Here in Israel, we are able to receive television programming from other parts of the world, but often we see the programs weeks, months, or even years later than they originally were broadcast. All of this is to explain that the other day while “riding” a stationary bike at the health club, I saw an Oprah program that is probably not one that has been recently broadcast in the US.

On this program there were several couples that had one thing in common. In each, the husband was gay and had hidden that fact from his wife. In addition, all of the men had had liaisons with males during their marriage. As you might imagine, it was a fascinating show. Oprah asked all of the questions that curious people might want to ask including the most important one: Did the wife suspect anything? The answer in all cases was “no.”

All of this was interesting, perhaps inviting her audience to be voyeuristic, but isn’t that what TV is all about? However, it was where she went with the program that worries me.

She conducted an interview with a gay single man who showed on TV how easy it was to be propositioned over the internet by married gay men. In a period of several minutes, he had received something like five invitations. Then Oprah stated that there are millions of gay men married to women who have no suspicions of it. She said that many of you women in the viewing audience are likely to be married to gay men who are hiding the fact from you. She spoke in a very authoritative manner. People trust her. I was appalled.

Does she not realize what she did? Millions of women watch her, respect her, and buy books and products she recommends. Now, armed with frightening statistics, even assuming they are correct, she tells these women that they might find out that their husbands are gay. How many women from that moment on felt some doubt about their husbands? How many women began to rifle through their husbands’ pockets, wallets, and drawers? How many women began to question their husbands? How many women who used to feel safe and secure in their marriage are now wondering if and when they will find they’ve been duped.

It is one thing to present a problem on television. It is quite another to suggest to people that something over which they have no control and which affects the rest of their lives may be happening behind their back. Inducing paranoia is not healthy for a family or for a society.

Sorry Oprah, this time you made one colossal mistake.

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  1. I agree 100%. Another thing that Mary Pipher in her book “The Shelter of Eachother” writes is that TV shows expose people’s personal lives and deepest secrets and that becomes OUR entertainment. The hosts try to instigate fighting and disloyalty on the shows, and in this case, Oprah caused this to go way beyond the show. Disgusting. And these are America’s heros!

  2. frank spigel says

    It is very sad that Oprah has pulled these stunts. But I would like to know why these people did this on Oprah’s show. It makes me wonder what kind of conscience some people have. I rarely watch Oprah’s shows and she never has been a hero to me. One of my mother’s friends who used to live in Chicago found her repulsive