2016 saw Donald Trump (TV host, producer, author, and film extra) enter The White House. This election victory has led many to question how someone with very little political background – bar a brief 2012 presidential run as a publicity stunt – could be raised up to such a position of power. A clever user of the media to raise his profile with voters, and now his constituents, Trump has transformed the relationship between the entertainment industry and politics.
Now, another celebrity potential president looks increasingly likely to topple Trump in the popularity polls. After her impassioned speech at the Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey is seen as a very favourable candidate in the public eye. Winfrey has received pleas to run for president for years, however a recent CNN poll has shown that a political career might be becoming more of a reality, as the star beat Trump by 9% in the results.
Winfrey told the media that her mindset has changed about putting herself forward as a candidate for 2020 elections after seeing another ‘celebrity’ enter the Oval Office. Winfrey commented that previously she had never considered the possibility, as she didn’t have the experience.
Trump, however, was dismissive the potential threat of the turn in public favour, saying to reporters ‘I don’t think she’s going to run’, but that it would be ‘a lot of fun’ to campaign against her. In a previous interview back in 1998, he actually suggested that if he ever ran for President, he would pick Oprah as his running mate.
Future Politics students should consider if the President of the United States should be perceived as an entertainer. Social scientists could explore to what extent US culture is created through television.