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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Interview With Oprah Winfrey
Aired January 23, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
OPRAH WINFREY: You know, they tell me that Piers Morgan is a great interviewer. I can't wait to see how good he is.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": When it came to choosing my first guest for this new show, it could only be one person, the biggest, richest, most powerful star in the world.
WINFREY: I hear he makes people cry. I hope he doesn't go there with me.
MORGAN: And the great thing about tonight is that I get to ask Oprah Winfrey the questions that she likes to ask everybody else.
How many people do you absolutely, 100 percent trust?
WINFREY: Throwing yourself a party and get yourself a really nice gown.
MORGAN: Tonight's show, the one and only Oprah Winfrey.
WINFREY: Action. Hello!
MORGAN: Come in.
WINFREY: Hello, Mr. Morgan.
MORGAN: Tell me this. Do you ever get sort of surreal moments when -- I'm just trying to picture what it's like being you? When you wake up in the morning and you go, bloody hell, I'm Oprah Winfrey. Do you ever?
WINFREY: I don't do "Bloody hell, I'm Oprah Winfrey." I will tell you that I had a surreal moment January 1st once my new network launched, and I have been working, working, working with the whole team to make it happen.
And obviously I understood what that was and what the process was. It wasn't until we were here in Los Angeles and we were having a brunch on the morning of January 1st.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: Happy new year, everybody, and welcome to OWN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: And it had come on and I saw the logo and I'm standing there looking at myself. And I had a really like a -- what is that? That is a network. It's not just a logo. It's not just an idea. It's not just all the planning sessions we've had. Oh, my gosh. Then I started to cry.
MORGAN: Did you really?
WINFREY: Yes. I'm not doing it here with you, Piers. I'm not doing it.
MORGAN: Let's see a few tears.
WINFREY: I started with David Zazwell, my great partner from Discovery. David and I had a moment. I looked at him. He looked at me. And I welled up. I think there was a hint of moisture even in David's eyes. I could feel him feeling what this journey had been like for the both of us and what this really meant for me. It was the first time I really got it.
MORGAN: What does it mean to you to actually have a network in your own name?
WINFREY: I would have to say it is really difficult for me still to wrap my brain around what all of that really means. It's so funny. I got an e-mail from my friend, Gayle, who was at the party in Vegas with Jay-Z and Coldplay and all those guys.
MORGAN: As you do.
WINFREY: Yes. So she sent me an e-mail after she had seen it and said, oh, my god, there's real commercials like other networks. They are real commercials.
Gayle is like, I knew there would be commercials but the fact that you have commercials like other stations have commercials means it's really a network. It's that kind of thing where you are looking at it. I never loved commercials more than now. Every single commercial that comes up I go "Thank you, Febreze!"
MORGAN: I only got to know Gayle in the last couple of months when I started wooing you for this interview. And I absolutely loved her. I found her hilarious, incredibly protective towards you. I talked to her through e-mail. I got it. I got that this person was your great friend but your gate keeper. I had to persuade Gayle that I was trustworthy.
WINFREY: I think that's very smart of you to go through Gayle to get it. MORGAN: Sneaky actually.
But I had to get Gayle.
WINFREY: But listen, this is the thing about Gayle is that I think -- I'm so excited she's going to have a show on OWN now taking that radio show and bringing it to OWN, because the world is now going to love her as I do. You're going to see that she then becomes passionate, so passionate about me doing this interview, I go, do you know him?
Tonight she goes, no, I don't know him. What is the deal? What is the deal?
Why are you pushing for me to do this?
MORGAN: We had a seduction through e-mail.
WINFREY: Oh, my gosh.
MORGAN: How many people do you absolutely, 100 percent trust?
WINFREY: Probably five.
MORGAN: Who would they be?
WINFREY: I'm not naming them.
MORGAN: Can I guess?
WINFREY: You can guess.
MORGAN: Gayle would be one.
WINFREY: For sure.
MORGAN: Stedman would be two.
MORGAN: After that I'm struggling because I don't know your life as well as you do. Are they people that we would know?
WINFREY: Yes. But I have an inner circle of probably five or six people that I ultimately would trust no matter what. And if I were to be betrayed by those people, then I would say then I don't know.
There's a wonderful line in a Toni Morrison book that says "It stripped me of everything I knew." So there's certain people for whom if that happened I would feel like then I don't know anything.
MORGAN: I find it really moving when you went when you talked about Gayle on Barbara Walters. Everyone knew the background to all that. You dealt with it head-on. Typical Oprah, bang, nailed the lie, bang.
