THE POWER OF O. Kate Sheppard

THE POWER OF O. Kate Sheppard points out that Obama could see a bump from the endorsement of Oprah, who is arguably one of the country's most powerful opinion leaders. Chris Rose explained this unique power in his humorous essay (via Ezra) on how he couldn't talk about his book on Oprah's show:

You probably don't need to understand a lot about the publishing industry to know that if Oprah says the name of your book on TV, you sell about a million copies by nightfall.

And if she says she likes your book, you can buy a Lear jet and move to Belize by the end of the business day.

The thing here is that she has the power to make people spend money, but the question is whether she can actually do what activists, politicians, and other celebrities have all failed or had marginal success at: getting people to vote. I'm frankly a little disturbed by the influence Oprah has over people. By having candidates "sit on her couch and chat," as Kate put it, she's actually encouraging people to evaluate candidates based on their charisma and personalities instead of thinking about what policies they support. That's a method I don't think is particularly valuable.

--Kay Steiger

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