Sunday, June 01, 2008

She's fierce, she's a feminist and she's in your face

(Ht: Charlie Sykes)
Maybe that's why Oprah Winfrey's numbers are down.

Ratings for “The Oprah Winfrey Show” have dropped nearly 7 percent this year, the third straight year of decline — and some observers point to Oprah’s endorsement of Barack Obama for president as a reason behind the recent plunge.

Oprah’s average audience has fallen to about 7.3 million this year, down from 7.8 million a year ago and nearly 9 million in the 2004-05 season.

And the show has now lost almost a quarter of its audience in the women ages 25 to 54 demographic compared to three years ago.

Oprah’s endorsement of Obama in October “appears to have alienated some of the middle-aged white women who make up the bulk of her television audience, many of whom support Senator Hillary Clinton,” the New York Times observed.

A large number of visitors to Oprah’s Web site have left messages sharply critical of Oprah’s political stance, according to Janice Peck, a University of Colorado associate professor of mass communication and author of a new book on Oprah’s influence, “The Age of Oprah.”

“There are a lot of her fans who are not Democrats or who support Hillary Clinton who feel betrayed,” Peck told the Times.

A Gallup poll conducted shortly after Winfrey announced her backing of Obama found that her “favorable” rating fell by 8 percentage points, to 66 percent from 74 percent in January of last year, while her “unfavorable” rating surged by more than half, from 17 percent to 26 percent.