But you got emotional because I could tell what that friendship meant to you. You probably never had talk about it that way before in public. You lost it. I got it.
WINFREY: This is the thing. I knew what Barbara was going after. She was going after the rumors, which I'm never going to discuss again. That was it for me. So don't even try to go there.
MORGAN: I haven't even dared to go there.
WINFREY: That's it. I've addressed it. I've never going to discuss it again.
MORGAN: I wasn't even going to mention it.
But the crying moment came because the question that she asked, I knew what the answer was she wanted, but the question that she asked was something like, what does that friendship mean to you? I thought I'm going to answer that question. And if she wants to go to the other question, then she's going to have to go there. I'll force her to go there.
So when I thought about what that friendship means to me that is what brought the tears. And I'm not going to cry now. But it's pretty special. I really did mean that I would wish for every person on earth to experience somebody to care for them and to know them in such a way that they only want the best for you.
But to have somebody who is a friend, and you would know this too, that when you become famous and you have access to lots of different things, you know, a lot of people lose oxygen and they can't make the summit with you. And so to be able to have somebody who not only can make the summit but stand at the summit with you and rejoices in your being able to make it up.
MORGAN: What I would love to have seen when you were so emotional about the friendship is Gayle's reaction. How did she react to what you were saying?
WINFREY: Gayle didn't see it until we were actually in Australia. She said I'm in my hotel room watching the Barbara Walters -- she goes that's so nice. That's so nice of you. She goes, I want to meet Gayle King.
Gayle King sounds like such a nice person. I want her to be my friend. That is what she said. MORGAN: The thing I know about you absolutely unequivocally is that everything you touch is a hit.
WINFREY: No. That is not true.
MORGAN: Let's assume it is for a moment.
WINFREY: It is not true.
MORGAN: Could you just --
WINFREY: Go along with the program?
MORGAN: Could you just touch me.
WINFREY: Just go along with it.
MORGAN: I have got a hit. Oprah Winfrey has touched me.
WINFREY: I can tell you all of the times I didn't have a hit too.
MORGAN: Do you contemplate failure with OWN? Have you thought about that?
WINFREY: Are you kidding?
Piers, I thought about -- I have never contemplated anything more than I contemplated the decision to do this network.
MORGAN: I mean, now you have reached this -- I wouldn't say pinnacle with you --
WINFREY: I'm just getting started.
MORGAN: Exactly. Aren't we all? But when you see that, I suppose the contradiction is that oddly you are in a position with this network where you are possibly least in control. When I ran a newspaper, for example, when I got to be editor running the ship, actually half the time I didn't have any idea what is going on because it's too big.
WINFREY: Did you just say running a ship?
MORGAN: A newspaper is quite like a ship. It's like a big tanker.
WINFREY: It sounded like you said the other word.
MORGAN: No, I didn't. I wouldn't say that in front of you. It's like being in front of the queen.
WINFREY: Did he just say?
MORGAN: There are two people I would never swear in front of. One is her majesty the queen, and the other is Oprah Winfrey. You are the American queen.
WINFREY: Thank you for that.
MORGAN: It's my pleasure.
WINFREY: I'll accept that.
MORGAN: You are the nearest thing America's got.
Do you feel regal? Do like being famous?
WINFREY: That's a good question, provocative question. I'll give you credit for that. However, I'm not going to give you the answer that you want, and that is, you know, a yes or a no, like, gee, I love being famous.
No. Fame comes with the mission and purpose. You know, you cannot define me or try to put me in a box and you can't look at my life unless you look at the whole life. So I am a Negro formerly, born in 1954 in Mississippi at a time when it was an apartheid state.
And to sit here with you as your first guest in 2011 is a miracle that is beyond anything I could actually do for myself so there is something greater at work here and the thing that's greater at work, the force and forces that have made this happen in my life along with me working as hard as I have is -- it's bigger than I am. And fame is the vehicle from which I get to have this platform.
So do I like that? I appreciate it. If I had been what I thought I was going to be, and that is a great fourth grade teacher, I would have also liked that, because at the core of me I am a teacher. And I am happiest when I feel that people are getting something, learning something, enhancing themselves in a way that they never thought of before. That's really, truly one of my favorite moments on television or in any experience when I'm just one-on-one with a friend or somebody I don't even know, being able to share something with them and they think I never thought of it. Gee.
MORGAN: When we come back, Oprah on her life's mission.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: This isn't about me. I am the messenger to deliver the message of redemption, of hope, of forgiveness, of gratitude, of evolving people to the best of themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is "Piers Morgan Tonight."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GAYLE KING, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Hi, Piers. Gayle King here. I just wanted to wish you good luck with your new show. I can't wait for people to see it, because I've already seen it up close and personal. You are good. I can't wait for people to see them themselves. Congratulations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: You're going to Australia!
