November 19, 2011

Earning vs. owning your way on the Forbes 400

I was flipping through the Forbes 400 list of American billionaires recently, and I got to thinking about the relative balance of people who are the list because they own valuable things and people who are on the list because they've earned a lot of money. The Walton children are in the top 10 because they chose their dad wisely, so they are good examples of somebody who are on the list due to ownership. Consider Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, who retired from Microsoft in the first half of the 1980s when he got Hodgkins Lymphoma. I remember press comments that nobody ever beats that cancer, but he was among the first to get the modern, highly effective treatment. So, he earned some of Microsoft's early success, but wasn't around for his powerhouse days, from which he benefited by ownership. 

Michael Dell would be an example of somebody who started a huge company out of a dorm room and has run it, on and off, since. But, still, if he retired today, how much money would he have in 10 years? Assuming he's hired good second tier managers, probably almost as much as if he worked another 10 years. So, most of his billions come from ownership.

Another way to look at this is in terms of being irreplaceable. We had this discussion with Steve Jobs and Apple. My guess is that he was pretty irreplaceable during it's ascent, but, hopefully for Apple stockholders, will be reasonably replaceable in the long run. But, the majority of Jobs's wealth came from owning Pixar, where he wasn't hugely valuable except in negotiating with Hollywood sharks. Jobs did an outstanding job of keeping John Lasseter and Company free to do their thing, but the Pixar people weren't sorry when Jobs got his job back at Apple and didn't have time anymore to drive them crazy.

Which billionaire is at the the extreme of a person who earned just about every penny by getting out there day after day and doing the job? Which one was utterly irreplaceable? Which Forbesian's future cash flow is most dependent upon not retiring, upon personal effort from now on? My guess would be a pretty famous name, so I'll vamp while you try to guess.

Whose earning power among billionaires is least dependent upon owning corporate entities where others do the work and most dependent upon doing the work herself?

Is that enough of a clue to who has personally earned the largest fraction of her billions?

Yup, that's right, Oprah. She made her $2.7 billion less by founding or inheriting a valuable company or making successful leveraged bets and more by getting out there everyday and doing her job. She is the brand and the brand is her. 

158 comments:

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is that had Oprah taken the advice of her agents, she'd probably an unknown today.

They tried to convince her to be a Phil Donahue type of talk show host. She wisely declined and went with the 'spirituality' crap that proved irresistible to White women everywhere.

Whiskey can tell you the rest of that story and what it entailed for America.

Anonymous said...

If Dell or Oprah retired their wealth would both stay the same assuming they diversified appropriately. If Oprah wrote derivatives against her future paychecks, of course she'd be screwed.

Anonymous said...

Yup, that's right, Oprah. She made her money less by founding or inheriting a valuable company and more by getting out there everyday and performing. She is the brand and the brand is her.

Who could forget the insane cult that was the Oprah Book Club? When I worked in a bookstore, hordes of middle class women would come pouring in whenever O recommended a book. They'd often tell that this is the only book they'd read that month.

I don't understand how she was able to exert that much influence over people? What was it?

Podsnap said...

Oprah - every white woman's black best friend.

(not mine - not sure who came up with that)

Kylie said...

Ugh. In one of my periodic efforts to get in synch with the rest of my demographic, I tried to watch--and like--Oprah.

Could. Not. Do. It.

(And this was before I broke out of the liberal mold in which I was born and raised.)

Something about that "We're all in this together, girlfriend" smarmy sororal solidarity thing makes my fillings ache.

Mr Lomez said...

A friend of mine who worked for Oprah says Oprah possesses an inhuman amount of energy. She is everywhere at all times and always at her very best.

This brings to mind the post about Michael Milkin from a week back. Aside from their seemingly infinite reserves of get-up-and-go, both Oprah and Milkin probably share an IQ in the 130 range.

Another note about Oprah: all of her top people are super sharp "type-A" black women. Oprah is totally unapologetic and open about this fact.

Anonymous said...

As a foreigner and a bit of a snob, I could never quite make a peace with the Oprah phenomenon. So utterly low brow and stupid! I bloody hate evryone who likes anything Oprah-related.

Anonymous said...

Is Tiger Woods on this Forbes list? Whatever else you think of him, he's a billionaire who earned his money.

As for your question: "Which billionaire is at the the extreme of a person who earned just about every penny by getting out there day after day and doing the job?" Certainly no one on Wall Street, where criminal fraud is rampant and the biggest firms were run into the ground by their executives and then bailed out by the government.

Anonymous said...

One can think of other people who've earned billions by doing something other than managing, trading, marrying or getting born. Spielberg is a billionaire, isn't he? I think McCartney is a billionaire too, and I for one don't begrudge him a single penny. Best post-classical composer I'm aware of. Makes Oprah look prole, no-class, kitschy and stupid. If the government wasn't redistributing wealth from those who do to those who don't, she wouldn't have been able to get rich from her natural audience. McCartney would still probably be a billionaire - people of all IQ levels love a good melody.

J.K. Rowling would be in the Oprah category. I would guess that Michael Jordan has made more than a billion in his life, but that he's gambled and otherwise squandered away a good part of it.

Anonymous said...

Isn't JK Rowling a billionaire? Unless she had a ghostwriter she was probably the most personally responsible for creating the "products" upon which her wealth is based.

Anonymous said...

Whose earning power among billionaires is least dependent upon owning corporate entities where others do the work and most dependent upon doing the work herself?

A lot of the fortunes on the Forbes 400 are from real estate and energy. Much of the value in these sectors comes from mere ownership. If you, say, handed over the legal title to certain real estate or energy holdings to a mentally challenged or senile person, the capital gains could still accrue. Whereas if you handed over a dental license to the same mentally challenged or senile person, they would screw up their first patient's teeth and they would never work again as a dentist and thus earn no dental income.

Truth said...

"Yup, that's right, Oprah. She made her money less by founding or inheriting a valuable company and more by getting out there everyday and doing her job. She is the brand and the brand is her."

Did you really have to open the forum up to 97 "Oprah has no talent, she got her money through affirmative action" posts, Stephen? I mean, they would have come anyway in time...

Anonymous said...

Many entries in the Forbes or Fortune lists of the richest men consist of real estate billionaires, or individuals coming from the fuels and minerals industries or natural monopolies. Those who haven't inherited family fortunes have gained their wealth by borrowing money to buy assets that have soared in value. Land enables its owners to assert claims of ownership and obligation i.e. rentier income in the forms of rent and interest.

The US Federal Reserve Board publishes an annual balance sheet of assets and liabilities showing real estate to be the economy’s largest asset, comprising two-thirds of America’s tangible wealth. Land represents most of this real property (upwards of 60 percent depending on what assessment methodology is used). It therefore is hardly surprising that most capital gains are land-value gains.

What is less widely recognized is that these gains have been spurred largely by credit creation. On the liabilities side of the balance sheet, mortgage debt absorbs 70 percent of private sector bank loans. And mortgage credit in turn absorbs some two-thirds of the real estate sector’s ebitda – earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

The reason why developers are willing to pay their mortgage lenders so much of the rent roll (often their entire net earnings) is that they hope to emerge with a sizeable capital gain. This price appreciation actually is a “land gain,” as it does not represent a rising capitalization of profit on capital investment as economists use the term. It results from the value of properties increasing in neighborhoods that are upgraded, or from a financial bubble providing credit to inflate a real estate bubble. Political factors also enter the picture. Quantum leaps in land value typically result from rezoning, from farmland on the outskirts of cities to gentrification of the core to create high-income high-rise residential developments.

whorefinder said...

Oprah found a niche---slow-minded suburban women who took everything she said as gospel.

Oh, and she also had one other major key---she rarely did public appearances and/or interviews, and when she did she heavily controlled them. She was Streisand-esque in her control, except nobody ever was allowed to let on how controlling she was---Streisand, being weaker, couldn't help people slipping that she was a b*itch and paranoid control freak.

With limited, controlled media access, Oprah was unchecked by fact-checkers in the media, which allowed her sophistry to grow. If you couldn't question her, how could you play gotcha?

It's why she famously avoided David Letterman--and why he needled her about it. She was afraid, being the rude guy he is, that Letterman would find a soft spot and start gnawing on it, exposing her to 1) an emotion that would make her look less competent; and 2) expose some of her b.s. So she avoided for as long as possible, till Letterman's needles were making headlines.

It was one of the few media failures I saw in her. She would have done well to do what convicted felon/liar/inside trader Martha Stewart did---constantly go on the show and do straight Today-show like segments while Letterman tries to mock you---and ignore the mocks. Stewart managed to evade Letterman's powerful barbs and kept her soft underbelly intact by doing his show but ignoring whatever he said.

Shows why she got only a minimal time for her crimes.

Anonymous said...

Oprah Winfrey deserves every bit of money that she has earned. She is a highly likable person with exceptional talent. It is one thing to run a talk show for a day, a week or even two years. However, it must take some rare characteristics matched with some wise decision-making in order to do what she has done. It is like winning at the highest level, year in and year out. Something few people can do as there are so many things to manage.

I am not sure why everyone wants to rag on her. The bitching should be directed at RINOs not Oprah.

Message in the Bottle said...

"I don't understand how she was able to exert that much influence over people? What was it?"

People, women especially, are constantly searching for ways to improve their social status, preferably with little effort or risk to themselves. Associating oneself with Oprah is the perfect tactic in this regard: one gets the status boost of being perceived as a virtuous white saint who shares interests with the Noble Negress, while at the same time not having to actually talk to, live near, or otherwise interact with black people in any capacity. And Oprah and her corporate partners get to profit off of Americans' ever-increasing Philistinism. Everybody wins!

On a related note, I've been thinking recently about how little thought people put into their so-called "moral beliefs." The same people who 50 years ago would be just as RACIST as anyone you'll find on Sailer et al. are today saints crusading for the rights of poor, marginalized brown folk. What changed? It certainly wasn't anyone's level of introspection.

Quite simply, people follow the herd (what an insight, I know!). If the prevailing social view of the time is hating blacks (or, more accurately, just wanting to have nothing to do with them socially), white women will hate blacks, browns, yellows, hebrews, you name it, with a ferocity unfathomable to many men.

And if the spirit of the times is hating white men, then white women (not to mention everyone else) will hate white men. Did blacks, browns, yellows and hebrews do anything at various times in American history to be hated? Probably not. Did whites? I guess it depends who you ask. ;)

Dahinda said...

Oprah inherited AM Chicago which was previously hosted by Rob Weller. But she did turn that into the Oprah show and earned her way even though I never liked her show.

Dahinda said...

Oh and by the way, Roger Ebert suggested to her that she syndicate her show, which is how it became a national sensation.

Anonymous said...

There are two economies – the extractive FIRE sector dominates the “real” economy.

Most wage earners and taxpayers think of the “real” economy of production and consumption - “Economy #1”.

Economy #2 is the “balance sheet” economy of property and debt. The wealthiest 10% lend out their savings to become debts owed by the bottom 90%. A rising share of gains are made in extractive ways, by charging rent and interest, by financial speculation (“capital gains”), and by shifting taxes off itself onto the “real” Economy #1.

For 19th-century novelists such as Charles Dickens, it referred to property owners vs. renters. Today, it is finance vs. debtors. Any discussion of economic polarization between rich and poor must focus on the deepening indebtedness of most families, companies, real estate, cities and states to an emerging financial oligarchy.

I worry about how many people buy into the idea that “wealth creation” requires debt creation. While wealth gushes upward through the Wall Street financial siphon, trickle-down economic ideology fuels a Bubble Economy via debt-leveraged asset-price inflation.

