Tricknology: Remembering When Oprah Winfrey Helped The U.S. Military Industrial Complex Sell The Iraq War To The American Public

By Ann Brown Mar 17, 2021


Oprah Winfrey Photo: (AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool)

Most people wouldn’t associate media mogul Oprah Winfrey with pro-war advocates, but back in 2002, some say she helped sell the Iraq War to Americans. On the surface, Winfrey seemed against the war, but others claim her motives were pro-war tricknology.

At the time, Winfrey was the biggest name on daytime TV. The Iraq War began in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by a U.S.-led coalition to overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein.

In several episodes of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” from November 2002 through the spring of 2003, Winfrey aired a series called “The World Speaks Out on Iraq.” She explored the negative implications of potential U.S. action against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, at a time when the drumbeat for war was growing louder, Time magazine reported. 

The talk show host “used her program to market the war. Winfrey ran video clips in a sound-bite manner by ‘experts’ as a ‘moral’ obligation to rid the world of Saddam Hussein,” wrote CounterPunch.

“Oprah should have been paid by the Pentagon as much as she was helping their war propaganda,” according to a political talk show “Majority Report with Sam Seder.”

Seder noted during a Jan. 12 report that “Oprah used her influence and power to lead America into one of the worst foreign policy disasters in U.S. history: the Iraq War.” Meanwhile, the Bush administration was “propagating the false narrative” that Hussein was connected to the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Through her hugely popular show, Winfrey “gave the warmongers a platform, while silencing voices of reason — even in her own audience,” Seder said. 

When an audience member commented that the show seemed to be “propagandizing” in favor of war, Winfrey pushed back and shut down the audience member by claiming to merely be presenting both sides of the argument.

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Initially, Winfrey took heavy criticism for the first episode of her war special, but subsequent episodes earned her praise from anti-war activists, The Military Times reported. 

Winfrey was also accused of going “too easy” on President George W. Bush when he appeared as a guest of the show years later. In a Nov. 9, 2010, interview, she failed to go in on Bush for the Iraqi invasion and falsehoods.

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