Fact Check

Did Dave Chappelle Expose Oprah Winfrey as a 'Handler for Hollywood Elites'?

"Dave Chappelle is back at it again, exposing Hollywood handlers. And this time, he's dragging Oprah," a viral video's narrator said.

Published Jul 14, 2023

Dave Chappelle speaks onstage during the Dave Chappelle theatre dedication ceremony at Duke Ellington School of the Arts on June 20, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images) (Shannon Finney/Getty Images)
Image Via Shannon Finney/Getty Images
Claim:
A video displays evidence that shows Dave Chappelle exposed Oprah Winfrey as a "handler for Hollywood elites."

On June 9, 2023, a YouTube video was posted on the This Happened YouTube channel with the title, "Dave Chappelle Exposes Oprah For Being A HANDLER For Hollywood Elites." It was later reshared in two parts on TikTok and also appeared in a popular reaction video from another YouTube user. Combined, these postings were viewed around four million times.

The viral video made a number of claims. However, clearly, the video's primary assertion – its title – was that stand-up comedian Dave Chappelle had purportedly said something negative about TV personality and entertainment icon Oprah Winfrey.

To be clear, this central claim – that Chappelle exposed Winfrey as a handler for Hollywood elites – was false.

At no time during the video did its creators present any evidence of Chappelle ever saying anything that could be described as him "exposing" Winfrey. Still, an enormous number of YouTube commenters appeared to believe that assertion. Had they viewed the full video, they would have found that it didn't show him even saying one negative thing about Winfrey.

Meanwhile, on TikTok, commenters appeared to be a bit sharper in their focus. One top-voted TikTok comment directed at the user who posted the video read, "I think you're missing the part of Dave Chappelle actually exposing her." Another person remarked, "So, there's no actual story here where Dave Chappelle calls out anyone?"

We reached out to the This Happened YouTube channel's creators on July 14 in order to ask questions. The channel claimed to be associated with a publishing company named Crealon. We also contacted representation for Chappelle and Winfrey to find out if they wanted to share statements regarding the rumor. However, we did not receive any responses by the next morning.

In this story, we'll look at the false claim that appears in the video's title. We've also documented data and sources that explain the other contents of the video unrelated to Chappelle, including a mention of a controversy involving a famous actor, allegations of trafficking, João de Deus, Harvey Weinstein, and Jeffrey Epstein. Additionally, we'll take a look back at Winfrey's 2006 interview with Chappelle on her show, which appeared briefly during the YouTube video.

Breaking Down the Video

The video began with an unnamed narrator saying, "Dave Chappelle is back at it again, exposing Hollywood handlers. And this time, he's dragging Oprah for profiting off of other people's suffering and doing business with shady elites."

Next, a clip was shown with Chappelle speaking in front of a crowd, in which he had said, "When a hero stumbles, the cowards rejoice. Nothing feels better to a coward than to watch a brave guy fall."

The implication was that Chappelle was naming Winfrey as being a coward.

However, a check of the source of these remarks showed that the context of the "coward" he had referenced was not about Winfrey. Rather, Chappelle explained seconds later that he was talking about a minority of people who had reacted in an unkind way to news from 2021 about him testing positive for COVID-19.

Winfrey, Mo'Nique, and Trafficking Allegations

In the next part of the video, the narrator claimed, "See, Oprah has been involved in numerous controversies throughout her career. From claims that she blackballs and destroys the careers of everyone who criticizes her, to much more disturbing allegations of alleged involvement in human trafficking."

Much of the video concentrated on a controversy involving Winfrey and comedian and actor Mo'Nique, both of whom are Academy Award winners. Nothing about this matter had anything to do with Chappelle.

A quick refresher for readers who don't read much news from the entertainment world: The Mo'Nique reference was partially about a disagreement surrounding her decision not to participate in a press tour for 2009's "Precious," a film on which Winfrey served as executive producer, as well as the purported fallout Mo'Nique experienced from that moment in time. Readers can learn more about this specific matter in past reporting from Entertainment TonightVanity Fair, and The Hollywood Reporter.

