Days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, then-Senator Joe Biden had been advised that he should make an address to a frightened nation before the National Press Club. Instead, he phoned Oprah.
Biden, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, decided that The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated daytime television show in the country at the time, was the best way for his message to reach the biggest audience of frightened Americans.
“They do not have the capacity to take this nation down,” Biden told the studio audience six days after the attacks, reassuring Americans that President Geore W. Bush “has his eye on the ball” and had built a coalition of global partners to keep the nation safe. Biden’s address to the nation on Oprah was seen as a major moment for the future vice president: a call for calm during a time of national crisis, with an audience numbering in the tens of millions, many of them stuck in their homes.