A TV celebrity as president once seemed like a wacky idea, but those days are long gone. And after Sunday night’s Golden Globes Awards, there’s another name circling around as a future commander-in-chief: Oprah Winfrey.
It all started in Seth Meyers’ monologue opening up the night’s awards ceremony, where he referenced jokes he had made years ago about now-US President Donald Trump.
“In 2011 I told some jokes about our current president at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner – jokes about how he was unqualified to be president – and some have said that night convinced him to run,” said Meyers. “So if that’s true, I just want to say: Oprah, you will never be president! You do not have what it takes! And Hanks! Where is Hanks? You will never be vice president! You are too mean and unrelatable. Now we just wait and see.”
Later, Winfrey, the icon and former talk-show host, took the stage to accept the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement – becoming the first African-American woman to ever receive it. Her impassioned speech quickly became one of the most buzz-creating moments of the evening.
She recalled as a little girl watching when Sidney Poitier won best actor at the Oscars in 1964, the first black man to do so.
“It is not lost on me that at this moment there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award,” she said. “It is an honor, and it is a privilege to share the evening with all of them, and also with the incredible men and women who’ve inspired me, who’ve challenged me, who’ve sustained me and made my journey to this stage possible.”
Later, Winfrey addressed the most talked-about topic of the evening – sexual harassment and assault, in Hollywood and around the globe.
“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have,” she said. “And I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories.
Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell. And this year we became the story. But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry.
It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics or workplace.”
She added: “I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight – and some pretty phenomenal men – fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘me too’ again.”
Considering the reality of the White House today, it didn’t take long before social media was buzzing with talk of Winfrey running for president in 2020.
NBC, which aired the awards show live, tweeted out a gif of Winfrey with the words: “Nothing but respect for OUR future president.”
And the talk only ratcheted up a level after Winfrey’s longtime partner, Stedman Graham, told a reporter for The Los Angeles Times who asked about a potential run that: “it’s up to the people; she would absolutely do it.”
A Politico article Monday morning wrapping up the news of the weekend asked: “Why not? We bet she has pretty high approval ratings among, well, everyone.
She’s universally known.
She’d raise the money quite easily. She’s a billionaire, so she could say she has business chops. Imagine Donald Trump talking trash about Oprah! Quite frankly, there isn’t any clear Democratic favorite that would clear the field at the moment. Don’t count someone like her out.”
CNN media reporter Brian Stelter also explored the idea in his Reliable Sources newsletter Monday morning.
A couple of things to keep in mind, he wrote: “When Oprah became a 60 Minutes contributor last year, I took it as a sign that she might run.
Why? Because ‘60’ gave her a huge platform to reconnect with the public.”
He also noted that she sold half her stake in her TV network, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), to Discovery Communications, reducing her holding to 25% and making $70 million from the transaction – perhaps freeing up funds for a potential presidential run? While many social media users were enthralled at the notion, plenty also scoffed at the idea.
Huffington Post writer Yashar Ali wrote: “Oprah doesn’t want to run for President.
She’s made that pretty clear...
She’s got most of the non-governmental powers of a President and none of the hassle.”
And Luke O’Neil, an at-large writer for Hearst magazines, tweeted: “Oprah is very good and we all love her but I don’t want her or any other near-billionaire celebrity to be president ever again please and thank you.”
But New York Times political reporter Alex Burns couldn’t help but draft an imaginary news article in his head: “Still, Ms. Winfrey could face a difficult fight for the Democratic nomination, especially against _________,” he wrote.
“It is tough to finish that sentence.”