Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Not All Jewish Groups Happy with Talk Show Host’s Apology

May 16, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Not all Jewish leaders are satisfied with the apology made last week by Oprah Winfrey, host of the popular talk show, for featuring a mentally ill guest who claimed Jews practice ritual infanticide.

Winfrey and her producers met May 8 in Chicago with representatives of Jewish organizations, chosen by the Anti-Defamation league of B’nai B’rith, to mend fences and seek quidance to prevent potential recurrences.

After the meeting, Winfrey and her production company, Harpo Productions, made a statement of their own, and Jewish representatives drew up a joint statement of response to that.

On Monday, however, the American Jewish Congress released its own statement expressing dissatisfaction with Winfrey’s apology.

The statement, made by the group’s associate executive director, Phil Baum, found “inadequate” the program’s response “to the harm done by the dissemination by one of her guests of religious canards about Jews and Judaism.”

A joint statement by Jewish community leaders was not released until Friday, after everyone present at the meeting had read and approved the text.

It said, “We were satisfied that Oprah Winfrey and her staff did not intend to offend anyone and that Oprah was genuinely sorry for any offense or misunderstanding.”

Baum, saying Winfrey’s regrets “cannot possibly reach any significant part of the massive audience” that watched the program, suggested she make amends on camera “to make it plain to her audience that she regards all such comments with revulsion and contempt.”

Recommended from JTA