The role of public spending – and hence budget deficits – no longer means taxing citizens to spend within Economy #1. Since the 2008 financial meltdown the enormous rise in national debt has resulted from the reimbursing of Wall Street for its bad gambles on derivatives, collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps that had little to do with the “real” economy. They could have been wiped out without bringing down the economy. That was an idle threat. A.I.G.’s swap insurance department could have collapsed (it was largely in London anyway) while keeping its normal insurance activities unscathed. But the government paid off the financial sector’s bad speculative debts by taking them onto the public balance sheet.

The economy is best viewed as the FIRE sector wrapped around the production and consumption core, extracting financial and rent charges that are not technologically or economically necessary costs.

Say’s Law of markets, taught to every economics student, states that workers and their employers use their wages and profits to buy what they produce (consumer goods and capital goods). Profits are earned by employing labor to produce goods and services to sell at a markup. (M – C – M’ to the initiated.)

The financial and property sector is wrapped around this core, siphoning off revenue from this circular flow. This FIRE sector is extractive. Its revenue takes the form of what classical economists called “economic rent,” a broad category that includes interest, monopoly super-profits (price gouging) and land rent, as well as “capital” gains. (These are mainly land-price gains and stock-market gains, not gains from industrial capital as such.) Economic rent and capital gains are income without a corresponding necessary cost of production (M – M’ to the initiated).

Banks have lent increasingly to buy up these rentier rights to extract interest, and less and less to promote industrial capital formation. "Wealth creation” FIRE-style consists most easily of privatizing the public domain and erecting tollbooths to charge access fees for basic necessities such as health insurance, land sites, home ownership, the communication spectrum (cable and phone rights), patent medicine, water and electricity, and other public utilities, including the use of convenient money (credit cards), or the credit needed to get by. This kind of wealth is not what Adam Smith described in The Wealth of Nations. It is a form of overhead, not a means of production. The revenue it extracts is a zero-sum economic activity, meaning that one party’s gain (that of Wall Street usually) is another’s loss.

Gb said...

"I don't understand how she was able to exert that much influence over people? What was it?"

How is it that some professional athletes are so popular that their endorsements of a sneaker causes mad rushes to shoe stores, not to mention the occasional murder for the shoes. It's not always the most successful athletes either. Some people can get that following.

ziel said...

I asked a question today on my blog - do any super successful people who succeed using their brains routinely thank the Lord the way star- athletes do? I was thinking of Buffet/Gates types but Oprah's an interesting test case with all her spirituality - has she ever out-and-out thanked God for her phenomenal success?

NOTA said...

My sense is that small companies have to do everything right plus have good luck to become very successful, but larger companies can largely cruise on their size and success for awhile. Though even wne you're large and successful, you can just go away or become much less important. DEC and Sun were once big', important companies in the computer industry, but now they're fading memories. People who owned stock in those companies didn't earn anything, toward the end.

The guy to ask about this would be Paul Graham.

ziel said...

My basic thesis is that star athletes grow up competing against their peers and find that their talents are beyond explanation - they're just so damn talented nothing can explain it - and they get to the big leagues and they're still better than most everybody - so they attribute their success to the only thing that makes sense - the Good Lord.

But Buffet and Jobs and Gates and Ellison and Oprah - and, hell, Conan while we're at it - how do they themselves explain their phenomenal success? I never hear them thanking the good Lord. Do they think "Well I just stepped in it - let's leave it at that"?

Luke Lea said...

That's easy. Buffet. Have you read his biography? The guy got a corner on barbershop pinball machines when he was still in grammar school, or something like that. Wasn't too honest back then but was gracious enough to admit it to his biographer. He reminds me of a great physicists whose physics is money.

ziel said...

Well I guess the answer is yes - that while Oprah seldom talks about Jesus on her show, apparently on her last program she specifically named Jesus as the key to her success.

"People often ask me what is the secret to the success of the show," she said. "How have we lasted 25 years. I non-jokingly say, my team - and Jesus."

So add Oprah to the list - but I'd be curious to know of any white guys who've been successful with their brains (who are not famous for being religious) attributing their success to God.

bjdubbs said...

Rich Kinder is pretty indispensable. He's the lawyer, failed motel entrepreneur, and former Enron GC who bet it all on a highly leveraged oil producer and low interest rates. Without his acumen, Kinder Morgan would be just another bankruptcy like Enron and his old motel.

Luke Lea said...

Opera? Well, ok, but that's big entertainment tv, and there are other talk-show hosts who work just as hard. What Opera has is a certain kind of social intelligence, and she is a genius in that department. Tiger Woods worked as hard.

To say Buffet is an owner, not a worker, would be pretty damn silly. Nobody worked harder identifying value. He was a monomaniac, driving to some god-awful corner of the Mid-West to look at a little unknown insurance company worth nothing, named Geico.

Harry Baldwin said...

Podsnap said...Oprah - every white woman's black best friend. (not mine - not sure who came up with that)

Whiskey said it during this discussion.
(I know it kills some of you guys to give him credit for anything.)

Steve Sailer said...

The funny thing about Paul McCartney is that for many decades he didn't own most of the songs he wrote due to a very bad deal Lennon-McCartney made when they were young. At one point, Yoko Ono was cashing a check for "Yesterday" and Paul wasn't, even though "Yesterday" is all Paul. That kind of thing motivated him to make lots of money in other ways.

ziel said...

The problem with Paul McCartney as an example is that he basically earned all his money prior to 1983 (his last hit with Michael Jackson). Let's admit for the sake of argument that his classical compositions are worthy (I liked Standing Stone, but haven't heard any of his other classical works) - he's no billionaire based on those even if he's the second coming of Berlioz.

So for the past 28 years he's been owning his wealth, not earning it.

ziel said...

Speaking of McCartney - didn't mean to dis him earlier. He is the only person who has had 3 Number One Songs of the Year on the Billboard charts - I Want To Hold Your Hand, Hey Jude, and Silly Love Songs. He co-wrote and co-sang IWTHYH, entirely wrote and sand Hey Jude, and Silly Love Songs was with Wings and co-credited to Linda, but obviously all Paul. The only artists with 2 songs are George Michael (give him credit - he wrote both his hits ("Careles Whisper" and "Faith")), John Lennon (he co-wrote IWHYH, but had nothing to do with "Hey Jude" other than initiating the divorce about whose caught-in-the-middle son the song was about) and Elvis Presley (who also got song-writing credits - but those were just credits). So that's kind of amazing - to have 3 when the odds of having even 1 are beyond belief. But still, that's all ancient history, now.

Anonymous said...

"...both Oprah and Milkin probably share an IQ in the 130 range."

My exposure to Oprah comes from waiting in line at doctors' offices and in hospital waiting rooms. Receptionists tune into her show on the wall-mounted TVs. No, she does not have an IQ of 130. It's higher than 85, but it's nowhere near 130. 130 is well into the MD range. Are you kidding me? Think of all the woolly-headed superstition that she peddles, no doubt sincerely. Smart women don't spout that.

"She is a highly likable person with exceptional talent."

I'm a guy, so having to watch her was torture. I'm guessing that one has to be an unintelligent woman to enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Oil and gas trader John Arnold pretty much made every penny himself.

Catperson said...

Oprah inherited AM Chicago which was previously hosted by Rob Weller. But she did turn that into the Oprah show and earned her way even though I never liked her show.

Oprah didn't inherit at a darn thing. AM Chicago was just a low budget local morning talk show that was dead last in the ratings. They begged oprah to host AM Chicago because the host they had quit and oprah was a smashing success in Baltimore.

But everyone told oprah she was crazy to go to Chicago. It was one thing to be a smashing success in Baltimore where the audience was black but the audience in Chicago was white and Chicago was an extremely racially polarized city at the time.

They told oprah it would be impossible to succeed because she would be going head to head against Donahue in his own hometown. To everyone's utter astonishment, oprah was successful IMMEDIATELY. AM Chicago went from dead last in the ratings to number one practically overnight. AM Chicago was renamed the oprah Winfrey show and went national, and oprah very shrewdly demanded ownership of her show so that she could have all the money and power her success generated. Upon going national she immediately became the #1 talk show in America, and managed to stay number one every day for a quarter century, in one of the most competitive, unpredictable and improvisational fields on earth and in the process brilliantly launched the national careers of Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, gayle king, Obama and really revolutionized the culture.

I agree with everyone that she's the most meritocratic and influential billionaire and her success is all the more impressive when you consider she overcame poverty, illegitimacy, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, drugs, racism, sexism, and fat phobia to become the billionaire Queen of all media. I can't think of any other person who has come from so little to achieve so much.

Thripshaw said...

I've never seen Oprah's show but I saw a few minutes of her on Skip Gates' PBS special where he identified the origins of celebrity DNA.

Oprah (who apparently did charitable work in South Africa) was convinced that she had Zulu ancestors!

My jaw dropped and I thought, um doesn't everybody know that American blacks originally came from west Africa?

Of course later in the program that's where her ancestors were shown to have come from.

Really, though, she's either appallingly stupid or completely ignorant of her own people's history.

She is, however, extremely wealthy.

edgy gurl said...

While you guys are rambling on unrestrained and uncorrected, I had a flashback of Oprah confessing that she'd sought a format change during one of her attic moments. It was a brilliant move, really. No one notices much if a white guy uses his talk show to trash white America. It might eventually, however, appear a bit mean-spirited for a black woman to be combing the country looking for screwed up white folks to exploit.

As ziel mentioned, I wouldn't be surprised if Jesus had, indeed, had a hand in Oprah's success.

Catperson said...

It's why she famously avoided David Letterman--and why he needled her about it. She was afraid, being the rude guy he is, that Letterman would find a soft spot and start gnawing on it, exposing her to 1) an emotion that would make her look less competent; and 2) expose some of her b.s. So she avoided for as long as possible, till Letterman's needles were making headlines.

It was one of the few media failures I saw in her


It wasn't a media failure because when she finally did go on letterman, it scored record high ratings, she got a massive standing ovation from the audience, was personally serenaded by the band and letterman gushed about her fir the hour and then personally escorted her across the street to the broadway play she was producing.

But you're right that she generally did avoid interviews which I think was very smart. Since she had her own super successful talk show and magazine, it's much wiser to communicate with the public on those forums since she can control them, rather than putting herself at the mercy of potentially jealous members of the media who may want to make her look bad. One of the dumbest mistakes Michael Jackson made was allowing Martin basher to follow him around with camera for months, leaving his whole life to bashir's interpretation and selective editing. In ended with Jackson being put on trial for child molestation.

Anonymous said...

"...and in the process brilliantly launched the national careers of Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, gayle king, Obama and really revolutionized the culture."

I was going to compare this to the achievements of the people who design and popularize new types of dope, but then I realized that some of them must be chemists. Chemistry requires expertise. It's a hard science.

This activity of hers is more akin to that of network executives and agents, who are generally despised even by their clients. When one listens to artists being interviewed, one sees that most of their venom is directed at that side of the business.

However, from the point of view of taste she's even worse than the average network executive because Dr. Phil et al. are worse than the average network show.

Anonymous said...

I asked a question today on my blog - do any super successful people who succeed using their brains routinely thank the Lord the way star- athletes do?


You should link to your blog.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Paul McCartney as an example is that he basically earned all his money prior to 1983


Well, no, he didn't. And even if he had done so, he still earned it.

Catperson said...

No, she does not have an IQ of 130. It's higher than 85, but it's nowhere near 130. 130 is well into the MD range. Are you kidding me? Think of all the woolly-headed superstition that she peddles, no doubt sincerely. Smart women don't spout that.

I suspect oprah is actually even higher than 130. To dominate a field as competitive, improvisational, creative and verbal as tv talk shows to the point where she achieved more wealth and influence than all other talk show hosts combined takes an enormous amount of brain power. And then to shrewdly translate her tv popularity into a billion dollar empire of cultural trendsetting and even presidential king making on top of that is pure genius.

As for the superstition she spouts, the fact that she rejected the organized religion she grew up on for vaguely defined new age spirituality shows a degree of open mindedness. And lots of brilliant people believe irrational nonsense because humans are emotional creatures, and artists like oprah are especially emotional. It's also doubtful that she actually believes most of what she preaches, she's just discovered a gold mine in this type of rhetoric and is very skillfully using her credibility to sell it to people looking to emulate her success. She's flakey and silly to relate to her target audience, but probable deliberate and calculating behind the scenes.

Kaz said...

@Whorefinder

Check her wiki, she's apparently had a tough life.

I could see why she would fear Letterman.

riches said...

Years ago The Onion featured a pie chart showing why people joined O's book club (sorry no tag):

http://www.theonion.com/articles/oprahs-book-club,7902/

Catperson said...

Forbes magazine also published an international list of all the billionaires in the world and Paul McCartney is not on it. He was rumored in the British press to be a billionaire but this is unlikely since he doesn't even own the beetles catalogue. The Michael jackson estate and Sony own the beetles music, and even Jackson was never close to making the Forbes 400 in his entire life.

Tiger woods is also not a billionaire. Forbes did proclaim him the first billion dollar athlete but that's a billion dollars BEFORE taxes. He has a long long way to go before acquiring a 10 figure net worth. Oprah is the only African American billionaire.

Anonymous said...

ziel, I'm sure that a lot of Paul McCartney's fortune comes from touring. He still tours, i.e. regularly shows up to work. As for the quality of his post-1981 songwriting output, I've always loved Beautiful Night, Calico Skies and lots of others.

Catperson said...

Oprah (who apparently did charitable work in South Africa) was convinced that she had Zulu ancestors!

That's because the first DNA test she took told her she was Zulu. Or so she claimed but it was probably just her attempt to relate to south Africans. She built her empire by relating to people.

Nanonymous said...

@ziel: re: McCartney

No, he wasn't idle for the past 28 years. He never stopped being a melodic genius. For example, his 2005 album is very good ("Jenny Wren"!) and his 2007 album is still better than all but one album by Lennon.

Catperson said...

However, from the point of view of taste she's even worse than the average network executive because Dr. Phil et al. are worse than the average network show.

No she's far better than the average network exec because dr. Phil is the most successful syndicated talk show since oprah herself. For decades network execs have spent millions trying to find the next oprah, trying everyone from actresses to commedianes to overweight black women but almost all of these shows flopped. Meanwhile oprah meets a bald Texas legal consultant (the last person anyone would envision as the next oprah) and has the vision to see his potential as a tv personality and brilliantly market him into the most influential psychologist in America. So not only does oprah have the skills to make herself the #1 talk show in America fir 25 years, but she also has the skills to select dr. Phil and dr. Oz, who became the nation's top talk shows the moment she retired.

Of course dr. Phil deserves a lot of credit for his own success. Though he's a little sleazy and opportunistic, his IQ appears to be off the scale. It's incredibly rare to find someone that quick, articulate and witty on his feet. The first time he went on letterman he absolutely obliterated him, despite having no comic background. Dr, Phil can run circles around virtually everyone when it comes to brain power. Over the years oprah had every pop psychologist in America on her show and felt none of them made as much sense as dr. Phil.

Anonymous said...

Another note about Oprah: all of her top people are super sharp "type-A" black women. Oprah is totally unapologetic and open about this fact.

Didnt know that.

I wonder if I set up a media operation and all of my top people were super sharp "type-A" white men. And if I were to be totally unapologetic and open about this fact how long that would be tolerated?

Anonymous said...

Anon - There are two economies – the extractive FIRE sector dominates the “real” economy.

Most wage earners and taxpayers think of the “real” economy of production and consumption - “Economy #1”.

Economy #2 is the “balance sheet” economy of property and debt. The wealthiest 10% lend out their savings to become debts owed by the bottom 90%. A rising share of gains are made in extractive ways, by charging rent and interest, by financial speculation (“capital gains”), and by shifting taxes off itself onto the “real” Economy #1.


Yes, indeed.

Im pretty sure Henry Ford talked about this;'Industry' and 'Finance' where his terms.

These days we are all encouraged to think of them as the same thing - 'business' but as you point out, they arent really the same thing at all.

ben tillman said...

Who could forget the insane cult that was the Oprah Book Club? When I worked in a bookstore, hordes of middle class women would come pouring in whenever O recommended a book. They'd often tell that this is the only book they'd read that month.

?????????????

I'm about the only commenter here who ever refers to books he's read, and even I don't read a book a mnnth.

Anonymous said...

Not to denigrate Oprah herself but isnt she the benficiary of the combined cultural/technological efforts of white folks, creating the medium for her success?

Steve Sailer said...

I read more than one book a month and see more than one movie a month, but I get paid to do so.

Steve Sailer said...

"I wonder if I set up a media operation and all of my top people were super sharp "type-A" white men. And if I were to be totally unapologetic and open about this fact how long that would be tolerated?"

That worked for Steve Jobs.

It's fairly random who can get away with that.

Catperson said...

People, women especially, are constantly searching for ways to improve their social status, preferably with little effort or risk to themselves. Associating oneself with Oprah is the perfect tactic in this regard: one gets the status boost of being perceived as a virtuous white saint who shares interests with the Noble Negress, while at the same time not having to actually talk to, live near, or otherwise interact with black people in any capacity

This theory seems incorrect in my opinion. First of all, men care more about status than women, second of all, there's no status boost from being a fan of daytime TV (just the opposite) and third of all, the type of white women who made oprah so influential were the working class who have no white guilt, not the educated politically correct elite. In fact that's one reason oprah's endorsement of Obama was so important. Obama was already able to monopolize the white guilt vote on his own, but he needed oprah to reach the working class Americans who dont care about having fashionable views.

Oprah gained influence over her audience because she was groundbreaking for her time, building intimacy with her viewers by sharing secrets like the sexual abuse she endured, the men who had done her wrong,her struggles with weight, and by crying on camera and holding hands and hugging audience members. She's one of the most original thinkers in public life and she single handedly created a culture of confession that made everyone from news anchors to bill Clinton more touchy-feely.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'd vote for Rowling too. Are there any broadcast media personalities that don't owe much or most of their success to management? Now, if there were any billionaire stand up comics, I could believe they were the real driver in their success.. though even Henny Youngman had a manager.

edgy gurl said...

"I'm about the only commenter here who ever refers to books he's read, and even I don't read a book a mnnth."

If you're honest about whether or not you can focus on reading not related to work, most of us don't read for pleasure that often, too many distractions. I tend to go on reading binges myself though there has been a year here and there when I was plowing through a couple of books a month.

As for the book club, the last time I noticed, Oprah's books were mostly good fiction that of course wouldn't require doing anything other than following the story line:; and I have known women who consumed at least one such novel a week, often typical of women. I'm assuming with the name Ben you are a male likely having somewhat different interests.

I am somewhat puzzled with the Oprah worship tonight. She's not the only person who's become wealthy in the entertainment industry which isn't known for genius IQs. Other character traits are much more salient in discussing O's success. For one you wouldn't want to leave out charisma. More central to the persona she's created though is integrity. You get the sense that Oprah genuinely wants to be a positive influence on her audience. So, as much as you'd like to attribute her success to presenting a skillful facade, I'd suggest the opposite is true. Oprah often shares relevant moments of her life including books she's enjoyed. It appears she grew weary of delving into the sensationalistic details of people's lives in order to make a buck. Anyway, after she'd become wealthy she could kind of afford to take a risk with her career.

wren said...

The B&B where I spent my honeymoon and visited about once a year after that got bought by Oprah, and then closed to the public.

I will never forgive her for that.

Steve Sailer said...

There might be, oh say, 10,000 people in America today who read Anna Karenina _and_ noticed it was better than what they normally read because Oprah selected it for her book club.

In the big picture, 10,000 is a small number, but it's huge compared to anything else would do other than a hit movie or miniseries.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'd vote for Rowling too. Are there any broadcast media personalities that don't owe much or most of their success to management?

But Oprah was the management.

Anonymous said...

If only everyone could read Anna Karenina... Doesn't sound very Steve Sailer to me.
Gilbert P.

wren said...

I read "Android Karenina" and noticed it was better than what I normally read for some reason. Great book! In a parallel universe Oprah is recommending it for her scifi book club.

Anonymous said...

A self made man who learns early how to leverage his labour/time is not the same as someone born to wealth. So your dichotomy between people who earn with their own hands versus 'owners' is not the only salient one.

Gilbert P.
Ps. No ill sentiments intended against people loaded from the get go. Chippiness has always been worse than snobbiness.

Traveller said...

As obvious, 99% of comments are around Oprah.

Any good Hollywood actor earn his money. Or sport star.

I do not know about writers income but successful writers deserve any money they make. Yes included Twilight books writer.

Who does NOT deserve money they have: politicians, any govt bureaucrats, middle hierarchy managers. Professors and teachers are highly overpaid.

Regardless it is billions or not.

Because the point is who deserves or not, not the actual amount.

edgy gurl said...

I miss the days when this was Sailer's blog. Not only are the posts not quite right, a whole cast of characters has mostly disappeared.

Oddly enough, the level of snark is about the same.

edgier gurl said...

BTW, are you sure you know enough to say that Oprah hasn't reached a level of wealth that won't maintain itself without her doing another day of work?

I mean you'd be surprised at the half life on money if you manage it well.

Also, from a comment upstream there, Only lower level employees end up with their retirement largely invested in company stock. Wasn't that what happened with Enron?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Phil appears to be some kind of crank. He and his son are obviously both weird-looking, fame-seeking asses. Phil almost has to have a military background. Men do not develop his personality or interaction style otherwise.

Oprah's continuously in therapy mode which explains much of what got picked for her book club. Nice she'd select a classic from way back and make it new again; Sad the greats had to compete with the likes of Wally Lamb.

It would be nice too if someone was monitoring the comments for accuracy. For months now people have been saying the wackiest things without being challenged.

The person pretending to be Sailer keeps making some typos very atypical of Sailer. Frankly, all the articles lately give the sense that you (not Sailer) just went with some vague memories: this time of "people famous like Oprah" and that you don't know much about running a corporation or managing wealth.

If Oprah hadn't gotten adroit at ownership strategies, she wouldn't be in the billionaire category. Plenty of athletes and actors who should be rich aren't. It's never just the job.

And Sailer's definitely not earning his keep getting paid to write about books he's read or movies he's seen. I'd find it easier to believe he was really Nicholas Wade blogging as Steve Sailer.

Again, RIP Sailer unless congratulations are in order because you left America behind to become a resident of the UK.

As for the rest of you, you could at least try to fake it a little better.

Darwin2 said...

Steve, I think the concept you are looking for, or perhaps hinting at, is "capitalizing the earnings stream."

If a person earns $100 million it is just $1000 million, way below the amount necessary for the Forbes 400.

But if he or she turns it into a company and goes public at, say, 20 times earnings, it has a market capitalization (value of the stock) of $2 billion (20X $100 million).

That's why to be on the Forbes 400 list you have to capitalize your earnings stream.

Harry Baldwin said...

