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Oprah Winfrey Helped Create Our American Fantasyland

  • Oprah Winfrey gave national platforms and legitimacy to all sorts of magical thinking.
  • Any assessment of her possible presidential bid should consider the irrational, pseudoscientific free for all she helped create. Editor's Note: Adapted from Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History copyright © 2017 by Kurt Andersen. With permission from the publisher, Random House. All rights reserved.

Kurt Anderson, Slate,204,203,200_.jpgJan 10, 2018 | Forty-eight hours ago, after watching Oprah Winfrey give a terrific, rousing feminist speech on an awards show, millions of Americans instantly, giddily decided that the ideal 2020 Democratic nominee had appeared. An extremely rich and famous and exciting star and impresario—but one who seems intelligent and wise and kind, the non–Bizarro World version of the sitting president.

Some wet-blanketing followed immediately, among the best from the New York Times Magazine writer Thomas Chatterton Williams in an op-ed headlined “Oprah, Don’t Do It.” “It would be a devastating, self-inflicted wound for the Democrats to settle for even benevolent mimicry of Mr. Trump’s hallucinatory circus act,” he wrote. “Indeed, the magical thinking fueling the idea of Oprah in 2020 is a worrisome sign about the state of the Democratic Party.” Kurt Andersen is an American novelist who is also host of the Peabody-winning public radio program Studio 360, a co-production between Public Radio International and WNYC.

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