Hey -did everyone notice that Bloomberg News launched an editorial page this week? Well, like all good media do when they launch a new section and want to make sure someone reads it, they hired the great Virginia Postrel, late of NYTimes.com, The Wall Street Journal Weekend Review, and The Atlantic, to be one of their columnists. She's rewarding them already with a snappy, insightful piece on Oprah Winfrey's retirement that puts her into a broader context of how society has changed since her 1986 debut.
I absolutely adore how she brought iconic humor magazine Spy into the same context as Oprah.
Both Spy and "The Oprah Winfrey Show" sold gossip and personal stories. Both made their audiences feel like members of a club of superior people. Both were self-congratulatory. But the bases for their self-congratulation were, of course, very different. Spy and its audience prided themselves on being wised-up, clever and edgy; Oprah and her audience on being empathetic, optimistic and resilient. If "Oprah" was about uplift, Spy was about putting people in their place.
Her closer on Winfrey embodied a certain trend in American exceptionalism that has been with us since its founding - even as she criticized her - is another Postrel classic. She makes the obvious thought-provoking as she always has. I wish she could edit Reason, write for the Wall Street Journal, blog for the Atlantic and write for Bloomberg at the same time - but this will do.
Oprah-ism doesn’t foster nuance or critical thinking. Yet even at its most philosophically ridiculous, it does manifest a singular, and characteristically American, virtue: It moves forward. The past, it affirms, is over and cannot be changed. What matters now is what happens next.