Oprah Is Getting a Presidential Medal of Freedom

So is Bill Clinton. And, posthumously, Sally Ride and Daniel Inouye.

U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey reacts during an interview in a session at the Jaipur Literature Festival in Jaipur, in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, India, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012. 
National Journal
Matt Berman
Aug. 8, 2013, 11:48 a.m.

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.

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