We are going to Australia! You are going to go to Australia!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: I will say that my experience in Australia was one of the most open-hearted, loving experiences I have ever had as a human being. I never experienced anything like that.
MORGAN: See, I feel huge love toward Australia at the moment because we just beaten them at cricket.
WINFREY: That's a different kind of love.
MORGAN: That's real love. I love every Australian passionately because we destroyed them at the sport they love most.
WINFREY: I'm not talking about that kind.
MORGAN: You don't like cricket?
WINFREY: Cricket is fine. But I'm talking about, you know --
MORGAN: I was being facetious. You were talking about Australia?
WINFREY: We went there. That moment this season where we --
WINFREY: Oh, my god, the moment when the thing went back on the studio and there's John Travolta in a jumbo jet. It was the most outrageous think I've seen in my life.
WINFREY: It was my crew.
MORGAN: It was unbelievable.
WINFREY: I have the best team on TV. They made that jumbo jet and had John Travolta come out -- MORGAN: Amazing. How are you going to beat that? You fly your entire audience in a jumbo jet piloted by John Travolta to Australia. How do you beat that?
WINFREY: Actually it was not piloted by John.
MORGAN: I know. So it looked like he was going to.
WINFREY: It did. At the time we thought maybe he will. But he was fantastically gracious about it. And I never saw anything like that. That was actually for me bigger than the car moment years ago.
MORGAN: It was the single greatest stunt I have ever seen. And your face, you were squealing larger than they were.
WINFREY: I don't like the word "stunt," Piers.
MORGAN: Of course. What can we call it? Spiritual moment?
WINFREY: No, don't go there.
It wasn't that either. It was just great moment. It wasn't a stunt.
MORGAN: Of course not. Perish the thought.
WINFREY: It wasn't a stunt.
MORGAN: I take it back.
MORGAN: Are you a tough boss?
WINFREY: No, I'm not a tough boss. I don't think I am a tough boss at all.
MORGAN: Are you demanding in the quality that you want produced, especially now that you have a network? Network bosses have to be tough.
WINFREY: I don't think that's tough. Might you define your definition of "tough"?
MORGAN: I suppose demanding. Not necessarily shouting at people. I don't think you're that kind.
WINFREY: I never shout.
MORGAN: I bet you're a perfectionist. WINFREY: I don't shout. I wouldn't even say perfectionist. I don't shout and I don't allow people around me who do shout because that changes the energy of your ability to do well. I'm really, really, really keen on the energy that you bring into my space, whether it's my home or my work environment, really, really keen. I don't go for shouters.
MORGAN: Where would you say you're tough?
WINFREY: I would say that I'm tough in that I'm always looking for the best in myself and I want you to also present that for yourself and for the overall goal that we share if you are working for me.
MORGAN: What I like about you is there's always tough love from you. You say you can't keep going on holidays if you have no money.
WINFREY: It isn't even tough love as much as it is, you know, I'm very clear about what my role and purpose is. This isn't about me. I am the messenger to deliver the message of redemption, of hope, of forgiveness, of gratitude, of evolving people to the best of themselves. So I am on my personal journey. My personal journey is to fulfill the highest expression of myself here as a human being here on earth.
MORGAN: What advice would you give Michael Vick?
WINFREY: What advice? You know, I don't want to talk about Michael Vick because I am trying to interview him.
I love that honesty about you.
WINFREY: So I will just save all my advice for when I sit down with him. I know you are trying to interview him.
MORGAN: I'm trying to get him as well. One of us is going to win.
WINFREY: One of us is.
MORGAN: Do you want wager?
MORGAN: One-hundred British pounds says I get Vick before you.
MORGAN: One-hundred. You can afford it.
WINFREY: Make it two.
MORGAN: Two-hundred. You're done.
WINFREY: OK. There you go.
MORGAN: You don't like losing though, do you?
WINFREY: It's OK. You know, it's OK.
MORGAN: I'm preparing you for the inevitable.
WINFREY: It's OK if it's an interview. I really feel this way about interviews. I have never been in that arena where you, quote, are trying to knock down the other person to be the first person to get somebody, because I think the way I live my life is if it's supposed to happen, it will happen.
And if Michael Vick chooses to sit with you as his first interview and not sit with me, then that's the way it's supposed to be, and god bless him in that.
MORGAN: God bless him if he sits down with me.
WINFREY: Don't call me later, Mike.
