What's All This Then?

commentary on the passing parade

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005
 
NONSENSE AS NEWS AND GENEROSITY AS COMMERCIALISM

This may sound a little petty but I’m close to being annoyed at the idea that the appearance of Oprah Winfrey on the Letterman show is some kind of major news story I never watch Oprah as I’ve indicated here before and I’m both amused and bewildered - and sometimes irritated when I read about her world wide popularity and influence. So why am I writing about her and her upcoming appearance with Letterman? I guess because it’s being presented as a major story - in the case of the daily paper that I read, on the front page of the business section!!

In the years when I stayed up later than I do now, I would occasionally watch a part of the Letterman show and I was aware of some kind of running gag about Oprah not calling him or inviting him on her show. - or maybe it was appearing on his. Now I read that there was an underlying story of petulance on the part of Oprah who had made a couple of appearances on Letterman’s show and felt that she was treated badly.. Also, she didn’t take kindly to Letterman’s attempt to be funny by repeating her name and that of Uma Thurman when he hosted the Oscars in 1995. Remember? Uma , Oprah. Oprah, Uma. It wasn’t funny then and it isn’t funny as I type it now. And apparently - again I presume in an attempt to be funny - Letterman from time to time has made some disparaging remarks about Oprah on his show.

Why have they buried the hatchet? The speculation is that it has something to do with the fact that an Oprah stage production of "The Color Purple" is about to open at a theater a stone’s throw from where Letterman tapes and that Oprah would rather make nice with Dave and publicize her show than allow for the possibility of him pointing cameras at the marquee where the show is playing and make jokes about it and her. And as for Letterman, the expected ratings boost would be welcome for a show that has consistently lagged behind Jay Leno .

I suppose I could have saved a lot of words by simply noting that I’ve read the story about Oprah and Letterman burying the hatchet but who cares. Obviously a lot of people do. A lot of people identify with performers that they watch on the boob tube. They become part of their "family" - part of their lives. I’m sure that there are people among us who truly believe that Jennifer Aniston is Rachel and that David Schwimmer is Ross. I would imagine they’re the same people keeping "Natural Cures "They" Don’t Want You to Know About" on the New York Times best seller list.

But there’s another reason I’m penning comments having to do with Oprah today Something that irritates every time I hear about it. As I was listening to the radio early this morning, I heard some hysterical screaming - and the host explained that it was from a recording of a recent Oprah show - maybe yesterday’s - I didn’t quite get the time frame. But the reason for the screaming was that it was another of Oprah’s "giveaway" shows - shows where everyone in the audience is surprised with the gift of a car or the crown jewels or the deed to the Taj Mahal. In this case, the audience was made up of Katrina volunteers who thought they were there to talk about their experiences but instead each of them was lavished with a basket of gifts valued at several thousands of dollars. And of course they were hysterical with surprise and gratitude. Like the recipients of cars at an Oprah show some time ago, many "couldn’t believe it."

I think that anyone who did volunteer work in the wake of the Katrina disaster deserves any gift of gratitude anyone wants to lavish upon then. And if Oprah Winfrey, who has become one of the richest women in the country through the syndication of her television talk show wants to show her personal gratitude for the work that they did by giving them expensive gifts, more power to her. I think it’s wonderful. But I don’t want to hear about it. Or at least I don’t want to hear that she’s produced yet another syndicated television show built around her largesse so that the whole world can observe and admire her generosity. The true "giver" doesn’t trumpet his or her giving to the world or use such giving to promote his or her business. It’s something that should be done quietly, with dignity - and preferably anonymously. Oprah’s way of "giving" may be greeted with hysterical screams of gratitude from the surprised beneficiaries, but it strikes me as being more about telling the world what a wonderful person Oprah is than about the people she helps.
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Another "smoking gun?"

Could 10 Downing Street be the absolute downfall of George Walker Bush.? First we had the infamous Downing Street Memo which spoke of a decision that had been made to invade Iraq and of fixing intelligence to support that decision. And once the attack was launched, we had image after image of the President in his swaggering, shoot from the hip, "bring ‘em on" mode, leaving some to conclude that he was a loose canon who might get us deeper involved in military adventures beyond Iraq.

And now we have the UK’s Daily Mirror reporting on another Downing Street memo, detailing Dubya’s desire and intention to bomb the headquarters of Al Jazeera and of being talked out of it by Tony Blair!!

The push is on to get Downing Street to publish the transcript of the back and forth conversation between Bush and Blair. One way or another, I think it will see the light of day and I’m already becoming convulsed with anticipatory laughter imagining the response that Scott McClellan will offer and the contents of the talking points memo that will go out to all the conservative print and broadcast sycophants.

Stay tuned