On Thursday, the White House announced the list of people who will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Media colossus Oprah Winfrey is among them. We’d like to imagine that she found this out by looking under her seat.
The White House credits Oprah as having “long been active in philanthropic causes and expanding opportunities for young women.” But she isn’t quite the most high-profile person to get the honor. Arguably, at least, that would be former President Clinton.
Joining that particularly famous duo will be former Chicago Cubs star Ernie Banks, former Washington Post Editor Ben Bradlee, former U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii (posthumously), pyschologist and author of Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman, musician Loretta Lynn, scientist Mario Molina, first female astronaut in space Sally Ride (posthumously), civil-rights activist Bayard Rustin (posthumously), musician Arturo Sandoval, former University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, women’s-rights activist Gloria Steinem, civil-rights organizer Cordy Tindell Vivian, and Judge Patricia Wald.
One other interesting name on the list from the political world: former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind. Lugar served in the Senate until the current Congress, losing in a 2012 Republican primary to tea-party favorite Richard Mourdock. Mourdock went on to lose the general election to Democrat Joe Donnelly.
Oprah has long been a big supporter of President Obama. That was true even before Obama was officially running for president, like in 2006 when an appearance on Oprah’s show helped rocket sales for Obama’s The Audacity of Hope on Amazon. More recently, Oprah donated thousands to the Obama Victory Fund 2012.
The White House will host an awards ceremony later this year for the 50th anniversary of the Presidential Medal of Freedom’s establishment by President Kennedy.