James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Archive for April 7th, 2009

If you knew Suze, like Oprah knows Suze… maybe you’d be richer

Posted by James McPherson on April 7, 2009

“Suze Orman decides what couples can afford,” reads a headline on the front page of the CNN Web site. The headline links to an Oprah.com story(headlined after the click, “Suze decides what you can afford).” As for Oprah.com, the lead story under “hot topics” is “Suze Orman’s Recession Rescue Plan.”

Suddenly with the economy in the toilet, Orman has become as omnipresent as two other women with O’s in their names–Michelle Obama (live or otherwise) being the third. Regular PBS viewers already knew Orman as perhaps the only openly lesbian financial expert in the country (relevant only because not long ago her sexual orientation would have kept her off of conservative airwaves, but may actually enhance her credibility with some of the PBS audience), but she seems now to be on everywhere.

She has her own show on CNBC, the generally conservative business network that goes along with MSNBC’s political liberalism to make a balanced peacock. (Rather than schizophrenia, I guess we should view it like the old golf joke in which a drive into the left rough followed by a shot into the right rough equals statistical perfection.) Orman also is an editor for Oprah’s magazine, and writes regularly for the Costco magazine.

Aside from the fact that the most powerful and perhaps richest woman in America (Oprah, not Michelle, though Barack wouldn’t be in the White House without both of them) is now giving us poorer folks economic advice herself, why should we now trust Oprah’s endorsement of Orman? I admit that I’ve distrusted Oprah since she foisted Dr. Phil on the American consciousness, but still, who is Orman that we apparently should trust to tell us what to do with our money, anyway?

Well, you can read her story here, and she did largely luck into a good education and a job and career in business. But she also has worked tough jobs, such as spending six years as a waitress (one of the tougher and more honorable jobs in America), so she may remember what it’s like not to have money. Considering that she has written a bunch of bestselling books telling us what to do with our money, perhaps the problem was that the right people just didn’t listen to her early enough.

Besides, consider the fact that the vast majority of people who have been guiding us into the current mess are men. Maybe it’s because today I went from teaching my “Women and Media” class to a moderated discussion of “The Vagina Monalogues” (which will be read publicly on my school’s campus later this month), but I can’t help but feel that the problem may be that there hasn’t been enough Orman to go around.

Posted in History, Journalism, Politics, Women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »