Like so many millions, I just watched Oprah’s interview with Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. Her special reminded me of what a remarkable interviewer she is.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “Sunshine makes the best disinfectant.”

Oprah’s interview with her incisive and yet non-judgmental questioning certainly disinfected the toxic relationship within the Royal Family, a.k.a. the Institution, and laid bare a description that the world can now process and come to whatever conclusions it may.

It caused me to wonder if and how Oprah might turn her “disinfecting” lens on the partisan gridlock in Washington which appears to stall progress on matters important, critical and urgent to our immediate circumstances and future.

A few years back, Oprah reported on a program on Trauma Informed Care on 60 Minutes.

In the 60 Minutes Overtime segment, Oprah shared how that story was one of the most life changing in her amazing career.

When she was asked what made it so, she replied that the highly successful program never reacted to children’s overt behavior with judgment or even advice. Instead, they always asked these children who were acting out and acting up, “What happened to you that caused you to do what you did?” In other words, they assumed innocence inside these children and also assumed that if they were misbehaving, that something had happened to cause them to act that way.

My fantasy about how she could Oprahfy Washington and help end gridlock in Washington would be for her to do a televised program in which she would interview together, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell, arguably the most non-President influential voices in their parties.

In that interview she would ask each of them the following questions:

  1. On the topics of the economy, healthcare, Covid-19, foreign policy, race relations, law enforcement, education, homelessness, mental health (add any other pressing issues) what are you and your party’s positions that you feel most strongly about?
  2. How did you and your party come to those positions and why?
  3. What alternatives did you consider and rule out and why?
  4. What is the makeup of the entire constituencies that you each represent and who voted you into office?
  5. If you were to create an avatar that would be representative of those constituencies, what would be most important to that avatar regarding each of those issues and what is your evidence for that?
  6. Tell us how your current position on those issues is in the best interest of your entire constituency.

Then if Oprah served as an avatar of all of America, one would hope that her point of view towards Pelosi and McConnell, would be that the less either of them had to hide, the less they would have to fear in answering these questions.

And the more either demonstrated discomfort in their answers, the more they would be hiding.

Might such an interview with Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell in the “sunlight” of a public live broadcast asking the above questions offer a chance to disinfect the gridlock that is now infecting Washington and keeping progress at a stalemate?

At the very least it could serve as a strong nudge to remind them that they are serving their constituencies, and the American people first, and their political party second.

It couldn’t hurt.


  • Mark Goulston, M.D.

    Author, speaker, podcast host, psychiatrist

    Dr. Mark Goulston is the inventor and developer of Surgical Empathy an approach that helps people to break their attachments to counterproductive modes of functioning and frees them to connect with more productive and healthier alternatives. He is the host of the “My Wakeup Call” podcast where he interviews people on the wakeup calls that changed who they are and made them better human beings and at being human and the host of the LinkedIn Live show, "No Strings Attached." He is a Founding Member of the Newsweek Expert Forum. He is one of the world’s foremost experts on deep listening, radical empathy and real influence with his book, “Just Listen,” becoming the top book on listening in the world, translated into twenty languages and a topic he speaks and teaches globally. He is an advisor, coach, mentor and confidante to CEO’s, founders and entrepreneurs helping them to unlock all their internal blocks to achieving success, fulfillment and happiness. Originally a UCLA professor of psychiatry and crisis psychiatrist for over 25 years, and former FBI and police hostage negotiation trainer, Dr. Goulston's expertise has been forged and proven in the crucible of real-life, high stakes situations including being a boots on the ground suicide prevention specialist and serving as an advisor in the OJ Simpson criminal trial. Including, “Just Listen,” he is the author or co-author of nine books with multiple best sellers. He writes or contributes to Harvard Business Review, Business Insider, Biz Journals, Fast Company, Huffington Post, Psychology Today and has appeared as an psychological expert in the media including: CNN, Headline News, msNBC, Fox News, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, Fortune, Psychology Today and was the subject of a PBS special. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, California.