Oprah Winfrey is used to false, even ugly rumors. But there was one in particular that has haunted her, she writes in O Magazine. In March, the 66-year-old learned that rumors were swirling that she was being arrested and her home was being raided on sex trafficking charges.
The media mogul explains: “Imagine sitting cozily in bed, propped up on your favorite pillows, 240 pages into a riveting family saga—when you get a phone call telling you you’re trending on Twitter. And you discover it’s a bogus and vile story that you were arrested and your home was raided for sex trafficking and child pornography. I can’t and don’t want to imagine an uglier accusation.”
She admits to being “confused.”
Winfrey says: “I'm in my bed in my PJs and socks, and somehow #OprahArrested is a thing. My worst fear realized. Being slandered, accused of a crime I didn’t commit.”
“My fear of being punished for something I didn’t do stems from growing up being whupped for minor infractions,” she writes. “Accidentally breaking a glass or a dish, getting my Sunday dress dirty, playing in a puddle with my shoes on. Just being a kid. I grew up trying to please everyone to avoid the whipping. It was hardwired in my head.”
She adds, “And yet when a false rumor — or a vile, disgusting attack — is contrived and amplified through social media, I’m still hit with the same anxiety I felt as a child prolonging the walk to find a switch for my grandmother to lash me with.”
Winfrey believes that she may have opened the door to speculation when she went on her talk show in 1988 carting 67 pounds of fat behind her, and opening up about her weight loss journey.
“From that day forward, I was exploited regularly with false, crude, inappropriate stories about me and food,” she says. “And then about me and Stedman Graham. And me and Gayle King. Anything and everything that could sell a tabloid. Every week, another lie to ignore or deny. I never got used to it.”