As for the video narrator's mention of Winfrey and her "alleged involvement in human trafficking," we turn back the clock to March 17, 2020. At a time when most Americans were beginning to understand the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic would have on society, a false rumor began trending online that claimed one of Winfrey's homes had been raided by police, and that it supposedly regarded her involvement in sex trafficking. Winfrey responded on Twitter, calling the claims "awful" and untrue.

Winfrey and João de Deus

In the YouTube video that mentioned Chappelle but never presented evidence of him exposing Winfrey, the mention of trafficking allegations against Winfrey was followed up by a brief clip that had apparently been pulled from TikTok, in which a user said, "Oprah Winfrey and her BFF. The man in this photo is 'John of God.' Oprah promoted him as a miracle healer. This man kept women chained to impregnate so he could sell their babies for organs."

This mention of João de Deus (or John of God), whose real name is João Teixeira de Faria, referred to the fact that, in the past, Winfrey had promoted him on her talk show, calling him a "spiritual healer" and saying she was "humbled" by his work in Brazil during an interview segment from 2012.

João de Deus's healing practices reportedly included offering crystal beds, eyeball scrapings, the removal of cancer, and other body incisions without the use of anesthesia. 

In the years following Winfrey's promotion of João de Deus's practices, the 77-year-old was convicted multiple times of crimes, including nine sexual assaults, with abuse allegations coming from hundreds of women, which led to him being sent to prison for decades.

In 2019, The Associated Press reported on the matter, including a statement issued by Winfrey in light of the news:

João Teixeira de Faria drew people from all over the world to his small city two hours west of capital, Brasilia, with promises he could treat everything from depression to cancer, and attended to as many as 10,000 patients per week. Hundreds of women, including his daughter, alleged he regularly engaged in abuse ranging from groping to rape.

Even Oprah Winfrey visited João de Deus in 2012 to interview him for her talk show, and called him "inspiring." After the accusations surfaced, Winfrey issued a statement saying she sympathized with the alleged victims and hoped they receive justice.

In 2020, João de Deus was reportedly released from prison and into house arrest, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Sun.

Winfrey, Harvey Weinstein, and Jeffrey Epstein

Among the many claims that were presented in the main video covered in this article, one of them concerned Winfrey's past interactions with former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who was twice convicted of sex crimes, leading to combined sentences of 39 years in prison.

Prior to these convictions, Winfrey responded to the allegations and quoted filmmaker James Schamus, who had said, "This is the story of one predator and his many victims; but it is also a story about an overwhelming systemic enabling, and until that story is fully told we will fall far short of stopping future depredations on a similar scale."

In 2018, we covered a different rumor regarding Winfrey and Weinstein that falsely claimed she had brushed off accusations against him, supposedly saying "this is just how it is" for people who want to get ahead in the media industry.

Aside from Weinstein, the video also mentioned Winfrey purportedly having involvement with Jeffrey Epstein, then presented no evidence of the two ever having interacted.

Epstein, a convicted sex offender, was found dead in his jail cell in 2019. An autopsy ruled the death as a suicide by hanging. His death led to a wave of conspiracy theories that continue to this day.

'Sources Close to Dave Chappelle'

Near the end of the YouTube video, Chappelle was mentioned once more, with the narrator saying, "Sources close to Dave Chappelle are now saying Dave is not surprised to hear all of these new allegations about Oprah, because he allegedly always believed that she was a handler who works for the Hollywood elites. As for fans, they're praising Dave for speaking out against Oprah."

The video ended with zero evidence supporting the claim that Chappelle had attempted to expose Winfrey.

The creators of the This Happened YouTube channel claimed on their "About" page to be located in the U.S. At the same time, the Facebook page for This Happened showed in its revealing "Page Transparency" section that its only two page managers were located in India and United Arab Emirates.

False Claims of Winfrey Responding to Chappelle

Additionally, two other videos were posted on two YouTube channels that also appeared to be affiliated with the Crealon publishing company. The channel names were Rumoured and Just In. One of the video titles read, "Oprah Speaks On Dave Chappelle Exposing Her Being A Hollywood HANDLER," while the other claimed, "Oprah FREAKS OUT After Dave Chappelle Drops BOMBSHELL ACCUSATIONS."

However, just like with the main video we covered in this story, during no part of these two other videos did they show Winfrey speaking about Chappelle having supposedly exposed her.

