill and Hillary Clinton for the past quarter century? That they have no problem bumping off or “suiciding” stubborn foes and inconvenient allies. But it may well be that, compared with Oprah, the Clintons are mere pikers when it comes to the blithe acceptance of the fact that sometimes folks just gotta get dead.
I’ll illustrate my point with a few examples of Oprah at her finest.
Sweeps week, May 1988. Oprah was obsessed with besting her fellow trash-hosts Phil Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael, and Geraldo Rivera, so she decided to run a nice, juicy, salacious episode about autoerotic asphyxiation. The show explored the “tragedy” of teens who died whacking off while depriving themselves of air, and even as Oprah stressed that you should never, ever do this terrible thing, her panel of “experts” painted a picture of a stimulating fetish that produces “light-headed giddiness” that “can affect the sexual pleasure center of the brain.”
Oh, they make it sound so unappealing!
Oprah was warned against doing the episode by forensic psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz, who told her point-blank that “if the show were aired, it would foreseeably result in one or more deaths.” Dietz went so far as to warn the Great O that he would testify against her should she be sued by the family of someone who died imitating the behavior described on the show. And guess what? At least one young man died imitating the behavior described on the show! John Holm of Thousand Oaks, California, was found asphyxiated in his dad’s garage, the TV still tuned to the channel that had broadcast Oprah’s show.
One down, many more to go!
In 1990, Oprah hosted an episode titled “Bad Influence Friends,” in which an emotionally troubled young man named Mike LaCalamita was held up for ridicule for being flirty and irresponsible. The harpy-filled studio audience booed and hissed at Mike as if he were a sideshow freak, and the onscreen chyrons mocked him as he tried to speak in his defense. Following his appearance on the show, Mike was mercilessly bullied in the street by Oprah’s loyal viewers, and two weeks after the episode aired, his father found him hangin’ from a ceiling fan. “I know in my heart that Oprah’s show killed my son,” the elder LaCalamita told reporters.
One of Oprah’s biggest hits dropped in 1989. According to biographer Kitty Kelley, Oprah had made it clear to her staff that during sweeps, she demanded “bang, bang, shoot-’em-up shows.” And in May ’89, boy oh boy, did she hit pay dirt! Oprah decided to get in on the ground floor of the “satanic ritual child abuse” witch-hunt hysteria. Sticking to her MO of exploiting mentally unstable people, Oprah interviewed a troubled conspiracy loon with “multiple personality disorder” named Vicki Polin (who used the pseudonym Rachel on the show). Polin claimed to have been forced to eat babies for Satan and a bunch of other nonsense that never happened. Midway through the interview, Oprah decided to point out that Vicki’s satanic family was Jewish. This led to the following exchange:
Oprah: “And this is a…does everyone else think it’s a nice Jewish family? From the outside you appear to be a nice Jewish girl…. And you are all worshiping the devil inside the home?”
Polin: “Right. There’s other Jewish families across the country. It’s not just my own family.”
Oprah: “Really? And so who knows about it? Lots of people now!” [Audience laughter]
Polin: “I talked to a police detective in the Chicago area….”
Oprah: “So when you were brought up in this kind of evilness did you just think it was normal?”
Polin: “There would be rituals in which babies would be sacrificed.”
To be clear, all the other daytime talk shows jumped on the “satanic ritual abuse” bandwagon as well, but Oprah was the only one to make it about Jews, with no concern for how this idiotic falsehood might impact ordinary Jewish folks (for whatever it’s worth, statistics showed an apparent rise in anti-Jewish hate crimes in the second half of ’89). Oprah met privately with Jewish leaders to hear their grievances, but she steadfastly refused to make an on-air apology for the misinformation she presented. So to those on the far right who may be tempted to dismiss Oprah as good presidential material, keep in mind, here’s someone who resurrected the Jewish blood libel, broadcast it to 7.6 million homes, and refused to cave to the demands of Jewish groups to publicly apologize. Winfrey/Duke 2020?
But Jews aside, untold numbers of innocent people suffered as a result of the satanic ritual child abuse hysteria drummed up by Winfrey and her fellow TV muck-meisters. Indeed, the list of people falsely accused during the satanic abuse witch-hunt era is so long, it would take the remainder of this column to list just the most egregious examples (like the Kellers, a Texas couple who spent a staggering 21 years behind bars for “satanic abuse” before being fully exonerated).
But hey—Oprah got her ratings, so all is well.