By Chloe Aiello
Television psychologist Phil McGraw, better known as Dr. Phil, praised his "best friend" and colleague in entertainment Oprah Winfrey in an almost-endorsement for a presidential run on Wednesday when he joined Cheddar to discuss his new podcast, "Phil in the Blanks."
"People know Oprah from the entertainment world, but this is a very well-educated, very well-read, very wise woman who has a very astute understanding of the geopolitical situation in the world," McGraw told Cheddar. "She has a very astute understanding of economics and the socio-political environment in America. She has a wealth of knowledge that I think surpasses a lot of people that have run for, or that have held that office."
Almost a year exactly has elapsed since the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony, when Winfrey became the first black woman to accept the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. Her viral acceptance speech touched on freedom of the press, civil rights, and the #MeToo movement, and caused fans to wonder if she would consider a 2020 bid for president. Winfrey has since taken almost every opportunity to slap down rumors she will run.
McGraw did little to encourage holdouts hoping for Oprah 2020.
"You never say never, and you'd have to ask her where she stands on it today. But I am in pretty constant contact with her and I don't really think she has a plan to [run] right now," he said.
It's been roughly 20 years since McGraw's friendship with Oprah catapulted him to television fame. Since his daytime talk show, "Dr. Phil," debuted in 2002, McGraw has counseled, consoled, and scolded countless troubled guests. He wants to try something different with his new podcast, "Phil in the Blanks."
Unlike the show that made him famous, McGraw won't be using the podcast to solve problems. He said he'll be using it to have quality conversations with interesting people.
"When I'm on the air, I always have a task at hand: I've got a problem in front of me, I've got a family, I've got a couple, I've got an individual that's in crisis, and so I always have to be on-task," he said. "What I wanted to do with the podcast is not have a problem to solve, just have interesting people to talk to."
Compared to TV, McGraw said he appreciates the liberating aspects of podcasting ー the freedom of content, time, and form. "It's really a much more free-flowing kind of thing," he added.
McGraw said the roster will include some celebrities, but he'll try to hit them with questions they don't typically get.
"My first episode, which dropped yesterday, was Shaquille O'Neal," McGraw said. "And everybody knows he is one of the most iconic basketball players ever ーhe's been asked about that a million times. I don't want to talk about basketball, I want to talk about him."