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Oprah Brings Her Connections To '60 Minutes'

Oprah Winfrey
CBS News
Oprah Winfrey

It looked like a no-brainer for CBS News to make Oprah Winfrey a "60 Minutes" special contributor, given her close friendship with "CBS This Morning" co-anchor Gayle King and her frequent appearances on CBS.

Oprah seemed to know everyone who's anyone on her top-rated daytime talk show for 25 years (1986-2011).

But hiring Winfey for "60 Minutes," still TV's most popular news magazine in its 48th season, could keep her CBS News bosses busy to avoid any appearances of conflict of interests for the media mogul, talk host, actress, philanthropist and Weight Watchers spokesperson.

Oprah Winfrey on "CBS This Morning" with Norah O'Donnell, Charlie Rose and Gayle King in 2013.
Credit CBS Broadcasting Inc.
Oprah Winfrey on "CBS This Morning" with Norah O'Donnell, Charlie Rose and Gayle King in 2013.

The wide world of Winfrey includes being chairman, CEO and founder of an advertising-based TV network (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network) in partnership with Discovery Communications; founder of Harpo Productions, which developed daytime TV shows ("Dr. Phi," "Dr. Oz," "Rachael Ray") and movies ("Selma" under her Harpo Films); serving on the Weight Watchers board of directors and starring in its TV commercials; founding "O, The Oprah Magazine"; acting in "Selma," "The Color Purple" (which earned her Academy Award nominations), "Lee Daniels' The Butler" and the upcoming “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” (HBO) and "A Wrinkle in Time" (Disney).

CBS also acknowledges her as "one of the most active philanthropists in the world, donating more than $20 million to the creation of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture… (and) more than $100 million to provide education to academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds" through her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama during the December taping of "First Lady Michelle Obama Says Farewell To The White House: An Oprah Winfrey Special."
Credit CBS Broadcasting Inc.
Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama during the December taping of "First Lady Michelle Obama Says Farewell To The White House: An Oprah Winfrey Special."

The announcement came less than a week after she had an arguably too big of an appearance on CBS' prime-time tribute to actress Mary Tyler Moore hosted by King, her closest friend. Her OWN network also produced "First Lady Michelle Obama Says Farewell To The White House: An Oprah Winfrey Special" on CBS Dec. 19.

To be fair, Winfrey is returning to her roots.  She started career as a TV anchor and reporter in Nashville and Baltimore in the 1970s.

"I've been a big admirer of '60 Minutes' since my days as a young reporter. I'm so excited and proud to join forces with this historic news program, which for me represents the bastion of journalistic storytelling. At a time when people are so divided, my intention is to bring relevant insight and perspective, to look at what separates us, and help facilitate real conversations between people from different backgrounds," said Winfrey in the CBS announcement.

"“There is only one Oprah Winfrey,” said "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager in the announcement.  "She has achieved excellence in everything she has touched. Her body of work is extraordinary, including thousands of interviews with people from all walks of life. She is a remarkable and talented woman with a level of integrity that sets her apart and makes her a perfect fit for '60 Minutes' I am thrilled that she will be bringing her unique and powerful voice to our broadcast."

He'll just have to keep his eyes open to all her possible conflicts of interest.

Here's a link to the CBS News release.

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John Kiesewetter joined the WVXU news team as a TV/Media blogger on July 1 2015, after nearly 30 years covering local and national broadcasting for The Cincinnati Enquirer. He’ll be posting news about Greater Cincinnati TV, radio and movies; updating your favorite former local TV/radio personalities or stars who grew up here; and breaking news about national TV, radio and media trends. You’ll also learn about Cincinnati’s rich broadcasting history.