Anonymous said..
It's higher than 85, but it's nowhere near 130. 130 is well into the MD range. Are you kidding me? Think of all the woolly-headed superstition that she peddles, no doubt sincerely. Smart women don't spout that.


I understand that Bill Clinton is a brilliant guy, yet all I ever hear out of him is liberal cliches, AKA "woolly-headed superstition." I assume he's figured out what is necessary to say in public to win over the booboisie, and Oprah may have done the same.

At the same time, I notice that the most successful writers, like Steven King and Danielle Steele, are not those who think deep thoughts. Despite his obvious talent, I wonder how smart Steven King really is. I saw some personal correspondence he had with a writer friend of mine, and his letters did not reveal unexpected depths.

Anonymous said...

re: Oprah's IQ of 130 or whatever got me musing about where her gifts truly lie. Though she doesn't strike me as the type who can churn through differential equations in a minute she does have a stereotypically feminine genius for social-situation management (sorry in advance to whichever commenter will run to Wikipedia and rebuke me with Correct HBD Terminology for that talent)

To succeed in mass media being genial and warm is often necessary but never sufficient. Big stars will come on your show if you're non-threatening, but only a skilled operator can make a lengthy career out of that. Sister O has an abbess's combination of shrewd personnel strategy and ironclad integrity with eyes-on-the-prize long-term discipline. Even Stedman ain't gabbing

Anonymous said...

Only caveat about Rowling is that, at this stage, her name's value far outstrips what she still contributes to the franchise, and she owns her name. Those billionaire authors have understudies/assistants who can knock out a good-enough facsimile of a "Stephen King thriller" or a "Danielle Steele romance"--I even hear tell that Willy Shakespeare engages in such marketing chicanery

Puppy Saga pt 6 said...

Oprah made 2.7 billion not by working but by playing everyday.
All those stupid Americans who really do work tuned into her show to watch her play.
For blacks, it was fun to watch a rich powerful black woman having so much fun interviewing famous people.
For white folks who are supposed to feel guilt over having forced blacks to pick cotton, it was therapeutic to watch a happy black woman have so much fun treating her studio like her own living room and inviting people over for chit chats while they themselves had to do real work 9 to 5.

The logic of Oprah can be found in FORREST GUMP. We are shown a black woman serving food to rich white folks again and again. But in the end, we see a white woman serving food to the black woman who is now a rich black woman. JUSTICE!!! Oh, aren't we such good wonderful people for wishing such fortune for a negress!!

Anonymous said...

*typo there with Danni Steel, I must have been thinking about the Chinese counterfeits

Puppy Saga pt 7 said...

"She wisely declined and went with the 'spirituality' crap that proved irresistible to White women everywhere."

Yep, it's a cult. She's a new age televangelist. Make Oprah rich and your 'racist' sins are redeemed.

Puppy Saga pt 8 said...

We should make a list of 'people who are too rich for their intelligence or ability'.

Oprah would be near the top.
Justin Bieber and 50 cents too.

Anonymous said...

"She's one of the most original thinkers in public life..."

Catperson, you've jumped the shark. You can't actually believe she's an original thinker. The vague New Agey nonsense had existed for decades before her. Mencken already made fun of it. The confessional "secret"-sharing stuff is simply an ageless female pastime.

A lot of pop cultural icons are good representatives of their audiences. This makes sense. It's their ordinariness that makes them relatable to the masses. I hope you don't think that J.K. Rowling is a great prose stylist, for example.

Puppy Saga pt 9 said...

"The funny thing about Paul McCartney is that for many decades he didn't own most of the songs he wrote due to a very bad deal Lennon-McCartney made when they were young. At one point, Yoko Ono was cashing a check for "Yesterday" and Paul wasn't, even though "Yesterday" is all Paul. That kind of thing motivated him to make lots of money in other ways."

Straight Dope on Beatles Music Library

Anonymous said...

30% of the 10 richest Americans are Jews. A disproportionate number of Jews are in the top 400. This stat must confound the OWS folks...

Anonymous said...

45% of the top 20 are Jewish

Anonymous said...

Isn't that the whole point of entrepreneurship? You create a business so that you own it and keep the profit instead of being paid by the hour? Not many people get rich by working for someone else.

Anonymous said...

Oprah is the poster girl for everything wrong in this country, but God bless her for making such huge coin out of nothing.

I'm kinda partial to Shecky Adelson. He grew up in the Jewish ghetto in Mattapan, and his net worth is more than the other casino guys put together.

guest007 said...

Oprah Winfrey does not have an IQ of 130.

On a show concerning the value of housework, it was obvious that Oprah had little understanding of micro-economic concepts. On several shows about education, Oprah has shown that she does not understand the concepts on mean and median and had no clue concerning statistical distributions. On a show concerning E-Coli and mad cow disease, Oprah demonstrated that she had no concept of risks and odds. The lack of understanding risk is especially odd for someone who flies by private jet.

People, like Oprah, can be ever talent on television and in handling people without being academically smart.

stari_momak said...

Didn't Michael Jackson buy most of the Beatles' catalog? A freak, but a brilliant businessman -- another black who gave whites what they wanted.

Whiskey said...

Anon -- back in the late 90's, when Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla went from KROQ's "Kevin and Bean" show to founding the Man Show, they said on KROQ that the whole point of the show was to criticize Oprah and the hold she has on Women. Its kind of interesting to see how many folks came out of KROQ: Dr. Drew, Adam Carolla, Jimmy Kimmel, Mike "Money" Smith, etc.

Puppy Saga pt 10 said...

"45% of the top 20 are Jewish"

What percentage of US wealth is owned by Jews? I'm guessing 40%.

Whiskey said...

Steve -- I think Apple without Jobs is doomed to a slow, GM like decline. Jobs was quoted in the recent bio that what made successful companies was an emphasis on design and engineering that met customer needs. And that decline happened when high personality, outgoing/dominant salesmen got into leadership because they could "move the needle" on sales and thus led to a sales-dominated company that could not regularly innovate past competitors to better provide for customer needs. That pretty much echoes Bob Lutz's "Car Guys vs. Bean Counters" book about the decline of GM.

Larry Ellison (Oracle) pretty much is the company. He's probably the main reason it is what it is.

What is interesting about Oprah is now her failures. The supermarket tabloids regularly feature "scandals" (Oprah's alleged lesbian girlfriends, fights with cronies) and her OWN network is failing. Basically everyone copied her model (fake non-White "girlfriend" to White women) and out-competed her.

As for male/female status, there's a big difference. Men compete for status by achieving things (best athlete, highest earnings, etc.) while women do so often by consumption (correct shoes) or moralistic type assertion of views/status. This is why guys will dress like slobs often around other guys, and women rarely do; guys don't moralize around other guys but deride ability/accomplishments. Compare/contrast the View with say, an NFL Pregame show.

Anonymous said...

We should make a list of 'people who are too rich for their intelligence or ability'.

1) Natalie Portman

2) Shia LaBoeuf [or however you spell it - honestly, I don't care]

3) Barack Hussein Obama Soetoro Dunham [or whatever his real name really is]

4) Michelle LaVaughn Robinson

5) <<< insert obligatory John Podhoretz joke here >>>

Anonymous said...

The lack of understanding risk is especially odd for someone who flies by private jet.

?

Thripshaw said...

I find it interesting and oddly coincidental that a post mentioning Paul McCartney brings out commenters who assert that Steve Sailer is Dead and that his blog is being written by an impostor.

If you listen to James Edwards recent interview with Pat Buchanan backwards, you'll find not just clues but Conclusive Proof!

Edwin West said...

Hmmm, sororal. Never heard that word before. Thanks, Kylie.

Anonymous said...

"I agree with everyone that she's the most meritocratic and influential billionaire and her success is all the more impressive when you consider she overcame poverty, illegitimacy, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, drugs, racism, sexism, and fat phobia to become the billionaire Queen of all media."

Oprah did not come from a poor background - this was made up and perpetuated by her (see Kitty Kelley's bio)

Also, the Mainstream Media was waiting for a black personality who they could mold "suitable" for the white masses. Oprah has a decent personality, but the "Oprah" phenomenon was created and perpetuated as "Tiger Woods" was...

Kaz said...

@Traveller

The only reason we have actors, tv personalities, and athletes so highly paid is because of the welfare state that the middle-upper middle class funds. They subsidize all the activities that the lower class engages in. Although these professions would still be paid quite highly regardless, just no where near the scale they are now. Some wouldn't be paid at all, like Kim Kardashian and other scum of the same ilk.

Also, do you really think private companies have middle level managers because they're all so charismatic and can't bring themselves to fire them?

Svigor said...

Wouldn't an insanely competitive field have high turnover?

Just sayin'.

Svigor said...

An IQ over (threshold here) would probably be a detriment to someone like Oprah, an energizer. 110-120.

Anonymous said...

"has she ever out-and-out thanked God for her phenomenal success?"

On her final show she ended it with "all Glory be to God".

Kylie said...

wren said, "I read "Android Karenina" and noticed it was better than what I normally read for some reason. Great book! In a parallel universe Oprah is recommending it for her scifi book club."

Love it!

Catperson said...

On a show concerning the value of housework, it was obvious that Oprah had little understanding of micro-economic concepts. On several shows about education, Oprah has shown that she does not understand the concepts on mean and median and had no clue concerning statistical distributions. On a show concerning E-Coli and mad cow disease, Oprah demonstrated that she had no concept of risks and odds

It's probably mostly your perspective that oprah didn't understand those things. Oprah's goal is not to have a stimulating discussion about statistical distributions, her goal is to keep the average middle class housewife from being bored out of her mind and switching the channel. If oprah were to engage in a discussion about those topics her audience would say "I can't relate to her anymore" and tune her out.

And even if oprah doesn't know what a median is, a lack of specialized knowledge does not preclude a genius IQ. I've met people who I knew were above 150 who knew nothing about statistical distributions because much like oprah, they grew up in the backwoods bible belt. If oprah doesnt know about statistical distributions and risks and odds, her brilliant business decisions are even more impressive, because she intuitively grasped what to do though pure g, rather than simply applying regurgitated stats knowledge.


Also oprah strikes me as having a very female brain so she's probably vastly more competent in verbal, social, non-linear creative intuitive thinking as opposed to autistic linear mathematical reasoning. She seems especially gifted at executive functioning. She's brilliantly at adjusting her body language, facial expressions and tone of voice to emphasize what she's saying and maximize the emotional impact of a given show. The two halves of her brain communicate extremely well.

I think it takes tons of intelligence to be a good talk show host. Thinking up all kinds of spontaneous ways to amuse people day after day, week after week, year after year, in the face of extreme competition. Knowing what would amuse people.

When oprah dethroned Donahue as the number one talk show host in America, one critic wrote:

"Oprah Winfrey is sharper than Donahue, wittier, more genuine, and far better attuned to her audience, if not the world."

Donahue probably has an IQ of 120 at the very lowest, and oprah's probably at least 1 SD higher.

As oprah herself put it "I was like a hit album just waiting to be released...the difference between Donahue and me, is ME!"

Steve Sailer said...

Re: KROQ: Most of the comic talent in America eventually moves to LA because you can make that leap from local radio to the Big Time.

Anonymous said...

Howard Stern never stopped reminding listeners that Oprah stole Donahue's show. And Stern was right. She plagerized it outright.

But Steve Sailer picks her out as the self made billionaire!

Meanwhile Buffett keeps wheeling & dealing as a true original and self made billionaire. Wall Street tries to steal his show but they can't do it.

Anonymous said...

"I think it takes tons of intelligence to be a good talk show host. Thinking up all kinds of spontaneous ways to amuse people..."

What SORT of people? Does she amuse you? I can't say she amuses me. These people are also amused by soap operas, Entertainment Tonight, romance novels, descriptions of celebrity weddings.

P Diddy, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Ludacris, Sista Souljah, Tyler Perry also amuse millions. On the less melanin-saturated side of things there are Rosie O-Donnell, Britney Spears, the ladies of The View, Tommy Lee and so on. Am I now supposed to consider all of these people smart? Why?

Steve touched on this issue some time ago in a post about Umberto Eco and Dan Brown. In order to entertain the average man successfully one probably has to be pretty average oneself.

Catperson said...

Oprah did not come from a poor background - this was made up and perpetuated by her

It's well documented that oprah came from a very poor background. Her childhood home is a well known tourist attraction. She was born in segregated rural Mississippi (the lynching capital of the world) in 1954 to an unwed teenage mother and raised mostly by her grandmother who worked as a maid. They didn't even have running water, plumbing or electricity.


Now it's true that when oprah refused to promote one of her relative's books, this relative trashed her to a tabloid biographer saying oprah exaggerated how bad her childhood was saying that oprah got a love, attention, and hand-me downs.

Oprah might have exaggerated to get sympathy, or her relative might be exaggerating to get make oprah look bad and make the family look better, but even the relative admits they were poor.

At the age of 6 she was sent to live with her mother in Milwaukee who was unmarried and on welfare and raising two other kids. Indeed oprah's mother was so poor she had a fourth child that she had to give up for adoption and oprah didn't even find out about this other half-sibling until about a year ago. This is her only living (half) sibling; the other two died very young because of drugs/AIDS.


At age 9 oprah was raped by a cousin, then molested by a family friend and at age 14, raped by her favorite uncle. Her family of course denies these incidents but there's no denying that shortly after the alleged rape by her uncle, she became pregnant at 14 and ran the streets.

Despite such trauma, she was doing so well in school that she was sent to attend an elite high school in the suburbs, as part of the upward bound program which recruited the best and brightest minorities into better schools. But being surrounded by such rich kids combined by being raped by her uncle caused oprah to rebel at home, demanding more fashionable glasses that her welfare mother could not afford.

Her mother tried to put her in a home for delinquent girls but there was no room, so she was sent to live with a Nashville barber who was believed to be her father (though he's one of several men who might be). She was forced to hide her pregnancy because her father was very traditional. The stress of having to tell her proud honorable father that she was pregnant sent her into early labour and the baby died.

Catperson said...


Also, the Mainstream Media was waiting for a black personality who they could mold "suitable" for the white masses. Oprah has a decent personality, but the "Oprah" phenomenon was created and perpetuated as "Tiger Woods



Oprah was not at all a media creation. She worked her way up through the ranks thriving on grassroots support. She started as co-host of a low budget show in Baltimore
and because that show was a smashing success she was asked to host a low budget show in Chicago which also became an immediate smashing success (despite being dead last in the ratings before oprah arrived) It was only then that she went national and once again she was an immediate success.

MQ said...

On a show concerning the value of housework, it was obvious that Oprah had little understanding of micro-economic concepts. On several shows about education, Oprah has shown that she does not understand the concepts on mean and median and had no clue concerning statistical distributions. On a show concerning E-Coli and mad cow disease, Oprah demonstrated that she had no concept of risks and odds.

Hilarious...clearly this billionaire is much dumber than the commenters in the HBD-sphere.

Puppy Saga pt 11 said...

"Howard Stern never stopped reminding listeners that Oprah stole Donahue's show. And Stern was right. She plagerized it outright.
But Steve Sailer picks her out as the self made billionaire!"

Every talkshow borrowed from Donahue. But why did only Oprah become superrich and famous? She understood herself and her audiences better--or maybe she had advisers who told her how she could really make a killing. While others sold sensationalism, she switched to hope. The original Donahue show was somewhat legit and serious, but maybe too cerebral and edgy, too much about ideas. Oprah focused on feelings, a kind of spirituality that made everyone feel the warm glow around the progressive mammy.
Btw, Stern stole the shock jock stuff from others too. Everyone 'steals'. The thing is what do you do with it.
My beef with Oprah is not she 'stole' but she sold something that is bogus, but white Americans are to blame for preferring goo to truth. Even Buchanan goes for shit like Forrest Gump, a pukeville movie.

Catperson said...

Howard Stern never stopped reminding listeners that Oprah stole Donahue's show. And Stern was right. She plagerized it outright.

Stern is just jealous of oprah, because she's on television, he's on radio. She's a billionaire, he's just a centi-millionaire. She's considered the Queen of all media, and he's the self-proclaimed king of all media.

Stern is correct that in the early years of her national career, oprah used to copy donahue's format (a host walking through the studio audience taking questions and discussing some provocative topic) but virtually every 1980s daytime host copied this format. Donahue invented a new genre of talk TV which became a booming industry once oprah started doing it.

But Donahue also copied those hosts who came before him. And what about all the late night hosts who sit behind desks and tell jokes. Are they plagiarizing the first host to ever do a monologue. In a free market, we want businesses to copy each other, otherwise whatever business has an idea first will have a monopoly and be free from competition and generated unlimited wealth. But if oprah can beat Donahue at the game he invented, then more power to her.

But aside from the format, oprah was a complete original who couldn't have been more different from Donahue. Donahue spoke like a reporter, oprah spoke like your best friend. Donahue spoke from the head, oprah spoke from the heart. Donahue explored other peoples lives, oprah invited you into her own sharing secrets and confessions and brilliantly building an intimate bond with viewers that no other talk show host could compete with. Donahue would pat you on the shoulder, oprah would give you a hug and hold your hand. Oprah singlehandedly changed cultural norms and broke taboos.

Anonymous said...

What percentage of US wealth is owned by Jews? I'm guessing 40%.

You couldn't tell this from the Forbes 400. The top 20 control less than 1% of all U.S. wealth, the whole 400 control less than 3%.

The top 5 percent of households have 80 percent of U.S. wealth, but there are 6 million households in the top 5 percent, so 400 people are not a big fraction of that group.

Anonymous said...

"Think of all the woolly-headed superstition that she peddles, no doubt sincerely. Smart women don't spout that."

No, darling, she just has to make YOU think she believes it.

Catperson said...

Wouldn't an insanely competitive field have high turnover?

Hello! It does. In the 25 years that oprah's been the #1 talk show in TV syndication, over a hundred syndicated talk shows have come and gone.

Catperson said...

P Diddy, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Ludacris, Sista Souljah, Tyler Perry also amuse millions. On the less melanin-saturated side of things there are Rosie O-Donnell, Britney Spears, the ladies of The View, Tommy Lee and so on. Am I now supposed to consider all of these people smart? Why?

Aside from Rosie O (who is VERY smart; once won celebrity jeopardy, talks at the speed of light, has a near photographic memory) none of these people are solo hosts of a talk show (the view has multiple hosts so only one of them has to be smart, the rest are dead weight). They amuse people by taking years to produce a single work of art and then unleash it to the public after constant revisions. This is very different from someone like oprah who just goes out every day and has a conversation, and makes it so spontaneous, compelling, relevant and entertaining that millions upon millions upon millions of white suburban women (she's not supported by people on welfare as another post implied) in the world's most powerful country hang on her every word for a QUARTER CENTURY despite extreme competition from all the people who see how much money and power she's acquired and want their slice of the pie


Hosting a talk show is very very hard. It looks easy because everyone can talk, but precisely because everyone can talk, and because so much wealth and power can be achieved, the level of competition is unfathomable. Some of the greatest minds in show business have tried, and they are shocked by how tough it is to have segments with a beginning, an end, and stay interesting the whole way through. And it's extremely difficult to keep up the interest, spontaneity, energy and humor five days a week, year after year.

Luke Lea said...

Merv Griffin was another t.v. talk-show host who made a ton of money -- by investing his earnings in real estate. I heard Bob Hope did the same thing. Where does Oprah invest her money?

Truth said...

"P Diddy, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Ludacris, Sista Souljah, Tyler Perry also amuse millions. On the less melanin-saturated side of things there are Rosie O-Donnell, Britney Spears, the ladies of The View, Tommy Lee and so on. Am I now supposed to consider all of these people smart? Why?"

Because intelligence in humans can be measured in much the same way it can be measured in rats: You are placed at the opening of a maze on high school graduation day, and a piece of cheese is placed on the other end. The goal is to be the quickest to the cheese. These rats found the cheese, and subsequently constructed a cheese-making factory, you are still sniffing a corner on turn 3.

Fayette White Guy said...

I'm not sure why everyone disses Oprah--is there something I'm missing?

Svigor said...

Steve touched on this issue some time ago in a post about Umberto Eco and Dan Brown. In order to entertain the average man successfully one probably has to be pretty average oneself.

One of the funniest people I know is obviously below average in the brains department. He's functionally illiterate. But he's quite entertaining and funny. And he's enterprising too, always got some kind of gig going, and is his own boss.

Anonymous said...

What the hell, Steve, you seem to have accidentally left a post on your blog where you say something complimentary about a black person, and its barely even passive aggressive. What the hell is going on?

Catperson said...

Steve touched on this issue some time ago in a post about Umberto Eco and Dan Brown. In order to entertain the average man successfully one probably has to be pretty average oneself.

By that logic you could argue that Shakespeare had an average IQ. Like oprah, shakespeare became one of the richest people of his time, entertaining the masses.

Of course it would be ridiculous to argue that the greatest writer of all time had an average IQ just as it's ridiculous to argue the greatest talk show host of all time is average. In many ways talk show hosting is a lot harder than writing because a talk show host has to be entertaining off the cuff while a writer gets to constantly revise, edit and do multiple drafts before unleashing his art to the public. And a talk show host is far more productive, creating hundreds of hours of entertainment a year.

Arguing that you have to have an average IQ to entertain average people is a bit like arguing you have to be retarded to be a good special Ed teacher. The truth is high IQ people tend to be better at everything, though they may be less motivated to do certain types of work.

NOTA said...

guest007:

That's not being stupid, it's not knowing statistics. Even very bright people have a hard time understanding that kind of thing without studying it a bit, which is why it pays to have very smart people study and use it, and have most everyone who can learn the basics. But that's not all that common. Both my parents are smart people who are also math phobes--I passed their understanding of math somewhere in grade school. They're not stupid by any means, but give them a problem involving probabilities, time value of money, or solving for an unknown variable, and they will not do well. Lots and lots of people are like this. (And some subset would look at my shameful lack of sophistication about the law or accounting or office politics and shake their heads sadly, the same way I do about their lack of math and science sophistication.)

Truth said...

"One of the funniest people I know is obviously below average in the brains department. He's functionally illiterate."

Now the interesting question is, how would this entertaining, entrepreneurial, versatile "moron" look at a man who spent mid five figures on college in order to make someone else rich, describe YOUR intellect. You should get him drunk and ask him.

Puppy Saga pt 17 said...

Compare 70s with 90s.

70s: Being There. A satire about how we fool ourselves into trusting and admiring a real fool. The relatively skeptical age of Donahue(though he was gaga about lots of trendy social fashions).

90s: Forrest Gump. No satire here but gushing worship of the dummy as saint. The mindlessly faithful age of Oprah.

I think Reagan's influence had something to do with this. All that 'morning in America' feel-good crap.
Yet, 80s were also one of the most cynical periods in US history, with yuppie materialism and MTV.
And 90s had Simpsons and Beavis and Butthead(and Howard Stern).

Just how do we square Gump and B&B?
Oprah and Stern? Are we all schizo, or do they complement one another. After laughing our minds silly with Simpsons and STern, maybe we need our souls cleansed by Oprah. Or, maybe some people find respite from gushy Oprahesque stuff in Sternism while others seek respite from Sternist filth in the warm nurturing boobs of Oprah. I dunno.

RKU said...

Well, I'm no expert in daytime TV or advertising, but here's my impression of what's behind some of the trends...

Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, most of the people watching were middle-class housewives, so the shows were stupid, but that not stupid. Then in the 1970s, they generally went off to work in office jobs, since two-income households became necessary. So by the 1990s and later, relatively few middle class people were around to watch daytime TV, and the balance shifted toward welfare mothers and other unemployed people, causing the shows to became enormously more stupid. Meanwhile, during this same period, the fraction of disposable income going to the most unproductive portions of the population greatly increased, and since these individuals are more likely to spend every dollar they get, they became a very desirable demographic for advertisers. Hence the vast fortunes being made by daytime TV stars and other entertainers who appeal to the stupidest elements of our society.

I'm not saying that the sole audience of someone like Oprah consists of extremely stupid people, but if she has a lock on the pretty sizable segment of really stupid daytime TV watchers, that will tend to give her the best ratings, thereby building her ratings and providing the advertising momentum to make her a hot media property and eventually attract lots of other people as well.

Anonymous said...

Theresa Heinz Kerry?

Anonymous said...

whorefinder said...

Oprah found a niche---slow-minded suburban women who took everything she said as gospel.

The same types of suburban women, who in the 80s and 90s, burned all the personal property of their children and sent them to Christian reform schools to "de-satanize" them.

dcite said...

"I think McCartney is a billionaire too, and I for one don't begrudge him a single penny. Best post-classical composer I'm aware of. Makes Oprah look prole, no-class, kitschy and stupid. If the government wasn't redistributing wealth from those who do to those who don't, she wouldn't have been able to get rich from her natural audience. McCartney would still probably be a billionaire - people of all IQ levels love a good melody."

The only time I ever watched a whole Oprah show (as opposed to snippets assulting me in the general environment) was when she had Paul McCartney on in 1997. She claimed she'd been a big fan as a young girl (did black teens like the Beatles?) and did seem a bit googly eyed over him; but she's good at that.
Though I never watched her but once, I have to say, she's good at what she does, and what she does isn't easy. She's not a profound thinker, and was certainly advised by some people-in-the-know about appealing to a certain demographic. Still, you couldn't haul just anybody out of the ghetto (practically where she came from) and make her a world renowned tv host, capable of talking to all and sundry far more coherently than the current potus can (without his teleprompter.)
Think how hard it can be just to keep dinner conversation lively & civil, when you are with strangers and don't know how they will act.
Don't know why she makes a billion dollars; but then nobody who gets that kind of money really "earns" it.
Just the thought of her show bores me to tears, but the schoolyard insults so often lobbed at her do sound sometimes like sour grapes. Nobody is forcing you to watch her.
Thank god.

Whitey Whiteman III said...

Sailer, are you drunk or stoned or something?

Your posts in this thread have been inane, if not feral and preposterous.

Anonymous said...

"What the hell is going on?"

a delusion of truth induced by a delirium of whiskey.

getting back on-topic said...

The Jonathan Franzen episode was one of the great SWPL "Awkward!" moments of our time. I have idly wondered what I'd do were I suddenly in control-- probably pick something cruel like "A Critique of Pure Reason" or Principia Mathematica

Anonymous said...

"She was born in segregated rural Mississippi (the lynching capital of the world)..."

An ignorant statement. The extrajudicial meeting out of justice by crowds is still practiced in many parts of the Third World. It would have been even more popular in those parts 60 years ago than it is now. I don't know what the lynching capital of the world was at the time of Oprah's birth, but I seriously doubt it was Mississippi. The Congo, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Thailand all seem like better candidates.

Anonymous said...

"You couldn't tell this from the Forbes 400. The top 20 control less than 1% of all U.S. wealth, the whole 400 control less than 3%."

So 0.00013% of population controls around 3% of total wealth. 23,000 times difference. That's one way of putting it.

Truth: "These rats found the cheese, and subsequently constructed a cheese-making factory, you are still sniffing a corner on turn 3."

Truth, how stupid do you have to be to not realize that of 100,000 roughly equal rats by pure chance there always be few that end find the cheese?

Anonymous said...

Truth said:

"Because intelligence in humans can be measured in much the same way it can be measured in rats: You are placed at the opening of a maze on high school graduation day, and a piece of cheese is placed on the other end. The goal is to be the quickest to the cheese."

OK, Truth. I'm going to agree with you on that. The Forbes 400 lists 400 richest Americans. Thirteen percent of Americans are black. If wealth tracked intelligence perfectly and Arthur Jensen was wrong about everything he ever wrote, one would expect 52 blacks on the list (13*4 = 52). In real life there's only one black person on the list (Oprah). Underrepresented by 52 times. It's like 100m at the Olympics, only in reverse. Guess which one is more important.

Oh, that was so easy.

"...you are still sniffing a corner on turn 3."

I think that crash I just heard was you ramming into the entrance door at full speed from the inside in the mistaken belief that it was in fact the maze's exit. The premature waving of the arms and taunting of opponents significantly added to the comedy, just like it always does.

Anonymous said...

Hey, cut Steve some slack, you guys. He's still adjusting to his new meds.

Truth said...

"Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, most of the people watching were middle-class housewives, so the shows were stupid, but that not stupid.... and the balance shifted toward welfare mothers and other unemployed people..."

Except that YOUR Flynn effect says that in the 1950s and 60s the middle-class housewives had the same IQ that the welfare mothers and unemployed people did in the 1990s.

"If wealth tracked intelligence perfectly and Arthur Jensen was wrong about everything he ever wrote, one would expect 52 blacks on the list (13*4 = 52). In real life there's only one black person on the list (Oprah). Underrepresented by 52 times."

Nope, not exactly Sport: Both you, and Oprah started the maze at the middle (she probably started a yardstick behind you, but we'll just assume for agrument's sake).

She got the cheese, you got a headache, now most of the Fortune 500 rats, on the other hand were dropped IN THE MIDDLE of the maze...

It's a pretty simple concept, really.

Truth said...

"Truth, how stupid do you have to be to not realize that of 100,000 roughly equal rats by pure chance there always be few that end find the cheese?"

No Champ, you don't get it; the maze test is still administered to rats bred for genetic changes to SEE if they are, in actuality, more intelligent than the control group.

Funny thing though; scientists have discovered that whenever a dark-furred rat comes strolling by with the cheese, the white rats start making "oh, he just got lucky", and "oh, the scientists must have given it to him", gestures with their whiskers.

Catperson said...

RKU, I don't think oprah's audience is stupid. Look at the success of her book club. No other talk show has an audience that would buy as many books as oprah's did. Part of this is oprah's marketing genius but the audience deserves some of the credit. And most of the selections were by challenging authors: Tolstoy, Faulkner, Toni Morrison, cormac McCarthy.

Also a stupid audience is not going to be interested in show that deals with abstract ideas like emotions, self actualization, the meaning of life, transgender issues, addiction, etc. Oprah's show was one big group therapy session and studies show high IQ people benefit more from therapy (and thus would be more inclined to watch it on TV) . A stupid audience would also be unlikely to cry along with oprah and her guests, as studies show dumb people tend to be less emotionally sensitive.

Even the new age spirituality oprah preaches attracts a smart audience. A lot of high IQ women want to reject the bigotry and dogma of organized religion, but are not emotionally strong enough to become atheists. Oprah brilliantly provides a happy medium.


Also look at all the advertiser funded free cars oprah gives away, once to ever member of the audience.. Advertisers obviously think her audience is rich enough to afford them otherwise they wouldn't be advertising on her show.

Oprah's audience consists of women who have husbands rich enough to keep them at home, college students, the retired, and people who work from home. The welfare types largely abandoned her for Jerry springer when oprah decided to abandon the trashy topics she did in the early years.

Jerry springer btw is also incredibly intelligent though he probably really does have a dumb audience.

Valco Blackman said...

I'm trying to understand the motive of some of these drive-by comments here today.

I'm guessing one person and some sock puppets, but it is annoying.

Udolpho.com said...

Because intelligence in humans can be measured in much the same way it can be measured in rats: You are placed at the opening of a maze on high school graduation day, and a piece of cheese is placed on the other end. The goal is to be the quickest to the cheese. These rats found the cheese, and subsequently constructed a cheese-making factory, you are still sniffing a corner on turn 3.

You are normally too unbelievably dumb to bother with, but most people don't make it their goal in life to maximize their earnings at the expense of every other priority.

Also you are a dumbshit who does not understand how winner-take-all systems work.

Udolpho.com said...

As usual, Sailer's commenters are very confused.

The biggest hint as to why Oprah is probably not a genius is the very fact that she's been on top for so long. An extremely high IQ host would always be second-guessing her middlebrow audience. Oprah, although obviously separated by a number of important distinctions, retains a bond with her audience because she is a lot like them.

The truth is, women are easily amused but they love consensus and are brand loyal. That's why they did things like flock to Oprah's book club selections, when without her imprimatur these people would have likely never had an interest in the material Oprah boosted. (And that material was consistently middlebrow, not the kind of thing a very high IQ person would willingly read.)

The crucial factors are taste and personality, not intelligence. Too often HBD nerds seem to think that IQ makes everything go round, when in reality it's only crucial to a small number of professions and there are even observable downsides to high IQ (an increase in neurotic behavior, for one).

Anonymous said...

most people don't make it their goal in life to maximize their earnings at the expense of every other priority.

Males do, but they rationalize that it wasn't their top priority if they end up failures.

Catperson said...

The biggest hint as to why Oprah is probably not a genius is the very fact that she's been on top for so long.

Actually that's the biggest hint for why she probably is a genius.  Staying on top longterm requires the ability to understand your environment and constantly reinvent yourself in innovative ways.  Humans are the smartest animal and we're on top of the food chain.    

An extremely high IQ host would always be second-guessing her middlebrow audience. Oprah, although obviously separated by a number of important distinctions, retains a bond with her audience because she is a lot like them.

But she's not like them.  Her audience is middle class white soccer moms from the suburbs.  She's an unmarried professional black business woman from the backwoods of Mississippi and the ghetto.  She couldn't be more different from her audience demographically, yet she brilliantly found a way to connect.  Her show is even popular with women in Saudi Arabia.  She mastered the international language of womenkind and practically invented it.  That takes intelligence.
    

The truth is, women are easily amused but they love consensus and are brand loyal.

Misogynistic nonsense.  It's actually men who are easily amused watching childish contests like wrestling, and obsessed with who can hit a ball with a bat the furthest distance.  They are also so brand loyal that they walk around with hats and jerseys of their favorite sports team.  Women on the other hand are interested in shows like oprah that discuss emotions, the meaning of life, therapy (complex abstract concepts). They like soap operas which have complex narratives and deep character development. 


That's why they did things like flock to Oprah's book club selections, when without her imprimatur these people would have likely never had an interest in the material Oprah boosted. (And that material was consistently middlebrow, not the kind of thing a very high IQ person would willingly read.)

Tolstoy, Faulkner, cormac McCarthy, and Toni Morrison are anything but middle brow.  And oprah was so obsessed with Toni morrison's most difficult book Beloved that she turned into a very underrated movie.  Beloved is a book said to be so nonlinear and metaphorical that even English literature graduate students struggle to comprehend it.

