Tragic Maui fire has Oprah's brand up in flames

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Only Oprah Winfrey’s problem seems to be one of self immolation by association vice actual flames tickling her toes.

For such a carefully cultivated image after all these decades, old girl’s been coming apart at the seams these past few weeks, with jarring, insensitive gazillionaire misstep after misstep.


The things that might have passed unnoticed otherwise have been magnified by the enormous loss of life and property, the scope of the overall devastation, parcity of the emergency and relief response, and miserable performance of elected officials.

Let’s face it – Maui residents are pissed off.

They might have been a little torqued that the billionaire on the island escaped unscathed while they were wiped out. That festered some – even to the point of accusations of hiring firefighters for her estate making USA Today.

Oprah Winfrey is accused of doing whatever it takes to protect her Hawaiian home from the unprecedented wildfires that ravaged the island of Maui in August.

Several social media users have posted videos claiming she hired a private firefighting team to prevent the blazes from damaging her 2,000-acre property. Not to mention that many are still outraged that the former talk show host publicly visited emergency shelters where displaced residents took shelter after losing their homes.

Maui locals are accusing Oprah Winfrey of hiring firefighters to protect her home as wildfires ravaged communities and displaced thousands.

I don’t know. I understand that anger, but also understand if you have the money or wherewithal, you do what you can do. Now, if it meant there weren’t enough firefighters for the conditions and what happened, oh, holy moly. But I would have to see that first verified and then want to know what the circumstances of their departments allowing that – or not – were. I can’t imagine having any crews doing something else in such conditions.


She did step in it again, in the immediate aftermath of the fire, when she and a CBS News crew went to visit shelters. It was so unseemly. Reports were the folks running shelters told them to leave – people had been traumatized enough and didn’t need to be a part of a slobbery Oprah puff piece at the worst moment in their lives.

Maui officials later did some public tap dancing to smooth whatever ruffled feathers there might have been on the TV icon’s part, and gloss over the incident.

…“To clarify, Oprah was able to visit our shelter and we thank her for instructing media journalists and camera crews to remain outside,” reads a statement shared on Facebook from the County of Maui. “We welcome Oprah to continue to uplift our community’s spirit and give her aloha to victims of the tragic disaster.”

The statement continued, “Her visit inside of the shelter today was truly heartwarming and we appreciate her understanding of our policy of having no camera crews or reporters accompanying dignitaries and celebrities in our emergency shelters. Mahalo.”

It was reported that the media mogul had arrived with a CBS News crew at the War Memorial Complex in Wailuku but was denied entry. However, after Winfrey instructed cameras to wait outside, she was able to spend time with survivors.

“Out of respect for those who have come to seek safety and shelter at emergency shelters, our policy remains that no media are given access,” read the statement after Winfrey and the camera crew were not given access to go inside the facility. “We welcome Oprah to continue to uplift our community’s spirit and give her aloha to victims of the tragic disaster and appreciate her understanding of our policy of no camera crews or reporters in our emergency shelters. Mahalo.”



A week ago Oprah, together with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, finally, really stepped in a pile of poi big time.

The two of them – a twice over billionaire and a millionaire two hundred times over – started something called “The People’s Fund of Maui.”

Okay. Wouldn’t be the first time celebrities started fundraisers, but this one was a little different. You see, if you didn’t watch the video, but read the text on Oprah’s TikTok account, what does that say?

Screencap Oprah TikTok

If you can’t read through my scribble, I’ll help you:

@The Rock and I are honored to donate $10 million to start The People’s Fund of Maui. Please visit to donate or apply for aid

It says quite clearly the two of them are donating $10M TO START their fund…doesn’t it?

Everyone was, like, DAMN! Finally a celebrity or two who puts their money where their mouth is.


[CUE: sad trombone]

…that’s not exactly what they meant at all. That $10M is going to “start” aka “set-up” – so “infrastructure,” “Dolly Parton,” whatever? I’m not an accountant, I only play one here at HotAir.


They want working class schlubs to give them the money through donations that actually funds the fund. Nobody on Maui or in Lahaina is getting anything just yet.


Well, don’t you know this is causing more heartburn than a bottle of Pepto-Bismol can handle.

There’s a vicious little celebrity parody going around.

This was a fascinating (NSFW) dive into the inner workings of “The Fund.”

People questioned why Oprah couldn’t take some of her money and put tents up on her undamaged Maui property – she has buttloads – for displaced residents instead.

And they lit Oprah up in absentia at a Maui county council meeting, wondering why community pastors were not allowed to visit in shelters, but Oprah could.

Oh, but she knows the governor.

Lots of regular folks were busy online in the comment section of the fund video, too.


…Although Johnson and Winfrey may have had altruistic intentions, many were flabbergasted that the pair – one a billionaire and the other a multi-millionaire – asked the public to donate their money. Johnson and Winfrey’s video drew 60,000 comments, with many viewers reacting with disappointment and skepticism.

One user wrote in the video’s comment section, “Girl you got some nerve asking us working class people who can barely afford to put food on the table for our families to donate…why don’t you ask your millionaire/billionaire buddies to help.”

“This is sooo ironic… a billionaire and a millionaire asking YOU to donate YOUR money??” another balked, while someone else wrote: “Math ain’t mathing with this one. You guy’s literally have so much money…. You can donate it and make it back within a year….”

The most common terms in a week’s worth of headlines that I see are “outrage” and “backlash.” The two bazillionaires must have felt the heat, too, because the comments have been switched off.

…Still, critics have voiced criticism for the multimillionaire actor and billionaire mogul asking everyone to donate. “If you two don’t get your Hollywood elite butts to your other Hollywood elite friends and politician buddies who have millions like you… and help Maui, you guys are crazy.” said a woman.

“You could just give them the money, the donation will go to raise money for a corrupt cause that is hardly disguised as a good cause.” commented another critic.

Although users point out that both celebs have turned off comments on Maui-related posts, users may still hear content related or unrelated to the natural disaster.


People were snortin’ fire and the comments were smokin’.

I think this is a mess and none of it helps the people of Maui in the least bit.

Nobody’s done right by them who has either the responsibility to or the wherewithal, which has been true since that first flame licked skyward.

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