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."