Too often HBD nerds seem to think that IQ makes everything go round, when in reality it's only crucial to a small number of professions and there are even observable downsides to high IQ (an increase in neurotic behavior, for one).

There might be downsides to ridiculously high IQ, but being above the mensa level is a huge competitive advantage in life.  The terman study proved this.  The truth is IQ is useful in every field, even unskilled manual labour.  As Charles Murray said, no matter how mindless a job may appear to be, there's always a smarter way to do it.  Viewers want a talk show host who can get to the point, ask the relevant questions, listen to the answers, add insightful commentary and be funny, witty and spontaneous.  All of this selects for high IQ in the insanely competitive world of TV talk shows.  If you look at all the best talk show hosts in TV history, they're all very quick.  

Puppy Saga pt 19 said...

"The biggest hint as to why Oprah is probably not a genius is the very fact that she's been on top for so long. An extremely high IQ host would always be second-guessing her middlebrow audience. Oprah, although obviously separated by a number of important distinctions, retains a bond with her audience because she is a lot like them."


You too are missing the point. It all depends on what one's goal is. If Oprah's goal in life was the Truth, then she was a big fool. But if her goal was fame and fortune, what she did was 'genius'. She was the PC Barnum of the Age.
But I think the real 'genius' credit goes to her handlers. But she was savvy enough to pick up the signals pretty quick. It's a shallow kind of 'genius' but effective. It required the blind side of white goyim.

In this sense, both Kubrick and Spielberg were geniuses in their own way. Kubrick in the search for truth and art, Spielberg in the search for money and power. They both did exactly what they needed to do in attainment of the goal.
Kubrick was genius of principle. Spielberg was genius of strategy.

This isn't to say Oprah's 'genius' is on Spielberg's level. Spielberg controlled everything he did and was the main author behind his projects.
Oprah, in contrast, was good at listening to top advisers.
But one thing both Spiel and Oprah have in common is the art of playing to the 'dummies'.
I still say some of Spielberg's mass entertainment movies are great stuff. But I've never seen anything of cultural worth in the Oprah show.

Anyway, what's been interesting in the 20th century is the alliance of Jewish wit, genius, intelligence, and cunning WITH black soulfulness, charisma, athleticism, sexuality, rhythm, mainly at the expense or in opposition to white interests, pride, and power. You see it in sports--owned by Jews, played by blacks(not least in boxing to beat up whiteys)--, music--many songs composed by Jews(of Brill Building)and performed by blacks--, politics--Jewish money and mind behind Obama the messiah--, morality--MLK myth machine operated by Jews--, Hollywood--Jewish-owned and now with many top black stars--, porn--Jewish managers and black studs pounding white women--, etc. This subject requires a book. Maybe the Stuff-that-black-people-don't-like guy should do it.

Anonymous said...

Now the interesting question is, how would this entertaining, entrepreneurial, versatile "moron" look at a man who spent mid five figures on college in order to make someone else rich, describe YOUR intellect. You should get him drunk and ask him.

Actually, this is one of the better points that T has ever made in these parts, and a point which many conservative commentators were making even before the "Occupy" movement - that while it might make sense to take on several hundred thousand dollars of student debt in pursuit of becoming a board-certified neurosurgeon - or even a dentist - it's the height of insanity to do so in pursuit of a degree in Afro- or Chicano- or GLBT-studies, or, for that matter, in almost any other major field of study being offered by the universities today.

On a related note, the fiscal economics of this insanity were discussed just last night at AoSHQ, and also a couple of weeks ago, in a blistering piece by Karl Denninger.

But getting back to T's point, it's why you've got plumbers netting [after expenses] six figures for getting themselves covered in other peoples' shit every day - and driving shiny new $50,000 pickup trucks as a result - but humanities/social science majors, from the confines of their parents' basements, fruitlessly [and increasingly hopelessly] sending out literally thousands of applications in search of any meager cubicle wage slave opening - and, meanwhile, driving [peddling?] second-hand mopeds to meet their friends at Starbucks.

Truth said...

"but most people don't make it their goal in life to maximize their earnings at the expense of every other priority."

You're right, MOST people, and the ones who do make magazine covers.

Svigor said...

Shakespeare is Shakespeare, and Oprah is Oprah. What does one really have to do with the other?

Arguing that you have to have an average IQ to entertain average people is a bit like arguing you have to be retarded to be a good special Ed teacher.

True, but it doesn't change the fact that arguing that you have to be smarter the more entertaining you are is dumb. William Hung just has to have an above-average IQ because he's more entertaining than the average person? And again, smarts tend to have a sweet spot for any given profession. There's a minimum suggested IQ for truck driving of 110, for example. I'd also suggest a maximum suggested IQ, beyond which a prospect would become bored and disinterested. If your work doesn't challenge you, you tend to find work that does. The idea of Oprah as some evil genius hiding her huge intellect under a bushel for ratings seems a bit of a stretch to me.

Just the thought of her show bores me to tears, but the schoolyard insults so often lobbed at her do sound sometimes like sour grapes. Nobody is forcing you to watch her.
Thank god.


I got no problem with Oprah. I just think it's absurd to attribute all of her success to her (she didn't create a network first, folks; this reminds me of Director-itis, where human nature dictates society worship ONE PERSON, but reality dictates that a team makes a movie), let alone insist on her IQ of 130+ based on her television show. I'd need to see something from her show that is obviously spontaneous (how the hell do we divine that?) and requiring 130+ IQ. Lots of somethings, actually. Hey, if she had an IQ of 130+, wouldn't someone have leaked some scores by now? Lots of gloating to be had for the usual suspects, if she did. Probably too tempting to forego if actually available.

Oprah's career is the culmination of experiments running rats through mazes to get cheese? We're comparing the media to science, now? We're comparing tv producers to scientists, now? Seriously?

Okay, where's the peer review? Where's the diagram of the maze? The list of rats run through it? Do we have any documentation at all?

If Mel McMoviestein, producer extraordinaire puts the chick he's banging into my next movie and it's a hit, he can tell everyone she "ran the maze to get the cheese," now? And she has to have a high IQ to have elbowed past all the other broads for the gig?

Also a stupid audience is not going to be interested in show that deals with abstract ideas like emotions, self actualization, the meaning of life, transgender issues, addiction, etc.

Holy shit...

A lot of high IQ women want to reject the bigotry and dogma of organized religion

Holy shit part deux!

The truth is, women are easily amused but they love consensus and are brand loyal.

Women cannot be brand loyal. That would undermine Cat's silly "hugely competitive" thing. How can one person dominate a hugely competitive field for 20 years (or whatever it is)? She's just that much better than the rest of humanity, damnit! Super-Oprah!

If only we could find a quarterback that good! 20 years of perfect seasons and superbowls!

and there are even observable downsides to high IQ (an increase in neurotic behavior, for one).

Right. I bet salesmen are a decent analogue to talk show hosts. IQ ain't the forte of a salesman, I wouldn't think. You want to be in the optimum range, probably, but beyond that the correlations are probably negative.

Truth said...

"If Mel McMoviestein, producer extraordinaire puts the chick he's banging into my next movie and it's a hit, he can tell everyone she "ran the maze to get the cheese," now? And she has to have a high IQ to have elbowed past all the other broads for the gig?"

No, not the first time, but if he puts her into the movie the 7th, 8th, 9th time, one could easily assume that it is because he's MAKING MONEY. The McMoviesteins of the world did not get to the position of being able to put the chicks that they are banging by losing it.

There are names for those "chicks they are banging" described above: Jody Foster, Kathleen Turner, Meryl Streep...

Anonymous said...

Catperson, you are embarrassing yourself. Oprah is not a genius. Updolpho has the best post on Oprah so far but I have some nitpicks.

"An extremely high IQ host would always be second-guessing her middlebrow audience."

That makes bad TV and the producers would not allow it even if the TV host hated his middlebrow audience. A middlebrow audience does not like being talked down to or constantly challenged. Imagine if Noam Chomsky or Christopher Hitchens actually had good personalities instead of vile ones, but they still retained their contrarian positions. If they hosted a Donahue-style talk show, the only audience they would have would be their die-hard acolytes. They would definitely turn off most of the middle class.

"(And that material was consistently middlebrow, not the kind of thing a very high IQ person would willingly read.)"

The majority of it was but you aren't being entirely fair to Oprah. Most housewives could not relate to Faulkner and Oprah realized this. That is why when she put some Faulkner books on her Book Club, she uploaded some Faulkner lectures on her website and had a Faulkner themed episode to explain the content and context of the books. On rare occasions, she would challenge her audience but not by much. She would never recommend something like Blake's Jerusalem. You can't fully appreciate a work like that by reading a Wikipedia entry or watching an 18 minute TED presentation.

Catperson said...

True, but it doesn't change the fact that arguing that you have to be smarter the more entertaining you are is dumb.

I think it's safe to assume that entertaining people verbally is a g loaded mental ability.  All mental abilities are g loaded, but verbal creative improvisation is probably more g loaded than most because it requires the ability to make unique connections.     

The idea of Oprah as some evil genius hiding her huge intellect under a bushel for ratings seems a bit of a stretch to me.

The idea of someone overcoming poverty and adversity to become the most successful woman in the history of the planet without having a huge intellect seems like a stretch to me.  This is a woman who literally has a MILLION times more influence than the average American, a woman who literally makes more than a THOUSAND times more money than the president of the united states.  If a level of success that superhuman can be obtained without a very high IQ, then us IQ aficionados need to pack it in, because IQ is obviously not measuring anything relevant; indeed it's not even measuring intelligence in any meaningful sense.  


I got no problem with Oprah. I just think it's absurd to attribute all of her success to her

With most billionaires I would agree with but in oprah's case, it really is almost all her.  The proof of this is AM Chicago was dead last in the ratings before oprah came to Chicago.  The moment oprah took over as host it zoomed to number one.  And she had no big staff behind her; her team consisted of only 2 girls and a gay guy.  Oprah had to get on the phone and book guests herself, she had to drive to dunken doughnuts herself to get snacks for the audience.  Not only was oprah responsible for her own success, but TV stations across America became completely dependent on oprah as the lead in for their 5 o'clock news casts and this is one reason they payed her so much money.  Now it's true that as oprah got richer she could afford to hire a big staff, but this did not make the show better.  Just the opposite, it began to feel too slick and produced, and lost a lot of the spontaneity and down to earth charm it had in the early years.

 Hey, if she had an IQ of 130+, wouldn't someone have leaked some scores by now? Lots of gloating to be had for the usual suspects, if she did. Probably too tempting to forego if actually available.

If any IQ score was available someone probably would have leaked it by now regardless of how high or low it is.

Women cannot be brand loyal. That would undermine Cat's silly "hugely competitive" thing.

Brand loyalty has little impact in television because people are not going to spend an hour of their day to watch a show unless it entertains them more than anything else on at that time.  The proof of this is the lackluster ratings of oprah's new cable network OWN.  A huge number of people initially checked the network out because it was oprah's, but upon finding very little of oprah herself on the network, ratings quickly tumbled.  This underscores Steve sailer's brilliant point that oprah's the rare billionaire whose empire depends uniquely on her.  This is a bit of a problem for her because she might want to retire and let the network stand on it's own, but viewers want more than just the oprah brand, they want oprah herself.  

Catperson said...

How can one person dominate a hugely competitive field for 20 years (or whatever it is)? She's just that much better than the rest of humanity, damnit! Super-Oprah!

