Industrial Entertainment

Oprah photo from People magazine

Television personality and media mogul Oprah Winfrey has had a long-standing beef with the cattle industry. In 1996 Oprah fueled unreasonable Mad Cow fears by swearing off beef. Fifteen years and several lawsuits later, beef still seems to be in Oprah’s sights, so it wasn’t a big surprise that many protein companies issued a quick “no, thanks” when they were invited to be part of a show last February that featured Oprah and her staff participating in a “Vegan Challenge.”  Also featured on the show were the foodies’ favorite fiction writer Michael Pollan and vegan weight-loss guru Kathy Freston

Michael Pollan, Nicole Johnson-Hoffman and Oprah

The deck was unquestionably stacked, but the Cargill Company, realizing a lot was at “steak,” decided to call Winfrey’s hand and walked away from the table the big winner.  Cargill’s Fort Morgan plant manager Nicole Johnson-Hoffman was immediately catapulted from businesswoman to agri-media “rock star” as a result of her performance on the show.

The beef industry can now take some solace in the fact that they are not the only target the Oprah Media Machine is seeking to roll over.  I guess it seems a little disingenuous to me for Industrial Entertainment to be throwing stones at so-called factory farming, as they do in the November issue of “O, The Oprah Magazine” which features an article entitled One Woman Takes a Brave Stand Against Factory Farming

As the title implies, it is the one-sided story of one woman campaigning against confined feeding operations in Michigan.  I encourage you to read the article, but read it on-line at  Don’t buy the magazine – Oprah doesn’t need your money.

As you read the article it becomes apparent that writer Kathy Dobie is clueless when it comes to agriculture.  There’s lots of emotion and hyperbole, but no balance.  Most sadly, it deliberately pits “small farmers” against their “factory farm” neighbors – who are nearly all family operations, by the way – in yet another effort to claim the ethical and moral high ground. Sound familiar?

The way I see it, calling questionable farming practices to light is not the real issue here.  It’s more about vilifying those you don’t agree with to further your own elitist agenda – and maybe sell a few magazines along the way.


About raybowman

church of Christ elder, farmer, grandad, agriculture writer and broadcaster

Posted on November 10, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Great post, Ray! We need more companies and farms stepping up like Cargill did. Thanks for bringing this new O Magazine article to my attention.

  2. I’ll be sending a letter to the editor of O, The Oprah Magazine, and I hope others will also write to set the record straight. If we don’t, people will believe it’s true.

  3. Very well said! And thank you for sharing the O Magazine article. I would’ve missed it, as it certainly does not (nor will not ever) arrive in my mailbaox. I did a story once with a young farmer who represented the pork industry on her HSUS show a couple years back; he said the editing that was done to the show was remarkable. In real life, the audience was squarely on his side but it sure didn’t appear that way on TV. Another reminder that what you see is not reality.

  1. Pingback: Industrial Entertainment « Cattle Call

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