Is Oprah playing both sides of the Rihanna/Chris Brown story?


When the story first broke about Chris Brown’s brutal attack on his girlfriend Rihanna, several celebrities expressed shock that Brown was capable of such behavior. This list of Brown apologists included the Queen of talk, Oprah Winfrey. The daytime diva heaped praise on Brown because he was nice enough to visit the students at her school for girls in Africa. I bet she’s regretting her Chris Brown love-fest now that more disturbing details have been leaked about the extent of his abuse on Rihanna, including his threats to kill her. Perhaps that’s why Oprah has hopped off the fence recently and has attempted to reach Rihanna, both privately and on the air.

Oprah has outraged viewers and ignited a scandal with her reaction to the domestic violence shocker involving Rihanna and Chris Brown. Following the Feb. 8 incident – which could put the R&B singer behind bars for years for allegedly battering the 21-year-old – Oprah reportedly telephoned the “Umbrella” singer to offer comfort.

But skeptics blast the talk queen’s call as nothing more than a brazen attempt to secure an interview, and as one Web site said, “lay the groundwork for an eventual on-air exclusive.”

On her Feb. 20 show, Oprah created even more controversy by discussing a post-incident photo of a bruised Rihanna. …Gushing about Brown, Oprah called him “lovely…a wonderful, kind, generous guy.”

But some viewers thought Oprah and (best friend) Gayle (King) went too far as they praised Brown for visiting Oprah’s school for girls in Africa.

…The show was a surprise to fans who remember that Oprah herself had been a victim of abuse at the hands of men.

“It appears Oprah is trying to play both sides of the fence, trying to reel in either a Chris Brown or Rihanna exclusive interview,” concluded an insider. “Her actions in public and in private in regard to the Rihanna-Chris Brown incident seem out of character for Oprah.”

[From The National Enquirer print version, March 16, 2009]

Since Oprah likes to bill herself as some sort of expert/advocate on domestic abuse, she should have known that abusers are often charming and “nice” with other people. It’s only behind closed doors that their abusive behavior comes out. Shame on Oprah for not condemning Chris Brown’s actions from day one. But these days, tt would appear that Oprah has decided to give up on the Chris Brown angle. Just last Friday, Oprah addressed Rihanna directly on her show, advising the young singer that “love doesn’t hurt” and she should wait before getting back together with Brown.

“You need somebody to tell you the truth in this moment. And the truth is guys, both Chris Brown and Rihanna, if I were your friend, I would call you up and I would say ‘Give it some time, get yourself some counseling, take care of yourself, heal yourself first’,” she said during the live broadcast.

“And also, ‘Love doesn’t hurt’. I’ve been saying this to women for years – love doesn’t hurt. And if a man hits you once, he will hit you again. He will hit you again. I don’t care what his plea is, he will hit you again.’”

[From Popeater]

I still find it interesting that Oprah doesn’t come right out and say “get out of the relationship.” Instead, she advises that they give it some time before getting back together. As if giving it time will stop Chris Brown from being an abuser. If the abuser were anyone other than a friend of Oprah’s she’d be blasting him every single day on her show.

Oprah’s in a dangerous position here. Like it or not, she is a powerful media influence and walks a fine line between raising awareness on a difficult topic like domestic abuse, and exploiting a painfully public incident to boost the ratings of her show. Perhaps she should avoid reaching out to either of them and just do a show on domestic violence in general. How about an entire show devoted to giving regular women support and resources to get out of violent relationships? That would do a lot more good than courting either Rihanna or Chris Brown.

Photo credits: FAME.

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19 Responses to “Is Oprah playing both sides of the Rihanna/Chris Brown story?”

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  1. Baholicious says:

    But what about Sisterhood?! Oh right, that’s because she’s a duplicitous sack of porkrinds and the only community is the ‘Oprahood.’

  2. Lem says:

    CNN said this morning she’s doing a show on Fri. about domestic violence.

    I hadn’t heard she heaped praise on Brown after the incident. That seems very odd. Given~

    O seems to be in a very weird space lately. I think (as if what I think has any merit) she’s found herself back in H.S. with a major crush on the President while simultaneously trying to befriend and undermine the head cheerleader (who’s more successful, better built and has more power). You know how that can effect your whole world. Just for O to have such competition (influence wise)seems enough but she has it bad for the competition’s man. Which just makes your head spin.

  3. FF says:

    If there’s one thing that I’m not loving about this celebs on the fence/playing both sides thing is that, isn’t it mere months since Jennifer Hudson’s family was devastated due to escalating domestic/intimate abuse?

    Every time this pops up it seems extremely callous of the same celebs to not take it more seriously.

    It’s breathtaking that even if they aren’t taking a massive stand they still seem to be unwilling to accept the gravity of the events. I don’t get it. I can understand not wanting to run another black male through the judicial system but seriously, according to the report, he smashed, punched, bit, and throttled her until she passed out. And he doesn’t seem to be that bothered about it.

    If this was any random person off the street they’d be throwing away the key.

    Is it because he *looks* harmless, because he seems so indifferent that they don’t believe her story, or what? If there’s something she doesn’t need it’s being anywhere near him. And if he were truly repentant, he’d KNOW that.

  4. b says:

    Shame on Oprah…she has been sucking alot lately. I’m not such a fan anymore.

