In an interview with InStyle that was published Thursday, the nation's most famous talk host and philanthropist appeared to settle the question that's been lighting up social media since her Golden Globes speech earlier this month. Would Oprah Winfrey run for president in 2020? Unfortunately, she's leaning no, for now. "It's not something that interests me," she told the magazine. "I don't have the DNA for it."
InStyle conducted the interview three weeks before Oprah gave the speech that went viral, but even though #Oprah2020 hadn't yet become a trending hashtag, people were already whispering about her potential run. InStyle editor-in-chief Laura Brown brought this up in their conversation, asking, "How do you feel when people say, 'Oprah 2020'?"
"I actually saw a mug the other day," Oprah said, laughing. "I thought it was a cute mug." But she ultimately dismissed the idea.
I've always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not. And so it's not something that interests me. I don't have the DNA for it. ... I met with someone the other day who said that they would help me with a campaign. That's not for me.
Judging by the way that #Oprah2020 spread like wildfire, much of the country disagrees. But Winfrey's humility is refreshing, especially since the sitting president seems to have little respect for the gravity of the office.
Oprah said that her close friend Gayle King, who is also an esteemed television personality, often tries to cajole her into running. King apparently texts her all the time about it, letting her know when she's run into someone who asks when Oprah will make a presidential bid, for example. King says she knows that the job wouldn't be good to Oprah, but is convinced that Oprah would be good for the job and for the country.
The fervor around #Oprah2020 began after Winfrey gave a rousing speech at the Golden Globe Awards in support of the #MeToo moment, in which the actress reminded the audience of "the women whose names we'll never know."
In particular, Winfrey highlighted the story of one lesser-known figure: Recy Taylor, a black woman from Alabama who was kidnapped and raped by six white men in 1944. Her attackers threatened her to stay silent, but Taylor reported the crime and found support in Rosa Parks and the NAACP, who helped with the investigation and trial of her case. The rapists admitted their guilt to police but were still declared innocent by the jury. Taylor died on Jan. 2 at age 97.
"She lived as we all have lived: Too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men," Oprah said of Taylor.
For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.
I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth, like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented, goes marching on.
Oprah's emotionality and earnestness as she delivered the speech caused some to compare her with Hillary Clinton, who was often called wooden during the 2016 presidential campaign. And it's true that having a knack for inspirational rhetoric is important for a high-profile politician. Winfrey's potential for governing and her ideas on policy matters are a separate question, but we'll likely remain in the dark about her political capabilities now that she's confirmed that she doesn't want to run.
Unless, of course, she changes her mind — King may wear her down eventually.