Saturday, June 26, 2010

Oprah and the Magic Touch

A friend sent me the links to the two stories here.

Did Oprah Rig a Contest: If you havent been reading our sister site (more like a nerdy younger brother) Geekosystem lately, you’ve been missing one of the more interesting stories going on lately in the worlds of television and the Internet. A couple of weeks ago, Oprah Winfrey started a contest to give one of her viewers their very own show on her new network. One of the contestants, a hilarious young man with cerebral palsy named Zach Anner, was heralded by the influential websites 4chan and Reddit (as well as celebrities like John Mayer) and rose to a seemingly insurmountable lead…until it was surmounted. However, Geekosystem writer Jamie Block used some great investigative reporting to find seeming proof that someone (quite possibly directly from Team Oprah) had rigged the contest to knock Anner out of the top spot!

Did Team Oprah Rig a Contest Against Zach Anner? We Investigate [Update], which is a follow-up story providing a deeper examination of the mechanics of how Anner lost the lead, a lead he's now regained.

Of course, Huffington Post confused the issue, blaming spambots.

And Oprah promises to investigate.

I dislike my own cynicism, but we've all seen things like this (appears to be) happen in the world before. That cynicism is based on my own experience in the world. "Don't hire him. He's in a wheelchair. He'll call in sick all the time."

I don't think there's a conscious conspiracy. I would guess some mid-level employee decided the guy with CP wouldn't be an appropriate representative of the Oprah brand, a decision generated by that person's subconscious fears.

As another personal note, the one thing that stinks about the affair is the continuous use of wheelchair-bound in the reporting, even apparently by Anner himself. 

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