Sara Stewart of the NY Post has an excellent brief summary of Oprah Winfrey's past 25 years as one of the most influential TV talk show moguls in history.
There is no doubt that the so-called "Oprah Effect" has shaped the consciousness of many and influenced popular culture. But as Stewart points out, "occasionally, that influence has backfired."
The “Oprah effect” has shaped our national consciousness in profound ways. “There are a lot of people whose lives are better, thanks to what she’s done,” says Robert Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. “Her whole message of empowerment is the idea that you can change your circumstances.”
Occasionally, however, that influence has seriously misfired.
“Oprah has mainstreamed a lot of very questionable characters in my opinion,” anti-cult therapist Steven Hassan has said, pointing to Oprah acolyte James Arthur Ray whose infamous sweat lodge led to the deaths of three people in 2009.
The megalithic TV host and producer has also arguably helped to foster an unprecedented level of national narcisissm, and a mass susceptibility to snake-oil salesmen disguised as self-improvement gurus. She’s given a national platform to controversial topics, such as the “link” between childhood vaccines and autism, which have had ramifications far beyond the Nielsen ratings.
As Stewart notes: "No single American personality in recent years has influenced our culture as pervasively as Oprah Winfrey.
But Oprah's celebration of mediocrity, her lack of true insight into her own failings, and her inability to see past the tip of her grandiose nose will forever mark her as one of the biggest narcissists in the history of television.