WSJ Lauds Oprah for Conspicuous Consumption

When Oprah Winfrey addressed Duke’s 2009 graduating class at a May 10 commencement, she talked about the pleasures of being wealthy: “It’s great to have nice homes!… It’s great to have a private jet. Anyone that tells you that having your own private jet isnâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t great is lying to you.” “But,” said Oprah, “you haven’t completed the circle of success until you help someone else move to a higher ground and get to a better place.”

Wall Street Journal Wealth Report blogger Robert Frank wasn’t so interested in helping others part, but he really liked the part about how great it is to own your own private jet:

The golden nugget here is the jet part. In these times of hair-shirt capitalism and envy politics, the wealthy have been going to great lengths to pretend they donâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t enjoy luxury or want nice stuff. If Oprah were like most of the faux-populist rich today, she would have said something like: “I donâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t need private jets, in fact Iâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢m happier flying commercial and living in a small house. I like the simple life.” Of course, she would be lying.

But she didn’t. She told the truth, which is that flying in a private jet is one of the great material perks that money can buy. (Talk to anyone who used to be rich and they will say one thing they really miss is the jet. Apparently Oprah’s ride is a $42 million custom-build Global Express XRS built by Bombardier Aerospace.)

So Oprah says it’s great to be wealthy and it’s important to help people, and Frank applauds her for courageously acknowledging how great it is to be wealthy. But, then, what was I expecting? Frank writes the Wealth Report, “a daily blog focused on the lives and culture of the wealthy.”

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.