Women Angry Over Oprah-Obama Campaign

A month after Oprah hit the campaign trail with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the queen of day time talk is facing heat from her largely female fans who have traditionally agreed with just about anything she has done – from the books she reads to the weight loss plans she tries.

But Oprah's endorsement of Obama is different from the typical seals of approval the host offers on her show, and as early as November 2007 commenters on her site's message boards began unleashing criticism of her endorsement for the black candidate – Obama – rather than the female one – Hillary Clinton.

"I cannot believe that women all over this country are not up in arms over Oprah's backing of Obama," wrote austaz68 on Oprah.com, in a message thread titled "Oprah is a Traitor!!!" "For the first time in history we actually have a host at putting a woman in the white house and Oprah backs the black MAN. She's choosing her race over her gender – hypocrisy [sic] at it's finest!! Oprah – you should be ashamed of yourself!!!!!"


And almost two months later, some are still fuming – sparking a heated debate among Oprah's fiercest critics and now her supporters, anxious to defend the beloved host.

On Jan. 19, wendykwrit posted, "You know, for so long I've felt a connection to Oprah and all that she's done not only for women but the world in general. She was such an idol to me and I truly loved all that she stood for. Since she threw her support behind Barack Obama I felt like she let me down."

"I feel like I lost a friend who I thought identified with me and now I realize she's something she's not," added the poster. "I refuse to even watch the show anymore."

But for every critic of Oprah there seems to be a supporter. One poster called those angry with Oprah's endorsement "ignorant."

"Oprah is a traitor, you say. A traitor to whom?" asked Susanne01 on Jan. 20. "My answer would be a traitor to ignorant women who would blindly vote for Hillary because she is a woman. Grow up and get some education."

Back in November when the first criticisms arose, Oprah issued a statement herself, defending her decision to endorse a politician for the first time.

"I thought long and hard before stepping up and out into this because it feels like I am stepping out of my pew and I know that no matter what you do, you're going to be criticized. So, I weighed it. What is the cost for me doing it? Am I going to lose viewers? I made the decision that I have the right to do it as an American citizen and I am doing this because I feel it is the right thing to do at this time," said Oprah in a statement provided to ABCNEWS.com.

A spokesperson added that the show's Web site is meant to be an "open forum" for viewers to share their opinions.

"I don't see any evidence of an Oprah effect," said Diana Owen, an associate professor of political science and the chair of the American studies department at Georgetown University. "We don't have any data [to show her endorsement has had an effect on voters]. The race is so up for grabs."

The first face-off between Obama and Clinton was in Iowa, and while he did succeed with female voters in the Iowa Caucuses – receiving 35 percent to Clinton's 30 percent – Owens adds there is no way to be sure Oprah's campaigning could take credit for the win.

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