Lee Siegel in The New Republic:
Now celebrating her twentieth year as the host of the world’s most influential talk show, Oprah Winfrey is to television what Bach is to music, Giotto to painting, Joyce to literature. Time magazine hit the nail on the head when it recently voted her one of the world’s handful of “leaders and revolutionaries.” (Condoleezza Rice wrote Oprah’s citation: “She has struggled with many of the challenges that we all face, and she has transformed her life. Her message is empowering: I did it, and so can you.”) Like all seminal creative figures, her essential gift lies in her synthesizing power. She has taken the most consequential strands in modern life and woven them together into an hourlong show that is a work of art.
The boilerplate criticisms of Oprah–she exploits a culture of victimization that she did so much to create; she glamorizes misery; she amplifies already widespread narcissism and solipsism; she fills people’s heads with hackneyed nostrums about life–are correct, up to a point. But that’s not the whole story. Oprah’s critics write as if her goal of extending to her audience empathy, consolation, and hope were intrinsically cheap and cynical. On the contrary: The question is whether that is really what she is offering.
More here. And see the essay “As I Lay Reading” on Oprah by 3QD’s own J.M. Tyree here, in The Nation.