Even Oprah Is Powerless In Trump's America

by Bassam Khawaja
Paras Griffin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

If you thought most Trump voters might show even a glimmer of regret for throwing their support behind President Donald Trump and his agenda, you'd be wrong. At least, that was the case for the group of Trump supporters Oprah Winfrey interviewed on 60 Minutes this Sunday night.

In the segment's opening narration, Winfrey told viewers she put together a round table of 14 Michigan voters to find out if America's political divide "was still as deep and bitter as before." If Winfrey's Sunday-night interview is any indication, Trump supporters and their opponents remain as divided as ever on issues like race, foreign relations, health care, and Russia's election hack.

Even Winfrey couldn't move the conversation beyond the boilerplate Americans are now familiar with hearing from Trump's most ardent supporters. One man, Tom, was especially enthusiastic in his unflagging support for Trump. He told Winfrey:

Every day I love him more and more. Every single day. I still don't like his attacks, his Twitter attacks, if you will, on other politicians. I don't think that's appropriate. But, at the same time, his actions speak louder than words. And I love what he's doing to this country. Love it.

Indeed, the dialogue Winfrey orchestrated on 60 Minutes likely wasn't all too different from the conversations many people had around their Thanksgiving dinner tables in 2016. All to say — Winfrey, who was a guest host on the CBS show, didn't make much headway with Trump's supporters or opponents.

When she brought up the ongoing probe into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election, the Trump supporters at the table met her questions with the same frustration the president himself has expressed toward the investigation. "I don't wanna hear one more word about Russia," a man named Paul said. "That's so over the hill for me. What good is it doing anyone?"

When another Michigan voter, Tim, called Russia's election hack an "attack" on the country, a man named Jeff told him to "spare" everyone the "fake outrage." We've all heard that one before.


Another polarizing subject was Trump's response to the August Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which time 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed in a vehicle accident targeting counter-protesters. In his (belated) remarks on the deadly protests, which saw dozens of neo-Nazis take to the streets, Trump notably said "many sides" were to blame for the weekend's violence.

His supporters on 60 Minutes agreed, saying Trump made the right call. "He did not mess up," Tom, who'd earlier stated he loves Trump more "every day," said. "He was absolutely correct ... The KKK wasn't fighting with the KKK. There were two groups. He condemned both of them."

Another Trump supporter, Rose, who said the media pushed the "false equivalence" narrative, thought Trump's statement accurately captured Charlottesville's rallies too. "I saw… I saw both groups of people fighting," she said. "I saw actually, I didn't see any African American there, I saw two groups of white guys fighting each other. And I'm going, 'OK, he is denouncing all hate, all racism.'"

The conversation — which Winfrey said lasted three hours, not 60 minutes — went on to wade into debates over transgender identity and whether it's a choice, First Amendment rights, and the GOP's attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. If Winfrey had hoped to find some common ground on any of these issues, those hopes were quickly dashed by the focus group of Michigan voters.

Though there may be hope yet: According to Winfrey, the discussion among many of the round table participants has since continued "both online and in person," with some members of the group attending a congressional town hall meeting and, last week, a shooting range.

Still, if Winfrey herself can't bring America together, who can?