Jackie Gingrich Cushman
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It’s no secret: Everyone who wants to sell anything wants to be a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show. They may not admit it but they do. Authors, experts, actors and politicians all hope and believe that, if they appear on the show, they will experience the Oprah effect, a rapid increase in sales and popularity from the 49 million viewers who tune in each week.

Oprah does a wonderful job of welcoming guests to her show. Only those people who are not authentic or who have something to hide need worry about a potential negative experience (just ask James Frey, the author of A Million Little Pieces). This can be contrasted with other shows (Stephen Colbert, Ali G or Don Imus), where guests know there is a pretty good chance that the host will get the best of them, but believe the media exposure is worth the risk.

Oprah stepped up her support for Barack Obama’s presidential bid this past week when she announced she will host a fundraiser for the senator from Illinois at her home on 42 acres in Montecito, Calif., aptly named “The Promised Land.” Congratulations, Senator Obama.

For $2,300 (the legal amount one person can give), you can attend the September 8th event. If you can raise $25,000, you can stay for a VIP reception. The full treatment, including dinner with Obama and Oprah, is reserved for those that can raise $50,000 or more.

There is not expected to be any shortage of guests willing and able to come up with and raise the requisite amounts.

Oprah set the stage for the event last October, when she introduced Obama to her audience this way: "My guest today is a shining example of what is possible if you live your life with fierce hope.”

That appearance helped Obama launch his book, "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream,” to the top of the best-seller lists. It stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 30 weeks. Today it is listed at number 30.

With three quarters of her viewers female, Oprah has the ability to reach voters in their dens and kitchens on a personal basis. Where President Roosevelt used fireside chats to connect with people during the war, Oprah has created a new, open, personal communication style.

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Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.