MORGAN: See, I always dreamt one day of being a rival. This is exciting for me. The fact you are admitting I might be is good enough for me.
WINFREY: But no, that's the thing. It's not about that for me. I'm not here to try to be the first or get the --
MORGAN: It's easy for you to say because you always win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming up.
MORGAN: What's been one of the most hurtful things you've had to hear or read about yourself?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More "Piers Morgan Tonight" coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Everything Oprah touches turns to gold. A top talk show for 25 years, millions reading her magazine, and now she has her own network.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: I know you hate this phrase but what is your brand do you think?
WINFREY: I'm the love brand.
MORGAN: Aren't we all, darling?
WINFREY: I'm of love brand.
MORGAN: You like to shower love around?
WINFREY: That's really what it is. I'm the love and connection brand. That's what I am.
MORGAN: You're a bit like Barry White was the love god. You are the love brand.
WINFREY: I'm of love brand, because ultimately, everything I'm saying whether it's in my magazine, whether it's Gayle on the radio, whether it's the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and everything now about the channel OWN is about opening your space, your heart space, so that you can love more. That's really all money is for. Money is worth nothing if it can't buy you the opportunity to love more.
MORGAN: How many times have you been properly in love?
WINFREY: Boy, you're good. You are good.
MORGAN: Thank you.
WINFREY: I'm not just trying to flatter you. That's good. That's good. That's good.
MORGAN: You have raised --
WINFREY: That's a good question. You know what's good about it? "Properly."
MORGAN: Yes, properly in love.
WINFREY: By properly do you mean was it really love?
MORGAN: Where it hurts your heart.
WINFREY: Oh, OK. Three.
MORGAN: Who were they? Stedman is one.
WINFREY: Stedman didn't hurt my heart. So this is what I learned, that love doesn't hurt.
MORGAN: You had your heart broken three times?
WINFREY: Only two. MORGAN: Who are they?
WINFREY: I'm not naming them so they can call me up tomorrow. Are you kidding? I broke Oprah's heart.
Did you hear Oprah say that? I broke her heart. No thank you for that, and then for week of tabloids.
MORGAN: I was just curious -- as you say your brand is love, when it doesn't work and you love somebody passionately and it just doesn't happen for whatever reason, how did you feel about that?
WINFREY: When I look back to the relationship that I thought that really broke my heart, I was keeping a journal then. Keeping a journal is -- you get to see yourself and how you are evolving as a human being. And I remember having a ceremony in my head for that woman. I look back at that time and I hold no remorse or bitterness toward that person even though I was, like, you didn't call and you didn't and you don't love me and I can't believe. And I still have all those crazy letters. I should burn them.
MORGAN: Do you really?
WINFREY: Yes, I do.
MORGAN: Do you have them all?
WINFREY: I have them all.
MORGAN: Why have you kept them?
WINFREY: I don't know. I just kept them.
MORGAN: Do you still read them?
WINFREY: No, I haven't read them in years. They're in a safety deposit box somewhere.
MORGAN: Wow, that's amazing.
WINFREY: I was thinking should burn them now because Gayle knows if anything happens to me, get the letters.
MORGAN: I have a message for Gayle, give me the letters.
WINFREY: Get the letters and journals.
MORGAN: What else have you got in there?
WINFREY: That's about it.
MORGAN: Tell me about Stedman. WINFREY: What about him?
MORGAN: I tell you who he reminds me of.
MORGAN: The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip.
WINFREY: Oh, really?
MORGAN: Yes, really.
Because you never really hear from Stedman. And he's always there in the background. He never lets you down. He's able to deal with your kind of huge fame and success and seems to take it all in stride. He has to cope with endless sniping from the media.
WINFREY: Oh, yes.
MORGAN: When did you know you were in love with him?
WINFREY: When did I know I was in love with him? I wasn't in love with him for a long time. It was a good relationship and the relationship worked and the relationship, because, you know, I often say that had we actually gotten married it wouldn't have lasted. I was saying that, you know, it wouldn't have lasted. I was saying it one day. He said, no, it wouldn't have.
And it wouldn't have lasted because of the -- he's a traditional guy. For a traditional guy to put himself in a position where he's -- he's tall too, 6'6.5" -- where he has to stand in the shadows of someone who is always getting the attention, that took an adjustment, a real adjustment, I'm telling you.
MORGAN: So when was that moment that you knew it was more than just a good relationship, it was special?
WINFREY: I think actually I had been betrayed by somebody in my family who had gone to the tabloids for, you know, $20,000 had sold me out. And it made me so sick. This was back in the '80s. It made me so sick I was literally in bed because I was saying betrayal is the worst thing.
