Alex Massie

Oprah: The Queen of Snake-Oil

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Michael Kinsley has a very entertaining take-down of the "new" Newsweek in this week's edition of the New Republic*. However, I doubt the "old" Newsweek would have dared publish this very entertaining, even brutal, demolition of Oprah Winfrey. In fact, it's the sort of piece one might imagine appearing in TNR. So, whatever the merits of Kinsley's piece and whatever the future may - or more probably does not - hold for Newsweek, anything that exposes Oprah's weird combination of sappy new age snake-oil and shameless hucksterism is no bad thing.

If nothing else, it's worth being reminded that Oprah peddles the anti-MMR nonsense that, if its supporters have their way, is much more likely to harm many more children than would be affected even if their crackpottery were based on a sound evaluation of the risks of immunisation. Which, as best I can tell, it isn't.

Then there's this:

This is Oprah's special brilliance. She is a gifted entertainer, but she makes it seem as though that is beside the point. Oprah is not here to amuse you, she is here to help you. To help you understand your feelings; drop those unwanted pounds; look and feel younger; get your thyroid under control; to smooth your thighs, nip and tuck your wrinkles, awaken your senses and achieve spiritual tranquillity so that you can at last be free to "Live Your Best Life."...

Thyroid dysfunction, which affects millions of Americans (mostly women), occurs when the thyroid gland located in the neck produces too much or too little thyroid hormone. Too much (hyperthyroidism) and the metabolism races, sometimes causing anxiety and weight loss. Too little (hypothyroidism) and it slows, which, if severe, can lead to depression and weight gain. Many things can trigger the disease, especially autoimmune disorders.

But Northrup believes thyroid problems can also be the result of something else. As she explains in her book, "in many women, thyroid dysfunction develops because of an energy blockage in the throat region, the result of a lifetime of 'swallowing' words one is aching to say."

On the show, she told Oprah that "your body gives you signals: 'Hey, you've been putting too much stuff under the carpet ...' "

Oprah : So your body ... is only manifesting what's really going on with your spirit?

Northrup: But your intellect doesn't know it. This is the important part. It's not—you're not causing this deliberately ... It's your soul bringing it to your attention.

Oprah: Right. It's your soul trying to speak to you.


*Kudo too to the TNR editor who headlined Kinsley's piece "Backward Runs Newsweek" - a splendid in-joke, if one only likely to be understood by journalists and devoted fans of the New Yorker.

[Via Kevin Drum]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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