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Some fans irked Oprah's getting political

Dec. 13, 2007 at 10:53 PM

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Media experts and viewers suggest Oprah Winfrey's endorsement of U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama could have a negative impact on her career.

Long considered one who unites, the talk-show host has built an empire on connecting with her audience and promoting positive messages and images. However, some critics think helping out a political candidate could divide her audience and cost her viewers, the Chicago Tribune said Thursday.

A note posted on an Oprah.com message board said, "Oprah is a traitor," while another pledged, "I will never watch your show again."

Although some fans think Winfrey should endorse U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. -- in keeping with her support of women -- others said she should remain non-partisan.

"I feel like she is trying to sway her mass following," said fan Karen Zmoos.

"The moment a star opens their mouth and endorses one candidate, they alienate half their viewership," Steve Ross -- a professor at the University of Southern California who is writing a book about celebrity endorsements -- told the Tribune.

"Stars are part of our fantasy world," Ross said. "And when our fantasy figures step off the stage and begin to preach politics, it's like throwing a cold towel over our faces."

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