Winfrey's 2006 Interview with Chappelle

Chappelle previously sat down with Winfrey in 2006 to discuss why he decided to leave behind $50 million to continue his popular program, "Chappelle's Show." Clips from the interview were included in the viral video from This Happened.

Near the end of this video, Chappelle spoke on the subject of a false rumor that had circulated after he left his show, much like the false rumor that claimed he had exposed Winfrey.

In the 2006 interview, Chappelle said, "This is sounding like the most irresponsible journalism in the world. I cannot imagine being a journalist and hearing this from these people, and just running with it."

Sources

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Beckett, Lois. "Harvey Weinstein Sentenced to 16 Additional Years for LA Rape Conviction." The Guardian, 24 Feb. 2023. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/23/harvey-weinstein-los-angeles-rape-conviction-sentencing.

Biller, David. "Brazil Spiritual Healer Sentenced to 19 Years for Four Rapes." The Associated Press, 19 Dec. 2019, https://apnews.com/article/640fa96ba4ba594fc0e5027c99960186.

Bonilla, Ernesto. "John of God: An Enigma for the Medical Sciences." Investigación Clínica, vol. 55, no. 4, Dec. 2014, pp. 392–99. ve.scielo.org, http://ve.scielo.org/scielo.php?script=sci_abstract&pid=S0535-51332014000400009&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=en.

Brown, Hayes. "John Of God Was Once Hyped By Oprah. Now He's Accused Of Abusing Hundreds Of Women." BuzzFeed News, 14 Dec. 2018, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/hayesbrown/john-god-joao-deus-brazil-healer-allegations-sexual-abuse.

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Helsel, Phil, et al. "Harvey Weinstein Sentenced to 16 Years in L.A. Rape Conviction." NBC News, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/harvey-weinsteins-prison-term-double-l-rape-sentence-rcna71702.

"John of God Makes Operation on Oprah Winfrey Joao de Deus Faz Operação Em Oprah Winfrey." YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-kwcmBZ5CI.

Lindsay, Kathryn. "Oprah Winfrey Speaks Publicly About Harvey Weinstein For The First Time: 'This Is A Watershed Moment.'" Refinery29.Com, 18 Oct. 2017, https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2017/10/177204/oprah-winfrey-addresses-harvey-weinstein-watershed-moment.

"Medical Examiner Rules Epstein Death a Suicide by Hanging." The Associated Press, 17 Aug. 2019, https://apnews.com/article/a947e0d85d31496eb5bd9ff4994c9718.

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Mo'Nique Reveals Why She Still Wants a Public Apology From Oprah Winfrey | Entertainment Tonight. 8 Mar. 2023, https://www.etonline.com/monique-reveals-why-she-still-wants-a-public-apology-from-oprah-winfrey-200491.

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RELENTLESS LEX. "Dave Chappelle Exposes Oprah For Being A HANDLER For Hollywood Elites REACTION!!!" YouTube, 13 June 2023, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6xq6PtyxIk.

Saniele, Bruna. "João de Deus Sentenced to Another 40 Years in Jail." Agência Brasil, 21 Jan. 2020, https://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/en/justica/noticia/2020-01/joao-de-deus-sentenced-another-40-years-jail.

Smail, Gretchen. "This New Netflix Docuseries Follows A Spiritual Con Man." Bustle, 25 Aug. 2021, https://www.bustle.com/entertainment/where-is-joao-teixeira-de-faria-john-of-god-now-still-in-prison.

This Happened. "Dave Chappelle Exposes Oprah For Being A HANDLER For Hollywood Elites." YouTube, 9 June 2023, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHN3wgK4gtk.

Walsh, Savannah. "Mo'Nique Is Still Waiting for Public Apologies From Oprah and Tyler Perry." Vanity Fair, 8 Mar. 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2023/03/monique-is-still-waiting-for-apologies-from-oprah-and-tyler-perry.

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Winfrey, Oprah. "I've Been Processing the Accounts of Harvey Weinstein's Hideous Behavior and Haven't Been Able to Find the Words to Articulate the Magnitude of the Situation." Facebook, 12 Oct. 2017, https://www.facebook.com/oprahwinfrey/posts/10155817581027220.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.