Oprah Winfrey appeared on CBS This Morning yesterday (January 21st) and defended her decision to pull out of On The Record, a #MeToo documentary that focusing on sexual harassment in the music industry, including women who have accused Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct.
Oprah revealed that the reason she decided to leave the film was due to "inconsistencies" in the project. She said that she told producers that if they didn't pull out from the Sundance Film Festival and address the issues that concerned her, she would take her name off of the project. Oprah said that her decision has nothing to do with whether she believes the accusers or not.
She explained, [“I believe them. It was a hard decision because I knew that Russell Simmons had started publicly pressuring me [on social media] and that me pulling out of the documentary was going to look like I was being pressured. What do I say to that is… For me, and Gayle knows this, in all experiences of my life, and particularly when I’m in a crisis, the only question for me is ‘What is the right thing to do?'"
She added, “I believe the women’s voices deserve to be heard, and as an executive producer I was also in a position where I think things were not right. I wanted the context of the story to be broadened, I wanted more women to be brought in.”
Gayle King asked Oprah how does she feel about people who think this was a victory for Simmons and Oprah said, [“This is not a victory for Russell and I can unequivocally say, I did not pull out because of Russell. This is not a victory lap for him. I cannot be silenced by Russell Simmons after all I’ve been through. It’s] ridiculous to think I could be intimidated by Russell Simmons after all I've been through. And also, I spent three years on trial trying to protect the girls at my school who had accused a dorm parent of sexual assault. Three years on trial and nobody believed them. . . . That’s ridiculous. And also ridiculous to think I could be intimidated by Russell Simmons."]
She added, I don’t think anyone, not at this point. I’m about to turn 66. And people were saying I was silenced, I’m not silenced, I’m sitting on ‘CBS This Morning’ which is the opposite of being silenced. I stand with the women, I support the women and I do hope people will see the film… and make their own decisions about it.”