Oprah Winfrey Recalls the Moment She Discovered She Was Trending for an Ugly False Accusation
By Rachel McRady
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images
Oprah Winfrey is opening up about being the subject of an ugly lie. In Winfrey's "What I Know for Sure" column for O Magazine, she addresses the false accusations that have followed her around for most of her career.
Back in March, the 66-year-old TV personality was the subject of a nasty rumor claiming that she was being arrested and her home was being raided on sex trafficking charges.
"Imagine sitting cozily in bed, propped up on your favorite pillows, 240 pages into a riveting family saga—when you get a phone call telling you you’re trending on Twitter. And you discover it’s a bogus and vile story that you were arrested and your home was raided for sex trafficking and child pornography," the O Magazine founder writes. "I can’t and don’t want to imagine an uglier accusation."
Winfrey admits that she was first "confused" by the lie.
"I'm in my bed in my PJs and socks, and somehow #OprahArrested is a thing," she continues. "My worst fear realized. Being slandered, accused of a crime I didn’t commit."
The longtime TV host goes on to note in her column that her upbringing led to her anxiety when it comes to false accusations.
"My fear of being punished for something I didn’t do stems from growing up being whupped for minor infractions," she writes. "Accidentally breaking a glass or a dish, getting my Sunday dress dirty, playing in a puddle with my shoes on. Just being a kid. I grew up trying to please everyone to avoid the whipping. It was hardwired in my head."
She adds, "And yet when a false rumor — or a vile, disgusting attack — is contrived and amplified through social media, I’m still hit with the same anxiety I felt as a child prolonging the walk to find a switch for my grandmother to lash me with."
Winfrey notes that in 1988 when she went on her talk show carting 67 pounds of fat around and talking about her weight loss, she feels she opened the door for public criticism and speculation.
"From that day forward, I was exploited regularly with false, crude, inappropriate stories about me and food," she says. "And then about me and Stedman [Graham]. And me and Gayle [King]. Anything and everything that could sell a tabloid. Every week, another lie to ignore or deny. I never got used to it."