NBC retracts ‘stunningly unprofessional’ tweet declaring Oprah Winfrey ‘our’ next president

NBC apparently forgot it has a news division on Sunday night when it campaigned for Oprah Winfrey to run for president, but on Monday, the network blamed a third party for an errant tweet backing the TV talk show queen's supposed 2020 ambitions.

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“Nothing but respect for OUR future president,” the verified NBC account tweeted on Sunday night during its Golden Globes telecast, complete with an image of Winfrey, after host Seth Meyers joked about his desire for the talk show icon to run for office.

Early Monday, NBC appeared to back off the apparent Oprah endorsement, and blamed it on a "third party."

"Yesterday a tweet about the Golden Globes and Oprah Winfrey was sent by a third party agency for NBC Entertainment in real time during the broadcast," read the tweet. "It is in reference to a joke made during the monologue and not meant to be a political statement. We have since removed the tweet."

Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor told Fox News that the initial tweet was “stunningly unprofessional” and it’s the “latest of about a billion examples” of how openly liberal and anti-Trump the mainstream media is on a regular basis.

“This was shocking even given all of the anti-Trump bias in the press,” Gainor said. “I'm sure NBC will say it's just a joke and try to move on.”

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“Regardless of intent, it's won't help the perception of news media being biased, particularly among those who already don't trust news media,” University of North Carolina journalism professor Lois Boynton told Fox News. 

However, the tweet wasn’t funny to several journalists who expect the embattled NBC News division to maintain a semblance of objectiveness.

“Really NBC? From your official network account? Woah,” Fox News’ Trish Regan tweeted in response. 

As of Monday morning, NBC’s tweet had been retweeted more than 5,000 times and liked nearly 20,000 times. Not all of the comments beneath the message were in favor of NBC's Democratic strategy. 

“Your bias is ridiculous,” one user wrote while another chimed in, “You are only proving the President's point and adding fuel to the fire.”

“It is very presumptuous to tweet ‘OUR’ future president just a year after the nation decided something else in an election."

- Media analyst Jeffrey McCall

“This bias is absurd and why I never watch NBC,” one commenter wrote, and dozens responded by posting photos of Winfrey kissing disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein on the cheek.   

While some interpreted NBC’s tweet as campaigning for Winfrey, others took it as a jab at President Trump. The way NBC’s social media team capitalized “OUR” could be taken as a subtle indication that the network doesn’t consider Trump its president.

Media analyst Jeffrey McCall told Fox News the tweet “shows the network's tin ear and total lack of judgment” when it comes to the way it covers politics.  

“It is very presumptuous to tweet ‘OUR’ future president just a year after the nation decided something else in an election. This shows NBC has little regard for the voters who put Trump in the White House,” McCall said. “This sort of unnecessary forcing of pop culture into politics furthers the view that the entertainment industry is not so much interested in entertaining the nation as it is pushing sociopolitical agendas.”

Donald Trump Jr. also took to Twitter to slam NBC for the tweet, asking, “Can you trust anything they say at this point?”

Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award that night – the first ever given to a black woman – and spoke about the #MeToo and civil rights movements, sparking wild speculations about her political aspirations.

“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men,” she said. “But their time is up. Their time is up. Their time is up,” she added as A-list Hollywood celebrities stood up and applauded.

Liberal MSNBC host Joy Reid seems to think that Winfrey is already the president.

“Switched back to the Golden Globes to watch Oprah get her award. Never let it be said that I don’t respect the president of the United States,” Reid tweeted.

So, will Winfrey actually challenge Trump?

“The media have been pushing an Oprah candidacy since the 1990s. People magazine polled in 1999 and found her the most popular celebrity candidate and in 2003 she responded to another effort by vowing she'd ‘never’ get into politics. Yet her name keeps being brought up by liberals who want to use populism for their own aims,” Gainor said.

NBC News president Noah Oppenheim oversees a department plagued with harassment scandals.  (2016 FOX)

Winfrey’s longtime partner, Stedman Graham, told The Los Angeles Times that “It's up to the people” whether she should run for president, but said “she would absolutely do it."

Conservative journalists called the NBC tweet “insane” and “beyond shameful.” 

It’s interesting that NBC would push Winfrey for president on a night when Hollywood was busy celebrating women and condemning sexual harassment. The network was recently forced to fire “Today” star Matt Lauer for sexual misconduct and had the chance to expose Weinstein as a sexual predator months before he was eventually outed by other publications. NBC News refused to publish Ronan Farrow’s reporting on Weinstein for reasons that are still not clear.

When news first broke that Lauer had been fired, Lack initially claimed there was only one complaint about Lauer in 20 years -- the one that led to his dismissal. But the executives soon backtracked, with NBC clarifying in a statement that only “current” management was in the dark about "reports" of Lauer's conduct. Even the second statement has raised eyebrows and the Variety reporters who broke the Lauer bombshell, Elizabeth Wagmeister and Ramin Setoodeh, have questioned the claim that current NBC staffers were unaware of Lauer’s misconduct.  

Parent company Comcast is conducting an investigation regarding who knew about now-disgraced Lauer’s sexual misconduct and when they knew it. Fox News has learned that the investigation is now being conducted outside of the NBC News Chairman Andy Lack’s division. NBC Universal’s corporate team of human resources and legal executives are leading the ongoing harassment probe and will report its findings to HR Executive Vice President Patricia Langer and Vice President, General Counsel Kim Harris. 

Lack recently announced a “culture assessment” of NBC News and an assortment of other bureaucratic efforts he's doing to combat sex harassment -- such as focus groups and mandatory training on workplace behavior and harassment prevention. None of the steps taken by NBC News place any blame on leadership that may have allowed Lauer’s alleged predatory behavior to thrive.

NBC News has had a smorgasbord of other sexual misconduct-related incidents occur of late. MSNBC admitted star Chris Matthews settled with a former producer who accused him of sexual harassment; the network also fired “Morning Joe” regular Mark Halperin for sexual misconduct and suspended two contributors, Glenn Thrush and Harold Ford, Jr., after they were accused of harassment by women. Mika Brzezinski even upset a group of Halperin’s accusers last month by saying she tried to arrange his victims to attend a face-to-face apology.

All this is occurring as Lack and his top deputy, Noah Oppenheim, still have not explained why they sat on the “Access Hollywood” tape of Donald Trump making lewd comments about women. The tape of Trump caught on a hot mic was leaked from within NBC to the Washington Post's David Fahrenthold, who is Oppenheim's friend from prestigious Harvard University, where they worked as editors together on the student newspaper.

All of this resulted in a variety of jokes on social media about Winfrey actually being more qualified to take over as head of NBC.