Aseem Chhabra, a reporter for the Mumbai Mirror, said this to US media: “It’s all the stereotypes and all the clichés the West has, between the elephants and the palaces and the snake charmers and cows…I think I expected a lot more from somebody like Oprah Winfrey.”
Some also criticized Oprah for acting surprised that many Indians eat with their hands, and were offended that she was shocked that a family lived in such a tiny home.
“Myopic, unaware, ignorant and gauche,” said journalist Rajyasree Sen. “This was Middle America at its best worst.”
Oprah Winfrey’s representatives weren’t interested in backing down and instead took the time to defend their boss. A rep from team Oprah said: “The intention of the program was to explore the beautiful culture and spirit of the country. We enjoyed the time we spent there and were touched by the people who so generously shared their stories for the show.”
The statement doesn’t seem to explain away the ignorance, but at least they’re saying something. This was not the first time that Winfrey ran into controversy during her trip to India. Her bodyguards got into a scuffle with Indian media and were detained by police. They were released after issuing an apology to the media.