Social Navigation

‘Being slammed, lies, conspiracy theories…’: Oprah Winfrey addresses Maui Wildfire Fund backlash


Oprah Winfrey is one of the veterans of the industry, well-known and respected, the star has rarely ever taken a step wrong. But recently she’s been subjected to intense criticism from all corners, as she started a public fund for the people of Maui who were affected by the recent wildfires on the island. She and Dwayne Johnson who is her partner in creating this fund announced it on their social media, but it didn’t take long for the situation to take a turn for the worse.

Oprah Winfrey on Maui wildfire fund backlash

The famous host responded to the online scrutiny she and Johnson had to face in the wake of their newly launched People’s Fund of Maui. This initiative was set up to provide direct financial aid to individuals impacted by the wildfires on the island. In a recent interview with CBS Mornings, she addressed the criticism. She stated, “All the online [comments], being slammed, lies, conspiracy theories, really took the focus off of what was the most important thing and that was the people of Maui.” She claimed that she was “on the ground talking to lots of people trying to figure out” how she could help them in the best way.

The producer revealed that Will who is Gayle King’s son, sent her an article talking about how in 2017 Dolly Parton held a concert that raised $12.5 million, which served as a people’s fund for the public of Gatlinburg, Tennessee affected by the wildfires. To this Winfrey’s said her reaction was, “Whoa, that’s the idea.” Oprah explained, “[Money] directly into the hands of the people. So, to set up the infrastructure for that, The Rock and his team and my team, we were on.” She continued, “I don’t know how many Zooms to set up the infrastructure for the verification process to be able to drop money into people’s accounts.”

Ophra Winfrey stands by her public fund

The 69-year-old revealed she had been getting calls and messages from people asking her where they could contribute the money for the island. Despite the criticism that the star duo has been getting for the People’s Fund of Maui, Ophra emphasized her belief in its effectiveness. She claimed, “Putting money directly into the hands of the people is a significant thing.” She revealed that 2,200 people have been “cleared and verified” for receiving the financial aid, and soon they will be getting a “notice from the People Fund of Maui” that’ll help them get the money they were promised.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.