Did Oprah’s Endorsement Of Obama End Her Media Empire?

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During the 2008 elections one of President Obama’s most ardent and high-profile celebrity backers was Oprah Winfrey who, at the time, was an entire media industry unto herself. Her daytime talk show was iconic. She could make or break the success of products from books to movies to household cleaners with her endorsement, or lack thereof.

Since that endorsement, Oraph ended her daytime talk show (amid sagging viewership numbers) ostensibly to focus on her own television network OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network). Except, that’s not exactly going well. According to the New York Post, OWN may have lost as much as $330 million:

The losses at Oprah Winfrey’s stumbling cable channel are approaching a staggering $330 million, according to a report over the weekend.

And now industry insiders are predicting the Oprah Winfrey Network will not be able to survive another year if it does not find a hit show and make a dramatic turnaround.

Discovery, which partnered 50-50 with Winfrey to launch the network and has been underwriting its costs, has invested nearly $600 million in it since 2008, according to an extensive report in Businessweek magazine.

But since it started on the air in January 2011, “OWN may have lost as much as $330 million,” the magazine reports.

Meanwhile, Winfrey says she won’t be endorsing Obama publicly in 2012:

When talk show queen Oprah Winfrey announced she was publicly supporting Barack Obama for president back in 2008, she shocked many TV insiders who had always thought it best for talk show hosts to keep their political views to themselves.

Now as the 2012 election process has officially begun, sources tell me this time around Oprah’s support will be much more private.

“For 2012, much has changed for Oprah. She now has own cable channel called OWN that has been struggling to find an audience — she isn’t going to do anything to alienate them,” a TV insider tells me. “Unlike in 2008, when a drop in ratings didn’t matter as much for the queen of TV, Oprah is now fighting every day to get people to tune into OWN.”

Change we can believe in.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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