Oprah’s Truth

Oprah’s Truth


Leonard Zwelling


Upon receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globe show on Sunday, January 7, Oprah Winfrey may have launched her bid to be president in 2020. At least that’s what the blogosphere thinks. #Oprah2020 is the hash tag du jour.

Given who the current occupant of the Oval Office is, I see no reason that Ms. Winfrey would not be competitive for the job. She has as much governmental experience as Mr. Trump had and he won on his first try, as he is fond of letting us all know. Given her penchant for singing responses to questions and Mr. Trump’s clumsy attempts at singing the national anthem, I guess she’s got him in the halftime entertainment category.

During her impassioned Golden Globes acceptance speech, Ms. Winfrey referred to each individual’s “own truth” as being a powerful tool. I suppose one’s belief system is inherently critical for determining the thought processes of that individual, but, as we have learned from Mr. Trump, your truth is not the same as THE truth. KellyAnne Conway’s “alternative facts” not withstanding, there are not several truths about objective and measurable natural occurrences or even those that are not natural. Like demonstrations about Confederate statues. Sometimes there aren’t good people on both sides.

The article from the Wall Street Journal above is about how Oprah has given several TV platforms to vaccine deniers like Jenny McCarthy. This is quantifiably dangerous and ought to be labeled as such. The truth of the vaccine deniers who propose that vaccination causes autism may well be their truth. It is not the truth. In fact, it’s patently false and very dangerous.

I take this one personally because, as a former academic physician, I believe that when medicine makes progress, it has to be in service of the greater population. Nothing has been more important in the war against communicable diseases than vaccination from polio to MMR. Are vaccines perfect? No. Do vaccinated people still get sick? They do—especially when influenza is the target diagnosis. Are there complications of vaccinations? Yes, but they are rare and on the whole are far less deadly than having a large, unvaccinated herd of school children would be.

I do understand where Oprah is coming from with regard to having people “speak their truth.” Everyone has that right. But they cannot speak their truth if it is not true without receiving some harsh criticism. That Ms. Winfrey should give platforms to people who speak their truth which is not the truth is concerning with regard to her judgment and fitness for office.

We have had enough of a Prevaricator-In-Chief for the past year.

If Ms. Winfrey really seeks higher political office, it will be important that she clean up some of her past errors in judgment before asking for our votes.

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