Shock Therapy: Oprah Winfrey, Celebrity Philanthropy, and Disaster "Relief" in Haiti

Dana L. Cloud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article examines coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake on the Oprah Winfrey Show. I argue that the Oprah Winfrey Show attempted to deploy therapeutic discourse to warrant what Naomi Klein (2008) calls the "shock doctrine": an argument for the demolition of "failed" societies and states so that they can be rebuilt in the neoliberal image of private capitalism. Thus, Winfrey's discourse might be described as "shock therapy." However, celebrities featured during these episodes worked as shock absorbers, engaging in an ideological tug-of-war with the therapeutic narrative, oscillating between personalistic and more broadly critical perspectives on crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-56
Number of pages15
JournalCritical Studies in Media Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Celebrity
  • Haiti Earthquake
  • Oprah
  • Shock Doctrine
  • Therapeutic Discourse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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