And Stedman came into the room with tears in his eyes. We knew it was coming out. Stedman came into the room with tears in his eyes. He said "The story is out. I have a copy of it if you want to see it. And I'm really sorry. You don't deserve this." It was that moment.
MORGAN: You looked at him and thought, "I love this man"?
WINFREY: No, I looked at him and thought here's something who is willing to stand in and stand up for you. And that's what love is.
MORGAN: Do you ever argue? WINFREY: No because it's a waste of time, because I do the "Oprah Show," "excuse me, excuse you." I will do the Oprah Show.
I will tell you this, that there was a guest on my show -- I've never had a day's therapy, you know?
WINFREY: No. Have you?
WINFREY: OK. You can tell me if you have.
MORGAN: No, I haven't.
WINFREY: You never had therapy?
MORGAN: No. I'm a totally badly adjusted British guy.
WINFREY: Lots of people have. It's nothing to be --
MORGAN: I will need it after this. What's wrong with me? I need it?
WINFREY: No, but I'm saying I've never had a day's therapy and God knows I could have used some. But --
MORGAN: I'm amazed you say that.
WINFREY: No, I've never -- amazed to say what?
MORGAN: I just kind of assumed you would have at some stage had therapy?
WINFREY: No. All of my therapy's come -- my therapy has come from paying attention to my life. And look at all the guests I've had. Now if I was going to have a therapist, you know who I would have? Dr. Phil would be my therapist. I think he is damn good.
MORGAN: He is amazing.
WINFREY: Yes, because he just cuts through it.
MORGAN: Do you know who I'd have?
WINFREY: I'm good too.
MORGAN: You are.
WINFREY: Yes. Ask Gayle. Ask Gayle. I'm good.
MORGAN: You are America's therapist.
WINFREY: Well, thank you for that.
MORGAN: You are though. That's what your brand is, I would say.
WINFREY: No, my brand is love.
MORGAN: It's love and it's -- OK, it's love.
WINFREY: My brand is love.
MORGAN: I get it.
WINFREY: Come on.
MORGAN: You're all about the love.
WINFREY: Yes, I'm about evolving people to the point where they can share more love.
MORGAN: Coming up, the darkest moment of a young Oprah Winfrey's life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: When I was 14, your life is over. You're having a baby out of wedlock? You're life is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: So if you're going to share all this love -- I mean, you and Stedman, you were engaged. You never got married. You think that it wouldn't have worked.
WINFREY: You're wasting your time on this Stedman thing, but go ahead.
MORGAN: No, I'm not. It's just fascinating.
WINFREY: OK, go ahead.
MORGAN: I love the Stedman thing.
WINFREY: OK, go ahead.
MORGAN: He's the most important guy in your life.
WINFREY: OK, well go ahead. MORGAN: How could that be a waste of time?
WINFREY: Because I'm not going to -- if you're trying to get to the why haven't you gotten married? And how important is marriage? That is such an old story. I'm not going to get married.
MORGAN: I'm trying to think of another way of phrasing it.
WINFREY: That is such an old story, Piers. I'm not getting married. I'm not the marrying --
WINFREY: I'm just not the marrying kind.
MORGAN: You never hanker for that moment in the wedding dress and the church and bells and a big cake?
WINFREY: And that's why everybody's getting married because they -- you know what? When you get the hankering for the cake and the wedding dress, throw yourself a party and get yourself a really nice gown. That's what I say.
WINFREY: And that way you don't have to put up with all the rest of it. Throw yourself a party.
MORGAN: -- wedding list. I mean, you know all those presents you could have?
WINFREY: Oh, have a really nice party with the guest list and the seating on the table and all that. No, I am a different kind of woman in that I am pretty assured that had I married, I wouldn't have remained married because it takes a very different kind of person to put up with all of this. And the reason why this relationship has worked as well as it has is because we each got to define ourselves in it and not in a traditional form.
There's nothing about it that's traditional. There's nothing about it that's traditional.
Although you would be surprised -- since I know you're looking for something -- you would be surprised that, you know, the past few days I've been meeting -- meeting -- meeting at my house. I would stop in the middle of the meeting, make Stedman dinner, take it to him in his office and then go back to the meeting.
Everybody's like, whoa, look at the little lady.
MORGAN: See, you really want to be a nice home bird wife.
WINFREY: No, no, no, no, no. That's not what I want to do. I want people who want that for themselves, that's what they should have. But I want to make you a meal when I want to make you a meal. I don't want it to be my responsibility to make you a meal. MORGAN: Do you ever wish you'd been a mother?
