In the fall, Oprah Winfrey will join CBS’s 60 Minutes as a special correspondent. Little has been said about the deal, except that she wants to try and “facilitate real conversations between people from different backgrounds.” We caught up with Oprah this week to get more details on what’s motivated her to return to the world of TV journalism.
Winfrey, who is currently starring in Ava DuVernay’s adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, said that while she wasn’t shocked that Donald Trump won the election, she did think Hillary Clinton was going to succeed.
“I realized on Nov. 8 that had I had my show, I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised,” she says. “Because the thing I did every day so well was not the show, but the aftershow. Every day after the show, I talked to the audience. They were my focus group. I would hear what was going on in their lives, what was important to them, their kids. And that’s how we created our shows.”
Also, Winfrey, who has long had the unique ability to reach people from all walks of life, brought six Trump supporters and four Clinton supporters to a restaurant in Queens in December in an attempt to find some common ground for a feature in O Magazine. “They came into the room, and no one wanted to sit with each other,” she says. “After two hours, they were crying, holding hands and singing ‘Reach out and Touch.’ I left that last bit out of the magazine because no one would believe it.”
Add in her successful interview with Michelle Obama, and curiosity trumped any former reticence.
“Something happened in that room,” says Winfrey, adding that 60 Minutes’ executive producer Jeff Fager had previously asked her to join the network. “I missed the connection to the people — where you get to hear both sides and get people to listen to each other. I want to help create a platform where people on all sides can be heard.”
Details of the partnership remain foggy. Winfrey wouldn’t say how frequently she will appear on the news show or what topics she will focus on, but considering how she’s hoping to create a bridge between the deep divisions in this country, expect it to be very topical.
Who knows, maybe we’ll even get some singing.