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Online Claims of "Oprah Hates Disabled People"

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  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-07-10 (Rev. 2016-09-23) - Alleged rigged votes for Your OWN Show contestants resulting in Oprah hates disabled people blog posts circulating the Internet. For further information pertaining to this article contact: William Sykes.

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A number of people have emailed Disabled World asking about the "Oprah hates disabled people" and similar titles in search engine results recently. Here is some information we found online...

Popular search terms on Google in the last few days include "Oprah Hates the Handicapped", and "Oprah Hates Disabled People". So what is all the fuss about

It is alleged the story originated recently on a website when someone posted a question asking about the scoring discrepancy. However, the post was deleted by the web portal owner(s) as they found the question violated their "Community Guidelines .

Oprah Gail Winfrey is an American television host, producer, and philanthropist, and the story is that the people behind the Oprah website that tracks votes for contestants auditioning for Oprah's upcoming show, "Your OWN Show" may have fiddled the vote count. Your OWN Show will be a series that features contestants attempting to host their own reality talk show, similar to the one Oprah will be leaving in the coming months.

About two weeks ago, allegations surfaced that the online voting process may have been unfairly skewed hampering the then-top-vote getter. Oprah's team deny "rigging" or even touching the votes.

Zach Anner a young male with cerebral palsy, and hopeful contestant for the show, (Zach Anner Oprah Audition), was apparently leading in his group, at one point being ahead by some 1.4 million votes, but fell to second place in minutes. People who were watching the web page recording votes claimed votes for his name actually went backwards instead of forwards like they had been trending the previous part of the day. It is said another contestant, Tampa middle school teacher Dr. Phyllis Tucker-Wicks ("Dr. Phyllis"), moved ahead of Zach Anner over the course of just a few minutes.

Alleged screenshot capture of vote discrepancy
Alleged screenshot capture of vote discrepancy

"Tucker-Wicks, 50, who teaches English at Young Middle Magnet School, declined to comment, saying OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network, asked her not to speak with the press. Similarly, a publicist for the channel refused to speak on the record about the contest - though a press release announcing the top winners said a third party vetted the online votes before the final results were announced, eliminating votes which could not be authenticated, and the Top 8 winners did not change." - From blogs.tampabay.com/media/2010/07/tampa-schoolteacher-gets-one-step-closer-to-a-show-on-oprah-winfreys-new-cable-tv-network.html

"This is Oprah - she helps people for a living," said Zach Anner. "To think people are saying she's rigged the voting against me doesn't compute for me. It's not what I believe."

Several websites are reporting that the Network has stated that it would investigate the matter.

When contacted by EW, a spokesperson for OWN issued the following statement: "The online voting rules for the 'Your OWN Show' video submission competition were carefully crafted to be fair to everyone. Any allegations of impropriety will be investigated and the appropriate actions taken to keep the process unbiased."

On the other side of the coin there are numerous online reports that users on the internet forum 4Chan are responsible for the skewed vote in Anner's favor.

The online finalists, in order of verified vote count, are:

1. Jacqueline Wattimo of Waterton, MA with 9,360,096 votes.
2. Dr. Phyllis Tucker-Wicks of Tampa, FL with 8,453,803 votes.
3. Stacia Pierce of East Lansing, MI with 7,604,501 votes.
4. Kornelius Bascombe of Raleigh, NC with 5,856,075 votes.
5. Dr. Tony Roach of Abilene, TX with 3,842,648 votes.
6. Maria Holloway of Miami, FL with 3,796,219 votes.
7. Zach Anner of Austin, TX with 3,484,018 votes.
8. Jasbina Ahluwalia of Oak Brook, IL with 2,728,232 votes.




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