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Oprah Winfrey appears on the April 2019 cover of The Hollywood Reporter for the magazine’s first “Empowerment Issue.” She spoke on the 2020 presidential election, Gayle King’s acclaimed R. Kelly interview, leaving 60 Minutes, and the backlash she received for her involvement in HBO’s Leaving Neverland documentary.
Winfrey addressed the backlash she received from Michael Jackson fans following her “After Neverland” special, in which she interviewed Wade Robson and James Safechuck— two accusers who appeared on After Neverland, the HBO documentary chronicling the lives, experiences, and sexual abuse allegations against Jackson.
When asked about her decision to cover Leaving Neverland after it aired and the backlash she received, she said, “I don’t regret it.”
She continued, “I saw it, and I was shaken by it. I wasn’t even shaken by the fact that it was Michael Jackson, I was shaken by the fact that [filmmaker] Dan Reed had done a really good job of showing the pattern, and for years, I had been trying to show people the pattern.”
“I sent [HBO’s former chairman Richard] Plepler a text and said, “Look, I’m trying to reach some of your people. What are you all doing with this?” I really wanted to talk to not just the guys but other people who were seeing it because I knew that people were going to be triggered by it. I knew that there would be people who would be re-traumatized by it and would see themselves in it, and I thought, “I can help thread the needle of what is actually happening here.”
In “After Neverland,” she says, “For me, this moment transcends Michael Jackson. It is much bigger than any one person. It’s like a scourge on humanity.”
Winfrey famously interviewed Jackson live from his Neverland in 1993.