Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Obama's Hearst/Oprah Winfrey Connection

One of the Obama presidential campaign’s most influential and wealthiest supporters within the U.S. corporate media world—billionaire television talk-show host Oprah Winfrey—is a business partner of the Hearst Corporation media conglomerate that has attempted to monopolize mass media power in the U.S. for many years. As the 2004 book by Helen Garson, Oprah Winfrey: A Biography, observed:

“…In her magazine O, which she started in 2000 with the partnership of the Hearst Corporation, she emphasizes the possibilities of change…

“…Oprah’s magazine has been…successful from the very beginning…

“One of the most prominent bookseller chains in the country, Border’s, features O so prominently it would be difficult to get through the purchasing line without seeing the magazine as a special display…

“Oprah’s magazine was described by writer Patricia Sellers of Fortune as `the most successful magazine launch ever.’ Although it first appeared on U.S. newsstands in July 2000, it was expanded within the year to an international edition in June 2001. That edition is as glossy as the U.S. one and almost as huge…O is published jointly by the Hearst Corporation and Winfrey’s Harpo Entertainment Group. Following its American inaugural issue of 322 pages of extremely large print with a run of 1.6 million copies, the magazine grew to a readership of two and a half million within a short period of time. With annual revenues topping $140 million, it is a considerable part of the Harpo empire…”

And, according to a July 7, 2008 press release that was recently posted on the Hearst Corporation web site:

O, The Oprah Magazine..connects with more than 16 million readers every month…. O, The Oprah Magazine, which also publishes a South African edition, is a co-venture between Hearst Magazines, a unit of The Hearst Corporation, and Harpo Print, LLC. Hearst Magazines is a unit of Hearst Corporation and one of the world’s largest publishers of monthly magazines, with nearly 200 editions around the world, including 19 U.S. titles and 20 magazines in the United Kingdom, published through its wholly owned subsidiary, The National Magazine Company Limited. Hearst reaches more adults than any other publisher of monthly magazines (75.6 million total adults).”
The Hearst Corporation business partner and television talk show host who campaigned alongside Obama during the recent Democratic Party presidential primary season is, individually, now worth about $2.5 billion. And--unlike most people in the United States--Billionaire Winfrey has apparently not personally experienced much economic insecurity or economic hardship for many years. As Oprah Winfrey: A Biography by Helen Garson revealed in 2004:

“In 1971, during the Nixon administration, when two students from each state and from foreign countries were chosen to attend a White House Conference on Youth, Oprah was one of Tennessee’s representatives…

“She left college without her degree, moving on to another job in the media, becoming a…co-anchor of evening news at a Baltimore, Maryland, station. Although several biographies state that Oprah graduated from college in 1976, the fact is that she did not…

“The syndication of her show was the most significant step to stardom, because it made her a national and soon thereafter an international figure. Renaming the program as The Oprah Winfrey Show was the act of the King Brothers Corporation, a company owned by two very well-known distributors who had purchased the show in September 1986. They soon saw to it that the program was on 137 stations nationwide…

“The King Brothers, Robert and Michael, are white, middle-aged men…who inherited a…syndicate business when their father, Charlie King, died…Most of their clients have been…game shows…

“…Forbes listed her as being one of the wealthiest people in America, and in September 1993 tabulated her wealth as $98 million, higher than the $72 million of producer Steven Spielberg…Her wealth is also more than the $66 million of Bill Cosby…Ten years later, 2003, when Forbes ranked the 100 richest people in the world, Oprah made the list…

“By 1986 Oprah had enough money to buy…a penthouse condominium on the lakefront, with a view from the fifty-seventh floor…The apartment contains…crystal chandeliers…Her enjoyment of luxury also runs to a $100,000 BMW car…

“Today she owns three other homes; her home in Rolling Prairie, Indiana, is a 160-acre farm with a 40-acre meadow…and a $2 million house…There are thoroughbred horses on the farm; and an additional feature is a helicopter pad. A famed architect…designed the villa for her 85-acre ranch outside of Telluride, a Colorado ski area…A third house is a 42-acre, $50 million estate with a 23,000 square foot mansion in Montecito, California…Rumor suggests that Oprah paid for her California home with a personal check. She also owns several beachfront lots on the island of Maui in Hawaii…to get from one place to another easily, she bought a jet plane…

“Oprah’s growing wealth permitted her to make an even more important purchase. She acquired ownership and control of the Oprah Winfrey Show from the Chicago ABC-TV station WLS and formed the company Harpo, which she will not allow to go public…

“She is chairman and chief executive of the Harpo Entertainment Group…By the year 2002 Harpo was estimated by Fortune magazine to be worth $575 million, with Oprah as owner of 90 percent of the stock…

“…Barbra Streisand suggested that she have everyone who works for her sign privacy agreements…The result of following Streisand’s advice is that all information concerning Oprah’s operations is very limited and centrally controlled. Confidentiality is strongly pursued in all of Oprah’s undertakings. Even guests on her show or their families will not share information with outsiders, no matter how innocuous…”

After the Random House/Crown Publishers/Alfred Knopf subsidiary division of another media conglomerate, Germany’s Bertelsmann AG, gave Barack Obama a $1.7 million two-book contract following his 2004 election to the U.S. Senate, Winfrey also apparently used her television talk-show to help Obama market one of his new books. As Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendell noted in his 2007 book Obama: From Promise To Power:

“In October 2006 came the…release of Obama’s second book…A major publicity campaign was undertaken, with Obama…appearing on seemingly every major network talk show, capped by an appearance with Michelle [Robinson-Obama] on Oprah. Book sales boomed…Obama’s book hit the top spot in sales…The day after the November [2006] election, in which the Democrats took control of Congress, Obama and his advisers began meeting in [Obama campaign media consultant David] Axelrod’s office…to discuss seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency…”

So, given the Obama presidential campaign’s apparent connection to the Hearst Dynasty’s media conglomerate and Billionaire Winfrey, don’t expect a Democratic Obama Administration to do very much to democratically redistribute the mass media power and the surplus wealth of the Hearst Dynasty and its billionaire business partners in 2009.

Next: During July and August 2008 of the summer vacation, I’ll only be blogging on this site about once a week. So the next post, “Australian Antiwar Activist Joan Coxsedge’s Autobiography:A Review of Cold Tea And Brandy” won’t be posted until July 24, 2008. On to Denver and St. Paul! Peace Now and Amnesty For All U.S. Political Prisoners in 2008!

1 comment:

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