NEW YORK – Oprah Winfrey fired back at the White House yesterday — saying she felt "extremely used" by the Bush administration for implying that she was too busy to tour Afghanistan schools on behalf of President Bush.
Winfrey called her pal, The View co-host Star Jones, before yesterday's show and told Jones the story "was just not true."
"Oprah called this morning . . . and she wanted to talk a little bit about what the real story was," Jones told viewers at the start of yesterday's show on ABC.
"She told me that she was approached several weeks back [by the White House] and was told that the plans were ultra-sensitive.
"She was really, really quiet and the White House said check your schedule and she did but she had some fund-raisers that she had committed to and anybody knows when you do these things . . . people sell tickets expecting you to be there," Jones said.
"So she couldn't get out of doing [the fund-raiser] and she didn't want to because she had made the commitment."
Word first leaked last week that Winfrey declined to make the trip to Afghanistan. In a prepared statement from her office at Chicago-based Harpo Productions, Winfrey said she had too many other things to do. Some took her refusal as a blatant snub of the president.
"The White House knew she wasn't going to be able to go, but [Bush adviser] Karen Hughes told her they were going anyway," Jones said.
"So Oprah says for the last couple of weeks she thought, 'Oh, they had gone [to Afghanistan]'.
"She said, 'So imagine my surprise, I wake up and read in the newspaper that I'm being cavalier, I'm too busy.'
"She said it didn't happen that way and it really wasn't fair," Jones said of Winfrey. "We all know what kinds of philanthropic things that Oprah does across the country and across the world so that wasn't fair.
"She did say, 'Star, I felt extremely used by the Bush administration.'
"So I just wanted to set the record straight that Ms. Winfrey did not just cavalierly throw this away."
Yesterday's phone call and subsequent on-air lovefest wasn't the first time a celebrity in the news has used the ladies of The View to get her point across.
Rosie O'Donnell did it in February when she placed a pre-show phone call to Barbara Walters to say it was OK for Barbara to refer to Rosie as a lesbian in the air — the first time O'Donnell's sexual orientation had been publicly acknowledged.