Oprah really does seem to be a one in a million talent when it comes to hosting talk shows.  This video shows her in action:

http://m.youtube.com/index?desktop_uri=%2F&gl=CA#/watch?v=er-fi8mX1kc

  Steve sailer blogged that early in oprah's career, he had the chance to witness oprah greeting her fans.  Steve confirmed that oprah was the best he ever witnessed at this kind of meet and greet.

 I bet salesmen are a decent analogue to talk show hosts. IQ ain't the forte of a salesman, I wouldn't think. You want to be in the optimum range, probably, but beyond that the correlations are probably negative.

Talk show hosting is probably far more g loaded than sales, because a salesmen can repeat the same talking points to thousands of customers, but talk show hosts must spontaneously think up new things to say every day, under the critical eye of millions.  But even for sales, you would not find some IQ threshold beyond which additional IQ becomes unhelpful.  Jensen notes that the relationship between IQ and job performance appears to be linear throughout the full range if IQ and performance in all but the most unskilled jobs.  He dismissed the assertion you are making as a common myth.  

edgy gurl said...

"How can one person dominate a hugely competitive field for 20 years (or whatever it is)? She's just that much better than the rest of humanity, damnit! Super-Oprah!"


God, how old are you people? Super Dinah Shore would like to have a word with you.

Truthiness said...

Also you are a dumbshit who does not understand how winner-take-all systems work.

Translation: Udolpho is still sniffing the corner on turn 3.

Anonymous said...

Sailer, are you drunk or stoned or something?

Dude, it's the holidays. Cut him some slack. You're lucky he's blogging at all.

Udolpho.com said...

"Women on the other hand are interested in shows like oprah that discuss emotions, the meaning of life, therapy (complex abstract concepts). They like soap operas which have complex narratives and deep character development."

lmfao...this has to be a troll come on confess

Anonymous said...

"The idea of someone overcoming poverty and adversity to become the most successful woman in the history of the planet..."

Catperson, just as in the case of "the lynching capital of the world", you display a lack of world-historical perspective here. There have been many women in the past who single-handedly ran enormous empires. Take Catherine the Great of Russia, for example. She had far more power than any US president, let alone TV talk show host, because she was legally and actually an autocrat. She waged wars, resettled whole peoples, founded cities, etc. on a whim. Or one could mention Elizabeth I of England, Isabella of Spain, etc. The human experience neither starts nor ends with 20th century America.

"...but talk show hosts must spontaneously think up new things to say every day..."

What new things? It's all banal, boring, predictable stuff. It's like Glamor, Marie Claire and whatever else women read.

"If a level of success that superhuman can be obtained without a very high IQ, then us IQ aficionados need to pack it in, because IQ is obviously not measuring anything relevant..."

OMG. The relationship between IQ and income is a statistical correlation, not an absolute dependency. There's always space for some flukes. She's closer to the bottom of the Forbes 400 than to the top. Can you please quit inflating her importance? I'm sure that the relationship between IQ and success in hard science is closer than the relationship between IQ and income or the relationship between IQ and TV ratings. Success in hard science is a lot more relevant to civilization than income distribution or TV ratings. As far as I know, she hasn't applied her awesome gifts to the problem of cold fusion.

I'm not qualified to compare Oprah to Ricky Lake because I'm not borderline retarded, but I do have some observations about late night talk show hosts. As everyone knows, Conan O'Brien is very smart. Even if I didn't know that he went to Harvard, I think I'd still have figured out that he's the smartest one of the bunch. If you watch him for any period of time, you start getting the sense that beneath the buffoonery, he's typically the least childish person on his set by far. IQ-wise Jimmy Kimmel is probably second, Dave third, and Leno last. That's how they come off to me. Of course, career-wise, Leno has seriously humiliated Conan and Dave. They're both bitter because of it.

Svigor said...

IQ-wise Jimmy Kimmel is probably second, Dave third, and Leno last. That's how they come off to me. Of course, career-wise, Leno has seriously humiliated Conan and Dave. They're both bitter because of it.

Not possible. Leno's secretly a genius - you've all but proven it yourself. ;)

Svigor said...

One thing I like about this thread is how it, once again, shows T as a meritocratic racist: all success is earned...but we mustn't draw any conclusions about groups from the fact; all success is earned, but blacks aren't represented the way they "should" be because of discrimination.

Some of T's beliefs:

Positive discrimination doesn't happen.
Negative discrimination against whites doesn't happen.
Negative discrimination against blacks does happen.
All success is based only on merit.
Black collective failure is caused by discrimination.
Whites and blacks are cognitively equal.

Quite a maze you have to navigate there, T.

Catperson said...

But I think the real 'genius' credit goes to her handlers. But she was savvy enough to pick up the signals pretty quick. It's a shallow kind of 'genius' but effective.

If her handlers are so smart, why aren't they billionaires?

In terms of making the show a success, the credit goes to oprah.  This is proven by the fact that AM Chicago was dead last in the ratings,  but zoomed to number one the moment oprah took over as host.  So all the behind the scenes people were not able to achieve any success at all until oprah joined the team, and then the greatest talk show success of all time was achieved IMMEDIATELY.  Oprah was so successful so quickly, it was stunning even to her.  She arrived in Chicago and no one even heard of her, but after the first show, people were mobbing her on the streets begging her to sign $100 bills, police men were offering her rides to work.  Donahue was so shellshocked by hurricane oprah that he packed up his entire Chicago talk show and relocated to new York.  But the storm was about to go national.  

Another act of genius oprah deserves all the credit for was having the foresight to abandon the trashy topics that were all the rage in the early 1990s.  Oprah's ratings were four times her nearest competitors so her trusted executive producer debbie dimaio (who brought oprah to chicago in the first place) wanted her to stick with what was working,  but oprah sensed there would be a backlash against trash tv and with so many trashy shows all trying to get a slice of oprah's pie and the market would oversaturate itself.  But dimaio felt that if it's not broke, dont fix it, and that oprah was crazy to do shows about spirituality when her competitors were doing one night stand reunions.  The two women decided to part ways, and industry experts predicted oprah had made a grave mistake in letting dimaio go and not following her advice.  And initially ratings did slip when oprah abandoned trashy topics, but soon oprah was being praised by people like George w. Bush and Hillary Clinton for combatting all the trash on tv with a show so uplifting.  While her competitors like Jerry springer were considered scum of the earth,  oprah emerged as one of the most admired and prestigious people on the planet, and for years was the only daytime talk show A list celebs would be seen on, and they went on oprah even before going on nighttime shows.  Soon she was dictating the NY times best seller list with her book club, dictating who won the 2008 democratic primary with her endorsement, and launching the careers of Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz.

This isn't to say Oprah's 'genius' is on Spielberg's level. Spielberg controlled everything he did and was the main author behind his projects.

Oprah's genius is arguably far greater than spielberg's.  Spielberg just directs a lot of his excellent movies, he doesn't write the stories or act in them, and he has years to perfect his art before releasing it.  Oprah by contrast largely improvises the content of her show; acting as the defacto director, performer and extemporaneous script creator,  and she does it for hundreds of hours a year.  Oprah's had the number one talk show in America virtually every single weekday for a QUARTER CENTURY.  Spielberg only produces a hit movie once every many years.  A rare original thinker, oprah's influence on the culture is much broader and deeper than spielberg's.  She breaks taboos, single handedly created a touchy feely confession culture, serves as the nation's leading spiritual leader, literary taste maker and presidential king maker.  She's not only stratospherically wealthy, but stratospherically powerful and admired.  And unlike spielberg, she overcame poverty, adversity and discrimination to get where she is.  She really is in a class all her own.   

        

Anonymous said...

"As far as I know, she hasn't applied her awesome gifts to the problem of cold fusion."

Nor has anyone else on the Forbes list, for that matter. But it's especially true of Oprah beacause you said so and the nice blonde lady who writes the Harry Potter books found Higgs' Boson. Gee Steve, your site has devolved from its GNXP-style heyday into an Amren clone for shouty rednecks.

Catperson said...

Catperson, just as in the case of "the lynching capital of the world", you display a lack of world-historical perspective here. There have been many women in the past who single-handedly ran enormous empires. Take Catherine the Great of Russia, for example. She had far more power than any US president, let alone TV talk show host, because she was legally and actually an autocrat. She waged wars, resettled whole peoples, founded cities, etc. on a whim. Or one could mention Elizabeth I of England, Isabella of Spain, etc. The human experience neither starts nor ends with 20th century America.

Oprah served as the defacto queen of the most powerful country the world has ever seen at the peak of its power and she used her power to make a black man (0bama) the most powerful man in the world for the first time in history.  And on top of that she's the world's most admired billionaire at a time when a billion dollars can buy the greatest technological advances the world has ever known.       

What new things? It's all banal, boring, predictable stuff. It's like Glamor, Marie Claire and whatever else women read.

Extemporaneously  making banal boring topics so entertaining and interesting to millions and millions of suburban American women that they hang on your every word, five days a week for a QUARTER CENTURY in the most competitive and fragmented media age the world has ever seen,  requires stratospheric talent.

OMG. The relationship between IQ and income is a statistical correlation, not an absolute dependency. There's always space for some flukes.

For a mediocre IQ to rise out of poverty and adversity to achieve both TEN THOUSAND TIMES more income and a MILLION TIMES more power than the median American would be a pretty big fluke. If such flukes are common, IQ testing is a joke, and can arguably be dismissed as the measure of narrow book smarts, with little relevance to real world intelligent behavior.

   
She's closer to the bottom of the Forbes 400 than to the top.

She's right in the middle of the Forbes 400 and she probably overcame greater poverty and adversity than anyone else on the list.  She's also arguably the most influential billionaire in the world; the only one to virtually top Gallup's most admired people list for 22 consecutive years, the only one statistically proven to have elected a U.S. president (and the most historic president to boot), and as Steve sailer so brilliantly observed,  the rare billionaire who achieved billions through her own personal productivity,  and not just by owning the productivity of others.


  I'm sure that the relationship between IQ and success in hard science is closer than the relationship between IQ and income or the relationship between IQ and TV ratings. Success in hard science is a lot more relevant to civilization than income distribution or TV ratings. As far as I know, she hasn't applied her awesome gifts to the problem of cold fusion.

But a billionaire can hire 100,000 scientists,  and thus has the power to choose the direction of scientific advancement.  And since most people are far more interested in how to advance themselves then how to advance civilization,  we should expect a lot of good problem solvers to become rich and powerful and a lot of the most rich and powerful to be brilliant, if IQ is measuring real world intelligence. 

.

David said...

Is Catperson Oprah? If so, she is right about herself. ;)

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Truth said...

"Some of T's beliefs:

Positive discrimination doesn't happen.
Negative discrimination against whites doesn't happen.
Negative discrimination against blacks does happen.
All success is based only on merit.
Black collective failure is caused by discrimination.
Whites and blacks are cognitively equal.

Quite a maze you have to navigate there, T."

That's funny, I don't remember EVER writing ANY ONE of these things, much less all of them.

Sword said...

David said...
Is Catperson Oprah? If so, she is right about herself. ;)
------
Dang, I got beat to it! But in the case that catperson is not our dear TV-leader:
Catty darling, you can always watch reruns, rather than defending her against people who dislike her show. Now one is forcing you to be here, and it would probably feel better for you to pop in a rerun-DVD.

Catperson said:
But a billionaire can hire 100,000 scientists, and thus has the power to choose the direction of scientific advancement.
------
In the developed world, you can expect that the cost of a scientist - wages, taxes, overhead, supplies, etc. - would be in the 100,000 dollars/year range. Hire 100,000 of them, and you are looking at a cost of 10 billion dollars/year. Your hypothetical billionare would cease to be a billionare pretty quick.