April 02, 2012 5:36am PT by Jordan Zakarin
Oprah Winfrey Appears on 'CBS This Morning,' Talks OWN Difficulties With Gayle King, Charlie Rose (Video)
It's rare to see Oprah Winfrey on the receiving questions side of the interview, and even rarer to see her having to defend herself or professional ambitions. Her Monday appearance on CBS This Morning, then, was already newsworthy before she even said a word.
Winfrey spent several segments on the newly revamped morning news show, joining best friend Gayle King and King's co-anchors, Charlie Rose and Erica Hill, in a discussion that centered on her struggling OWN cable network. Launched last year, the network has struggled in the ratings, recently ended Rosie O'Donnell's talk show and fired 30 employees. She was frank about the difficulties, saying, "Had I known it was this difficult, I would have done something else."
She also admitted that the network launched before they were ready, and that she has some major fixes to make.
"Our strategy is to do what we should have done at the beginning, and that is to build one show, one hour at a time, and then move on to the next night," Winfrey said. "What I wanted to create and will create is a channel and an environment where we don’t waste your time, it’s all meaningful."
Insisting that she tried to manage expectations for the network, but her world-famous name made that difficult. But having flailed for a year, she is dedicated to righting the ship.
"Because you failed at something – which we haven’t – but because you failed doesn’t mean you’re a failure," she said, adding, "I feel better about our network today than I ever have. The most painful thing was I had to let people go. I had to lay off 30 people."
Winfrey did not fire those 30 people herself; they brought in professionals to let people go. But despite all the difficulties, personnel and ratings alike, she vowed to continue her work with OWN.
"I believe that I am here to fulfill a calling," Winfrey said. "Because I am a female who is African-American who's been so blessed in the world, there is never going to be a time to quit. I will die in the midst of doing what I love to do. And that is using my voice and using my life to try to inspire others to live the best of theirs."
She also said that she would not be making major public appearances in support of President Obama's re-election effort. But not because she's soured on the President.
"I am 100% behind our President," Winfrey said. "I actually love our president and have the utmost respect for him and that office and what it takes to get there. I will not be out because I’m trying to fix the network."