Oprah for President? Cease and desist

by Walter Olson on September 25, 2006

Attorneys for the talk show host have fired off a cease and desist letter to retired Kansas City teacher Patrick Crowe, 69, over his efforts to draft her as a presidential candidate. In addition to demanding that he surrender his website oprah08.net (which lands visitors on this site) and give up his toll-free number 1-866-OPRAH08, the letter (courtesy Smoking Gun) insists (p. 2) that Crowe “refrain from using any and all references in any vehicle (including, without restriction, websites), for any reason, to Ms. Winfrey” or her properties. (Matt Campbell, “Quest to elect Oprah becomes publicity opera”, McClatchy/ Seattle Times, Sept. 23; Andrew Buncombe, “Oprah blocks bid to make her President”, The Independent (U.K.)/Belfast Telegraph, Sept. 22). Ann Althouse comments: “would Oprah be a good President? I think she’s too litigious.” (Sept. 24).

{ 2 comments }

1 CB 09.25.06 at 9:51 am

Ann Althouse also notes (and I agree) that it appears Crowe is using Oprah’s name and fame, without her permission, to promote his book and political views. If that’s the case, I don’t feel too bad for him.

2 Mike Perry 09.26.06 at 6:43 pm

A note on: “Ann Althouse also notes (and I agree) that it appears Crowe is using Oprah’s name and fame, without her permission, to promote his book and political views. If that’s the case, I don’t feel too bad for him.”

If that principle can be abused in this way, then perhaps we should, as far as the law is concerned, abandoned the idea that a celebrity’s “name” is worth anything. In my case, a celebrity endorsement is a giant negative. More often than not, fame seems linked to an odd blend of egotism and stupidity. Celebrities have so many people whispering nonsense into their ears, that they come to believe they really are better than anyone else.

A similar situation happened at Apple Computer (not to be confused with the Beattle’s ill-tempered and greedy record label) in the 1990s. Apple had an internal project that they named for Carl Sagan, the astronomer whose ego is apparently larger than any known galaxy. He threatened to sue them for using his name in such a light-hearted fashion. Apple changed the project’s name to BHA, which Apple employees swore (fingers crossed) did not mean “Butt-headed Astronomer.” Sagan threatened again and Apple, now far wiser about the egos of celebrities, gave the project a neutral name. Maybe that’s also why their current series of operating systems are named, internally and externally, for the large cats, the latest being Tiger. Cats don’t sue.

Perhaps someone should take this idea to its logical conclusion and start a “Oprah for Furher” website. It might fit her personality, or at least that of her lawyers, better than the rather chilling thought of her as President.

Can you imagine a Presidental press conference conduct like the Oprah Winfrey show? Within six weeks we’d be at war with Sweden.

–Mike Perry, Seattle

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