Oprah Winfrey touched on hysteria, truth, and “mean-spirited partisanship” — and nodded to those political rumors — in a commencement address at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in Los Angeles on Friday.
The media mogul urged graduates to “be the truth” in a world where “you can’t go anywhere — you can’t stand in line at Starbucks, you can’t go to a party, you can’t go anywhere without everyone talking about how bad things are, how terrible it is. And this is what I know: The problem is everybody is meeting hysteria with more hysteria, and then we just are all becoming hysterical, and it’s getting worse.”
Winfrey implored the group of more than 900 students graduating with degrees in journalism, communication, public relations, and public diplomacy to become “the new editorial gatekeepers, an ambitious army of truth seekers who will arm yourselves with the intelligence, with the insight and with the facts necessary to strike down deceit. You’re in a position to keep all of those who now disparage real news — you all are the ones who are going to keep those people in check.”
Winfrey also emphasized the importance of political activism, even as she playfully referred back to rampant rumors about her own political aspirations sparked by her speech at the Golden Globes in January.
“I hesitate to say this because the rumors from my last big speech have finally died down, but here it is: Vote,” she told the graduates. “Pay attention to what the people who claim to represent you are doing and saying in your name and on your behalf.”
Winfrey also left the students with a laundry list of goals, ranging from eating a good breakfast to recycling. But above all, she encouraged graduates to make an impact and to trust themselves.
“I hope you shake things up,” she said, “and when the time comes to bet on yourself, I hope you double down.”
You can watch Winfrey’s speech in the video below.