How the tabloids forced Oprah to stop stepping out with Stedman

For every successful celebrity that rises to the top, there’s a room of tabloid editors ready to take them down.

Oprah Winfrey has long been a tabloid target and she talked about that, among other topics, on Gwyneth Paltrow’s premiere Goop podcast on Thursday. What was surprising, however, was how the A Wrinkle in Time star, who has the money to buy up the tabloids and just shutter them all if she wanted to, admitted that she’s had to change her life — specifically her personal life with beau of a zillion years, businessman Stedman Graham — because of the magazines.

Winfrey talked to Paltrow about how she’s “lived every other week” in the tabloids, and recounted how Maya Angelou once told her that the stories in the rags didn’t actually have anything to do with her. “It has to do with whoever sat down at the computer at that moment,” O said. “‘What can we say that is going to sell some stories?’” However, she then admitted, “It’s also why I stopped making as many public appearances with Stedman — because I realized that every time there’s a new photograph, there’s a new story. It’s an invitation.”

“I picture it,” she continued, going on to imagine the inner workings of a tabloid. “They’ve got the pictures on the wall. What do we have this week? What expression do we have? What can we create out of that?

Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham
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Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham
Talk show host and actress Oprah Winfrey, recipient of the first Bob Hope Humanitarian Award at the 54th annual Emmy Awards September 22, 2002 in Los Angeles, relaxes with companion Stedman Graham at the Governor's Ball following the show. REUTERS/Fred Prouser REUTERS FSP
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham arrive on the red carpet for the Kennedy Center Honors at the Kennedy Center in Washington, December 5, 2010. Winfrey, former Beatle Paul McCartney, country music legend Merle Haggard, Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman of "Hello Dolly!" fame, and dancer-choreographer-director Bill T. Jones are being honored in this year's instalment of the annual lifetime achievement nods. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ENTERTAINMENT MEDIA)
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey reacts to the crowd as she arrives with boyfriend Stedman Graham for the People's Choice Awards January 11 in Santa Monica. Winfrey won Favorite Television Performer at the awards show. This is the third People's Choice Award Winfrey has received. The People's Choice is a show to recognize the public's favorites as determined by polling.
Oprah Winfrey, chairman of Harpo Entertainment Group, left, attends the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference with Stedman Graham in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Thursday, July 7, 2011. Media executives are gathering at Allen & Co.'s Sun Valley conference this week looking to shed assets such as the Hulu LLC video website and G4 game channel amid a declining global stock market and slowing economic growth. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WHITESBORO, NJ - AUGUST 30: Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the 20th Reunion Festival August 30 ,2008 in Whitesboro, New Jersey. (Photo by Donald Kravitz/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 4: (AFP OUT) Oprah Winfrey, one of the 2010 Kennedy Center honorees, arrives with Stedman Graham for the formal artist's dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors at the United States Department of State December 4, 2010 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 05: Stedman Graham and Oprah Winfrey attend 'The Butler' premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on August 5, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham arrives at the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
SANTA BARBARA, CA - DECEMBER 06: Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham attend the 'Selma' and the Legends Who Paved the Way gala at Bacara Resort on December 6, 2014 in Goleta, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham arrive at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 22, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

Can you blame her though? If you’ve ever even glanced at a rack of tabloids, you know exactly what she’s talking about. More than many other stars, stories about Oprah have dominated the rags for decades. All the way back in 1990, a relative received a paycheck from the National Enquirer for breaking the news that she had a baby at the age of 14. “I took to my bed and cried for three days,” Winfrey said in 2007, describing herself as “devastated. Wounded. Betrayed.” This one, from 2009, was about how she had three years to live.

She’s sued over stories. She’s gone public with very personal things about herself — that she smoked crack cocaine in her 20s and that she discovered she had a long-lost half-sister — to beat the mags to the punch. She set the record straight in some cases — like the one with her so-called “secret son” in 2015. She’s made fun of the ridiculousness of them.

Second to Oprah’s weight, the favorite topic of the tabs is her relationship with Stedman. They’re breaking up. He’s cheating. She’s cheating. They’re in a fake romance because the world won’t accept her closeted homosexual relationship with her bff Gayle King. She’s in a sex scandal. So. Much. Garbage. Let’s look at some of the more ridiculous headlines/themes about them over the years…

1. “New Oprah Shocker! Fiancé Stedman Had Gay Sex With Cousin”: We referenced lawsuits and this was one. In 1992, that headline led the pair to sue a Canadian tabloid called News Extra for defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress” after it ran a story claiming Graham “once had a gay affair with his own cousin.” The couple came out victorious.

2. The “marriage bombshell” that Oprah and Stedman were “Ready to Wed After Dating for 30 Years”: This one came out two years ago. They’re still not married. She said in August that they never will be.

Oprah and Stedman did not have a dream wedding in 2016. (Photo: Star magazine)

3. Oprah and Stedman split … over President Obama. 

There has been more than one cover devoted to an Oprah, Stedman, Obama love triangle. (Photo: National Enquirer)

4. Oprah and Stedman split … over Gayle.

For years Oprah and Gayle have said they are just friends, but that hasn’t stopped this. (Photo: National Enquirer)

We also noticed — “betrayed” is a favorite in all Oprah-related covers.

Oprah being betrayed — or betraying someone — is a common theme. (Photos: National Enquirer, National Enquirer, and Globe)

Tabloids bank on people caring about her getting married.

According to the tabloids, Oprah has been wedding planning for decades. (Photos: National Enquirer, Star, Star, and Examiner)

And if Oprah and Stedman cheated on each other as much as the tabs have said they have — they are getting a lot of action.

With it being International Women’s Day, it’s hard not to view this obsession with Oprah’s relationship as anything less than bizarre. She’s achieved so much professionally. On top of that, she’s held down a romance for 30 years. So maybe it’s time for the tabs to tackle new topics. And let the woman have a damn date night in peace.


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