Book: 'Hard Copy' journalist: Oprah 'untouchable'

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 12, 2010; 10:41 AM

Kitty Kelley's just-released book "Oprah" contains a number of interesting media tidbits, including the tale of how a potential story about her got spiked.

Journalist Diane Dimond, who worked for the syndicated show "Hard Copy," conducted several interviews with Oprah Winfrey's ex-boyfriend, Randy Cook, in the 1980s, according to the book. On the show, owned by Paramount Pictures, "there wasn't anyone we couldn't cover," Dimond tells Kelley. "But I found out fast that Oprah Winfrey was definitely the one untouchable when Linda Bell Blue, my producer. . . . got a call from none other than Jonathan Dolgen, head of Paramount, who screamed and yelled until Linda promised to call me off . . . She told me that we could not be seen as attacking one of the most successful black women in America. . . . At that point I had to drop the story."

Oprah was sensitive to press coverage, according to the book, which cites Barbara Grizzuti Harrison's critical 1989 piece, "The Importance of Being Oprah," in the New York Times Magazine.

"Oprah was furious about that article," author Erica Jong told Kelley, "and she told me she did not want anyone writing about her, especially a white woman for a white publication. 'I don't need a honky magazine to canonize me,' she said." Jong was attempting to get Oprah's cooperation for a piece in the New Yorker.

The book describes Bill O'Reilly as "nearly apoplectic" in 2006 when he couldn't get on Winfrey's show to promote his book "Culture Warrior"--especially after Oprah interviewed Times columnist Frank Rich about his anti-Bush administration book. An unnamed Doubleday publicist is quoted as saying that the Fox News host called Oprah, told her she was being one-sided and "absolutely browbeat her and Oprah was so cowed that she agreed to have him on."

Perhaps the subject will come up when Kelley appears on the "O'Reilly Factor" Tuesday night.

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