WINFREY: No, no, not in that, I wish I'd been a mother way.
I'm a really good Auntie O. You know, I'm godmother to Gayle's children and it's been wonderful. I think of all the things that I would say about my friend Gayle, the thing that is -- that she has done the absolute best, better than anybody I have ever seen, heard or read about is raise her children.
MORGAN: But you see, I would say -- I'm sure Gayle would agree with me -- you would make a fantastic mother.
WINFREY: I don't know if she would agree with you now. She would have said that because she was into the whole picture like, oh, we could have kids and they could grow up together and then maybe they would grow up and then they'd like each other and then -- that whole -- because Gayle was one of those people writing the names of her children on her 7th grade notebook. You know? Because she's one of those people that wanted that.
I wasn't thinking about that in the 7th grade. I was really thinking about how I could follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther King.
MORGAN: When you were fourteen, you lost a baby. You talked about that openly before. Does any part of you ever wonder what would have happened if you'd had that child?
WINFREY: No. I knew that me getting pregnant was the result of bad choices and not having boundaries and the abuse -- sexual abuse from the time I was nine, 10, 11, 12, 13. And becoming a promiscuous teenager and running the streets and be put in the detention home and all of that.
So I knew that when I lost that baby, for whom I had no connection to whatsoever, I would have to say -- I was fourteen years old and felt nothing but just OK, relief, because I thought before the baby was born I'm going to have to kill myself. I'm going to have to --
MORGAN: Did you really?
WINFREY: Oh, for sure. For sure. My mother said, you can't stay here. So I had to move to live with my father in Nashville.
MORGAN: Did you ever tell your father that you had been pregnant?
WINFREY: No, hid it. I hid the whole thing, the whole time. I was able to do it because I was coming from a different state. I hadn't been there since I was nine years old.
And my father, as a part of his decree about what's going to go on in this house and won't go on in this house, said to me, as I'm standing in the kitchen listening to him tell me these are the rules of the house; you're going to obey the rules; you have a 10:00 curfew. And I would rather see a daughter of mind floating down the Cumberland River, he said, than to bring shame on this family and the indecency of an illegitimate child.
WINFREY: And he's saying that to me and I know that I am pregnant. So I'm thinking, well, I'm just going to have to kill myself. So when --
MORGAN: Did you come close to doing that?
WINFREY: No, not -- you know, I did stupid things like, you know, drinking detergent and all that kind of crazy stuff that you do when you're trying to get attention, when you're really just trying to cry for help. But this is my 14-year-old self. Like, I don't even know what I thought the plan was going to be.
That's why I relate so much to young girls in that situation. There isn't the great stigma that it was when I was in school, of course. And I just -- you know, when I was 14, your life is over. You're having a baby out of wedlock? Your life is over.
So when the baby died -- the baby was never brought home from the hospital and the baby died, I knew that it was my second chance.
So I went back to school and nobody knew, because had anybody had known at that time, I wouldn't have been able to be head of the student council. I wouldn't have been able to be speaking champion in forensics. I wouldn't have been able to be Miss Fire Prevention. I wouldn't have been chosen as one of the two teenagers in the state of Tennessee to go to the White House Conference on Youth.
None of those things would have happened, and the entire trajectory of my life would have been different.
MORGAN: Next, how rich is Oprah?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: What has been the most painful check you've ever had to write to the IRS? The one that's caused you most --
WINFREY: You're good. You're good. You think I'm going to give you the number.
MORGAN: Come on. Give a new boy a break.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: There is a very good argument to be made, without your endorsement, perhaps Barack Obama wouldn't have become president. It was a hugely significant moment for him and his campaign. And it showed you, I think, if you're honest, the extraordinary power of your brand to better influence people.
WINFREY: I love that "if you're honest" part. You just said that.
MORGAN: I'm going to force you into it.
WINFREY: I know that little trick.
WINFREY: I know that trick.
MORGAN: I don't want to teach you how --
WINFREY: I know what you're up to.
MORGAN: I'm trying to impress the master.
WINFREY: I know what you're up to.
I will say this -- I don't know what impact or influence I had. I knew that from the time I saw him at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, I felt something. Something inside of me was struck by that moment.
And I did feel that -- what I felt was that this man is going to president of the United States one day, and I hope I'm alive to see it. And if I am alive to see it, I want to be a part of that.
MORGAN: As someone who aspires to be a teacher -- and in many ways you are a teacher -- if you were giving an academic report on President Obama, what would you say, good and bad, pluses, minuses?