  5. becca says:

    I stopped liking Oprah when she started getting so fangirly on Obama, it almost looked like she was plotting to seal him from Michelle. Which, of course, isn’t going to be happening. The two of them (Mr. President and Mrs. First Lady) are really close…and you don’t mess with Michelle Obama.

  6. Lem says:

    that grey dress is a bad as the one that’s wearing Beyonce in todays shots

  7. Shay says:

    At this point does it really matter?

  8. Christina says:

    i don’t see anything wrong with her advice… people get so up in arms about oprah… i think she is being genuine in saying “give it time and heal” because if she heals, she’ll realize she doesn’t need him… rhianna may not be able to completely leave brown at this point, but the idea of giving it “some time” might sink in better than an absolute break up would… i think it’s what i would tell someone in that situation because often times when people give black and white advice, i tend to think that they don’t fully understand the emotional nature of someone going through the difficulty… i’m sure the world would be a perfect place if we could do the right thing all the time at the exact moment it was called for…

  9. lisa says:

    While I hate the fact that Oprah always has her nose in just about everyone’s business, I agree with her on this point: love should not hurt and if he hits you once, he will do it again.
    Rhianna needs time to herself to get her emotions in check and look at the big picture instead of putting herself right back into the fire. It is her decision but I think Oprah is trying to help because I will predict in the future we will see Rhianna on Oprah’s couch crying her eyes out on what went wrong and how long it took to see reality.

  10. Amy says:

    Actually, that first quote was taken out of context. When Oprah was mentioning how nice Chris Brown was, it was when she was expressing how shocked she was that the event occurred in the first place (as many of us were). How even she was deceived by his outwardly nice and chivalrous behavior. She then went on to say that she hoped that both of them seek the help that they need. This was before the details of the attack were released. While this is not the response that many people wanted, it is also not the apologist statement being released here.

    We may also want to look at her recent response to Rihanna as a way of encouraging Rihanna to get out of the relationship without berating her or condemning her. So many women in this situation feel guilty about allowing themselves to get in the situation in the first place. They feel like they “deserve” it and make excuses. Shoot, if you look at message boards, many women believe that she incited and deserved the severity of the attack.I’m sure that Rihanna is on guard now so that any attack, whether positive (telling her she deserves to get out of that relationship) or negative (telling her she deserves the beatings), are unable to penetrate. So, the tactic of commanding her to leave him may be fruitless. Supporting her through this ordeal and showing her exactly to what atrocities follow staying with a serial abuser may help to give her confidence she needs to make the decision. Because, no matter what we say, this is ultimately her decision. Hopefully, someone can find a way to reach her so that she has the courage to sever her connection to Chris.

    Another note: on Friday’s show, Gayle very clearly said she believed that Rihanna should leave Chris. She even intimated that if they stay together she hopes that both of their careers stalwart, so that neither can be a “role model” for abusers and their victims.

  11. FF says:

    Also, ‘heal first’ before what though? Going back and doing it all again because surely he’ll hit again no matter how he heals.

    That’s the point of confusion, which makes it seem like she’s trying to not make waves.

    If she takes the line that she doesn’t want to comment on an ongoing investigation, then just don’t bring them into it at all. Everyone’s mind would gravitate towards them anyway.

    That’s comment’s such a ‘make everyone happy’ comment that it doesn’t really make any sense.

  12. FF says:

    ps – thanks for clearing that up, Amy. It makes a bit more sense now.

  13. Sakota says:

    “I stopped liking Oprah when she started getting so fangirly on Obama, it almost looked like she was plotting to seal him from Michelle. Which, of course, isn’t going to be happening. The two of them (Mr. President and Mrs. First Lady) are really close…and you don’t mess with Michelle Obama.”

    Ugh I know. Just like Beyonce. I heard she thinks Obama is the savior of the world and I loathe all the smug photos of Oprah and how she is posturing as a sort of quasi-politiican and elder statesman in the making because she stumped for Obama.

  14. morgs says:

    That grey dress is hideous. It makes her look massive.

    Shock of all shockers, she’s trying to get an exclusive!

  15. pam427 says:

    I saw the episode when Oprah was talking about Chris Brown. She was not heaping praise on him. She was basically saying she was shocked. She even went as far as to say the should NOT get back together. I think her advise on Friday’s show was quite sensible.

  16. Zoe says:

    Wow, fantastic comments from Christina and Amy. Thanks!

    I think O gave the only really viable advice she could.

  17. Ophelia says:

    I fracking hate Oprah. I don’t care how much she helps, with all that money, she would simply be evil if she didn’t. Why do people even listen to her? She’s obviously a bad judge of character.

  18. sissoucat says:

    I thought Oprah was in a position to raise awareness, and rich enough to have no qualms about what she thinks.

    Amy did a good job of explaining us Oprah’s perspective. Now if only Oprah kept giving the same sound advices *and* asked for everybody to boycott their products until this abuse situation is somehow sorted out, until that time she thinks they both need has elapsed, now that would be courageous and clear from her.

  19. Anoneemouse says:

    Little too late for advice anyway – they’re back together. Not that she would listen anyway. I’m sure everyone has told her the same thing so just because Oprah says it doesn’t mean she she hasn’t already heard it.