Opinion Brief

Oprah's half-sister revelation: A 'publicity stunt'?

Turns out the talk-show queen has a long-lost half sister. But the timing of the revelation has some critics questioning whether Winfrey used it as a ratings ploy

The video: On her Friday show, Oprah Winfrey teased a "shocking family secret" that she said "literally shook [her] to the core." Fans, who've already learned that the talk-show queen was molested as a child, and gave birth to and lost a baby at 14, were in suspense until today, when Oprah announced that she recently discovered she has a younger half sister named Patricia, given up for adoption by Oprah's mother in 1963. At the time, Oprah was living with her father and was unaware of her mother's pregnancy. "I thought I'd seen it all," Oprah said of the news. "But this, my friends, is the miracle of all miracles." Oprah's half sister and mother appeared on Winfrey's show today.
The reaction: "The Queen of All Media did not disappoint," says Darren Franich in Entertainment Weekly. Meh, the announcement was relatively "boring," says Julie Miller at Movieline. "I expected a grotesque Mackenzie Phillips-like disclosure accompanied by fireworks, a John Travolta-led drum line and a 20-minute free-form speech on 'hope,'" but instead I got something that feels like a "publicity stunt" to "help revive interest in her brand and save those plummeting ratings that she does not care about." Agreed, says Lisa de Moraes in The Washington Post. On the heels of Oprah's "triumphant visit to Australia," it feels like she conveniently made this announcement "lest ratings lag this week." And though Winfrey claimed she wanted to break the news herself "so the media would not exploit it," isn't she doing the same thing by hyping the revelation? Watch an ABC report on Oprah's announcement, below:

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