This attitude might seem careless, but Oprah defends the show by pointing to how its "content only reflects research-supported emerging products and procedures." See? It's all good! It's not like anyone's ever died from- oh wait, we can't say that.
In 2006, Oprah promoted -- over the course of numerous episodes -- a radical new age retreat called "Spiritual Warrior," in which participants fasted for 36 hours in the desert and then participated in a ritual inside a sweltering sweat lodge. Its proprietor, James Arthur Ray, compared the retreat to "heat endurance," although "torture" might be a better descriptor -- but that might just be our un-spiritual eyes talking. It sounds crazy, but people were taken with it nevertheless. People like Kirby Brown, whose mother initially objected to the idea and was only swayed by Oprah's endorsement. Brown and two other participants died during the sweat lodge ritual, and 18 others were injured, after Ray failed to monitor the temperature inside the tent and ignored people having difficulties. He was later convicted of negligent homicide.
Yavapai County Sheriff's Office
And you know we have to talk about Jenny McCarthy at some point too, right?
In 2007, McCarthy appeared on Oprah as part of a special "Moms Battle Autism" episode in order to share her own truth with the world: that vaccinations are totally bogus, you guys. Using the even-then-debunked research of Dr. Andrew Wakefield to bolster her claims, described how her son was diagnosed with autism after he received the MMR vaccine. It's at this point that we'd bring up how the increase in autism diagnoses is more likely due to a change in how the condition is diagnosed rather than a shadowy conspiracy (which is supported by the fact that one country outright banned the vaccine and autism still went up). But how can we compete with the medical wizards who helped McCarthy realize this conclusion, like, ummm ... Google?
CBS Television Distribution
Oprah, meanwhile, counterbalanced this avalanche of bullshit by reading out a simple statement from the CDC stating that all available evidence states that there's no link between autism and MMR -- a statement that she allowed McCarthy to shit all over by saying that her son, Evan, was "her science." Oprah didn't present any additional evidence, or even present *two* healthy kids who'd had the MMR vaccine to counteract this kid-based science, but it's hard to see how that would've helped the outcome.
This episode of the show was watched by millions of viewers, and based on this interview, McCarthy was subsequently allowed to spew her nonsense on Good Morning America and Larry King Live, thus giving her toxic conspiracies a combined audience of almost 20 million people.
We haven't even gotten to the small ecosystems of crackpots and pseudoscientists that Oprah has hanging around her, like a garbage dump that supports a community of rats. There's Rhonda Byrne, who authored The Secret (aka False Hope: Think It And It'll Happen (Except When The Odds Are Heavily Stacked Against You), Deepak Chopra, who produces bullshit at such an exponential rate that he has to carry on yoga-ing in order to stretch his body enough to be able to contain it, John of God, a modestly named miracle healer who's a definite shoo-in for the Department of Energy, and, of course, Doctors Phil and Oz -- the latter of whom is so proficient at alternative facts that he was recently called up to advise Donald Trump on health issues, of which Trump probably has quite a few.
Sony Pictures Television
The issue isn't that Oprah is promoting this junk to try to kill us, and the issue definitely isn't that she's too dumb to know that she's selling snake oil. It's a profit thing, pure and simple. She knows that the medical establishment makes for boring television, while novelty-driven alternative fads draw the eye (and wallet). Novelty gets attention, attention gets ratings, ratings get money, and money buys her the peace of mind which says that any side effects viewers suffer as a result of these treatments are simply caveat emptor.
We (rightly) give Alex Jones a lot of shit for being an angry, shouty asshole, but he's only that way because Oprah called dibs on selling the same type of tonics with a happy, smily personality.
Thinking about it, we're not even sure if this stuff disqualifies her from being president anymore. She's a billionaire who craves attention, doesn't care what happens to the people who support her, and sits at the center of a spider's web of hangers-on and conspiracy nuts. If anything, this is bang on trend, and we know from experience that she loves to take advantage of trends for her own ends, people be damned.
Author Daniel O'Brien would have some difficulty updating How To Fight Presidents for a President Oprah, that's for sure.
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For more, check out Please Stop Smelling What The Rock Is Cookin' and 6 Ways You Didn't Realize Ronald Reagan Ruined The Country.
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