WINFREY: I couldn't because I haven't paid enough attention to the curriculum to --
MORGAN: Well put.
WINFREY: Yes -- to give a fair assessment.
MORGAN: If you were being honest though, where do you think he's been disappointing?
WINFREY: I don't think he's been disappointing?
MORGAN: At all?
WINFREY: I really do not. I really do not, because I believe that I understand the heart of him. And I understand that when he took this role on, he took it on to really bring a sense of betterment to the United States of America and the people of this country. And I know that in his heart, that is his ultimate and primary role.
And so knowing that that his is intention, there's a learning curve for anything. As you sit in this chair, having done this many times before, but never done it in this format, there's going to be a learning curve for you.
Should we judge you and say that you're no good and you made all these mistakes just because --
MORGAN: If you do that to me, I'm going to be mortified.
WINFREY: You see? No. So there's a learning curve.
MORGAN: Will you play a hypothetical game with me?
MORGAN: I know you've always said you'd never run for president yourself. Although a lot of people would say, if you did, you'd win, you'd become --
WINFREY: That is not true.
MORGAN: That is true.
WINFREY: That is not true. And you know what? This is interesting.
You know, it's one of those things that, if you are living in the ego of yourself, it's flattering to hear that. But I could not for one single second -- but this is the thing about me that I really admire about myself. I know where my lane is, and I know how to stay in my lane.
MORGAN: Where's your lane?
WINFREY: My lane is evolving the consciousness of people everywhere, getting people to see the best of themselves and, therefore, the best in other people.
MORGAN: I mean, you just said to me that President Obama aim is the betterment of the American people. It sounds a similar lane to me.
WINFREY: No. But -- no. Listen, I am not in the least bit qualified to do that.
WINFREY: Not at all.
MORGAN: Who knows the American people better than you? WINFREY: Well, I might be in a position to talk to -- to be an adviser. But I am not in any position or qualified to run a country, a city, a town hall meeting.
MORGAN: I love that voice, by the way.
WINFREY: That is not what I do.
MORGAN: Let me ask you a different way. You are a very successful businesswoman.
MORGAN: How many people do you employ?
WINFREY: Right now, 464 at Harpo.
MORGAN: Right. And it's a billion-dollar-plus business, right?
WINFREY: All the businesses. You mean everything.
MORGAN: Yes. As an empire, it's very impressive and it's big.
MORGAN: And it's successful. How do we get this going again? How do you get America back on its feet?
WINFREY: I don't know the answer to that. That's out of my lane. You've now just driven off the road and out of my lane.
MORGAN: I want you in that lane.
WINFREY: But you can't put me in that lane. That's not my lane.
MORGAN: Why not? You'd be great in that lane.
WINFREY: No. What I can talk about is my compassion for anybody who is struggling, who has lost their job, who is out of work, doesn't know how they're going to pay this month's bills, living paycheck to paycheck. I have great empathy for that and understand what that means.
I understand what it means to -- because I've made every single salary. I know what it means to make --
MORGAN: You still write all the checks?
WINFREY: I don't write all of them now.
MORGAN: How many of them do you sign?
WINFREY: I sign all the checks that are over 100,000 dollars, and that's a lot of checks.
MORGAN: Come on. How many? WINFREY: Oh, probably, you know, several hundred.
MORGAN: Of over 100,000 dollars each?
WINFREY: Yes. It would knock your socks off.
MORGAN: That does not my socks off.
WINFREY: Millions are going out. You know, you're doing --
MORGAN: Does it hurt you? Do you feel pain?
WINFREY: The most pain I feel is -- and my accountants will tell you this. Every time I write a check to the IRS, it's a ceremony.
They come in. For years, they came in with wine. Now they come in with tequila.
WINFREY: It's a tequila-signing ceremony.
MORGAN: What has been the most painful check you've ever had to write to the IRS? The one that's caused you most agony?
WINFREY: You're good. You think I'm going to give you the number.
MORGAN: Come on.
WINFREY: You think I'm going to give you the number.
MORGAN: Give a new boy a break.
WINFREY: No, no, no.
MORGAN: According to "Forbes" magazine, you are worth 2.7 billion dollars.
WINFREY: I knew you were going to go there sooner or later.
MORGAN: Are you worth that?
WINFREY: I'm not sitting around counting it.
MORGAN: I bet you know exactly how much you're worth.
WINFREY: Yes, I do.
MORGAN: You see? So how do you know without counting it?
WINFREY: Because I already have counted it.
MORGAN: Another amazing fact about you and money is you've given away over 300 million dollars. I find that an extraordinary sum of money to have given away.
