In today’s much publicized interview with Sarah Palin, Oprah Winfrey (Palin, Winfrey and Palin’s two daughters pictured left) asked the former governor of Alaska and vice presidential candidate the question we have pondered on this blog: “Should I be worried? Are you going to have your own talk show?” Palin gave Winfrey a standard non-response: “Oprah, you are the queen of talk shows. There is nothing to ever worry about.”
Palin, ever the politician, went on to praise Winfrey and tell her that “back in the nineties, when I was a stay-at-home mom, I would watch you much more than I have a chance to watch you now, and you inspired me.”
I would call that neither a confirmation nor a denial, but I’m also not holding my breath while I wait for The Sarah Palin Show to show up on a station near me. That’s less about whether or not Palin is qualified to host a talk show, and more about the fact that hosting a talk show is far less lucrative today than it once was and the chance of failure is much higher. Palin likely has better opportunities elsewhere.
Palin’s book, Going Rogue, comes out tomorrow (Nov. 17). Winfrey called it a “fascinating read.” The New York Times, whose review I linked to above, writes: “All in all Ms. Palin emerges from Going Rogue as an eager player in the blame game, ungrateful to the McCain campaign for putting her on the national stage. As for the McCain campaign, it often feels like a desperate and cynical operation, willing to make a risky Hail Mary pass to try to score a tactical win, instead of making a considered judgment as to who might be genuinely qualified to sit a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.”
That Winfrey won this exclusive with Republican It-Girl Palin indicates to me that Winfrey is not as politically polarizing as some have made her out to be. Winfrey has taken heat in some sectors for backing Barack Obama’s presidential run when he was the junior senator from Winfrey’s home state of Illinois. Some observers even attributed the show’s falling ratings to that backing.
I personally don’t buy that. Oprah’s ratings have fallen about as much as any other talk show. It’s far more likely that those losses come from viewers moving over to cable. When Oprah’s got the guest or the topic, the show still turns in better ratings than anything else in daytime. Palin is definitely the guest of the moment — expect strong ratings to follow.