The Mirror

Journalist accused of racism after cracking joke about Oprah’s ‘wig’

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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Earlier this week, President Obama awarded Oprah, the queen of everything good and right in the world (I’m going a little overboard here), the Presidential Medal of Freedom. So Commentary mag’s John Podhoretz made a joke about Oprah’s hair (or wig, whatever the case may be).

THE MOST OFFENSIVE TWEET EVER: “How many wigs did Oprah go through before picking her Medal of Honor wig?”

That’s right. He chose not to kiss the Queen’s foot and instead, mock her for her hair.

And the Outrage Police went wild.

He’s racist! He’s sexist! “That’s RAAAAAAAAAAAACIST. And sexist. (Preview of your mentions in a few minutes),” a follower warned him. Sure enough, that’s what ensued. 1. “Pro-tip: don’t make jokes about black women’s hair. Ever.” 2. “What a sexist racist LOW CLASS tweet. You right-wingers have lost any shred of common decency.” 3. “How many Medal of Honor awards have you picked up? Envy is an ugly thing.”

Envy? This is a dime store psychology favorite: Express something, anything, and clearly you’re jealous as opposed to really thinking or joking about whatever you said. “I envy Oprah?” asked Podhoretz to the collective idiocy. He continued, “If it’s racist to talk about Oprah’s wigs, is it anti-Semitic to make jokes about Shatner’s toupee?” And sarcastically, he added, “Apparently I committed a great evil mentioning that a 60-plus celebrity who is the most famous person in America wears a wig. My apologies.”

Except he wasn’t sorry. He later answered the question the crazies on his feed were dying to know: “Why did he make the remark?” He replied, “Because it was funny.”


Podhoretz may be those things (racist, sexist), but making fun of Oprah’s hair is pretty thin evidence. “You’re kidding right?” Podhoretz asked Insulter Number 3. “A joke about America’s wealthiest and most popular celebrity is beyond the pale? Seriously?” Number 3 replied, “When someone is receiving the Medal of Honor they deserve to be treated with respect – even if you don’t like or agree with them. Your inability to respect the honoring of accomplished Americans with the Medal of Honor is cheap, low class and toxic.”

In this case, I’m siding firmly with Podwhore. I don’t want to live in a country where we can’t make of someone’s hair for fear of being deemed a racist or sexist or any other ist. Waves of people online, including some partisan Washington journalists, spend their days being outraged over something (I’m looking at you Media Matters). And this week, they went after Podhoretz in a way that should make everyone uncomfortable.

Speaking of making people uncomfortable, I’ve got a suggestion. If Oprah does wear a wig, maybe Podwhore should do Oprah a solid and lend her the hair off his back. For her wig, of course.