WINFREY: I've given away more than that, but --
MORGAN: Do you know how much?
WINFREY: No, I really don't, but I know it's more than 300 million dollars.
WINFREY: Yes, of course. And I have the school, and it's ongoing. And, you know, I'm responsible for all of these girls, and them getting an education. And I pay for every single thing.
And I think that the charitable work that you do -- and when I'm gone, everything that I have is going to go to charity, because I don't have children. And I believe that that's what you should do, that that's how you should live your life, as to whom much is given, much should be given back.
So, to me, the money is -- it's certainly a wonderful thing. But it is in direct proportion to how you're able to bless yourself and bless others with it.
MORGAN: Well, what do you think of the old saying, you know, money can't buy you happiness?
WINFREY: It can certainly pave the way for it.
MORGAN: Coming up, what's at the heart of Oprah Winfrey?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: Now you're going to try to make me weep. Now I could weep over that. I could weep over that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: The thing I do best, Piers, you didn't ask me that question, "Oprah, what is it you do best?"
MORGAN: Oprah, what is it you do best?
WINFREY: The thing that I -- that I strive to do best is be here, be now. Right here, right now, with you. The reason why we've had such a good time is because I'm not thinking about -- somebody else is -- but I'm not thinking about how much time do we have left, and how many questions you're going to have, and what you're going to ask me. Just be here, be now, so that I can enjoy this experience.
And so, I don't have a lot of -- I don't live in the past. I don't carry the past into this moment because I do the "Oprah" show. I learned how not do that. That's what all of those years of non- therapy, but paying attention to the guests on the show, the way they live their lives, what the experts had to say, what I've learned from paying attention.
So I don't -- I can't say that I have a moment that I feel --
MORGAN: Are you as happy now, do you think, as you've ever been?
WINFREY: I'm happier than I've ever been.
MORGAN: You seem remarkably content.
WINFREY: Mmm-hmm. And there's a difference between, you know, happiness and just contentment and just happy about this. I am profoundly rewarded by this blessing of an experience that I get to have a platform, whether it's the television show, the "Oprah Winfrey Show," or the network that we've now created.
I think anybody who gets to live their life on purpose and in alignment with why they really came to the planet, you know, to fulfill the greater mission for themselves -- you just can't ask for better than that. And so, I have always believed that the "Oprah Winfrey Show" was really the foundation for the beginning of what was to come for my supreme moment of destiny.
I am very clear that my life and my purpose is bigger than myself. This isn't -- you know, this isn't all about me, you know, having houses and shoes. It's about, how can I be used for something greater than myself? And that is why I'm here. That is why Negro me, former colored girl in Mississippi, has a network. Because I know what to do with it. I know how to use it for something that's greater than my own self-whatever.
MORGAN: Today -- when this interviewed is aired is Martin Luther King Day.
WINFREY: Oh, is it?
MORGAN: January 17.
WINFREY: Lining up there.
MORGAN: You almost did it --
WINFREY: Now you're going to try to make me weep. Now, I could weep over that. I could weep over that. I'm not going to.
MORGAN: Why would you? WINFREY: I would because I hold him in reverence. I hold him in reverence. And I know that I would not be here -- this life that I live, the dream that I live in, that he predicted for our people, would not be possible had he not been who he was.
MORGAN: I mean, if he was looking down now --
WINFREY: Oh, and this is what I said to Stedman as we were watching that. This was the night before I was launching the network and we were watching the documentary of Dr. King. And I turned to Stedman and I said, he would have been so proud.
He would have been very proud.
MORGAN: Well, he would see an America where the most powerful and the most powerful woman --
WINFREY: One of. One of.
MORGAN: It's an arguable point. But to many people, the most powerful man and woman in America are both black. And for Martin Luther King, I would say that would be pretty well the culmination of that journey he talked of, that dream.
WINFREY: I would say so, too. You know, I stand in the shoes and on the shoulders of those who have come before me. I'm very much aware of that and I'm very connected to it.
MORGAN: Oprah, it's been a fascinating encounter in many ways. But there's one question I want to end with. And it's the only question I can really ask you on my first day of interviews with CNN, replacing the great Larry King, when I'm interviewing the world's most famous interviewer.
WINFREY: One of.
MORGAN: And the question is straight-forward, really. How have I done?
WINFREY: I -- you have been surprising.
MORGAN: Surprisingly bad?
WINFREY: No. Just surprising. And that's a good thing because, who doesn't want to be surprised. You've been surprising.
MORGAN: Thank you.
WINFREY: Thank you.
MORGAN: It's been a real pleasure.
MORGAN: Thank you very much.