Fact Check

Mel Gibson Exposes Oprah Winfrey's 'Questionable Action' for 'Hollywood Elites'?

A YouTube video that had potentially been viewed tens of millions of times claimed that Gibson had exposed Winfrey's ties to criminal activity.

Published Aug 11, 2023

Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage (Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage)
Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage
Claim:
A video provides evidence that shows Mel Gibson exposed Oprah Winfrey regarding a "questionable action for Hollywood elites."

In July 2023, a purported celebrity news YouTube channel known as Just In (@JustInCeleb) published a new video that claimed film actor and director Mel Gibson had exposed entertainment icon Oprah Winfrey regarding "Sound of Freedom," a film centered on child-sex trafficking. The title read, "Mel Gibson Exposes Oprah's QUESTIONABLE Action For Hollywood Elite."

However, no part of the video, including its AI-generated narrator voice, ever presented evidence that Gibson had exposed Winfrey for anything. It was nothing more than misleading clickbait that was apparently meant to rake in YouTube advertising revenue based on obtaining video views from users who might be prone to placing blind trust in content as long as it agrees with their preexisting, evidence-free viewpoints.

In this story, we've detailed multiple key points about the video, including its massive view count and the primary claims that were being made about Gibson and Winfrey.

The Misleading Video's Virality

By early August, the original video link on the Just In YouTube channel had either been deleted or switched to private. We previously reached out to the channel to ask about its content, but did not receive a response.

Before the original video became unavailable, multiple YouTube users reposted the full clip in their own reaction videos. In seemingly all of these reaction videos, the users who were reacting repeatedly made shocked and disgusted facial expressions and indicated with words to their viewers that, after watching the clip, they had concerns about Winfrey. Most of the people who posted reaction videos did not appear to spend even a few seconds to search the internet for information that would reveal the inaccuracies that the original video had misleadingly presented as facts.

One reaction video that was posted by a prominent YouTube user was viewed nearly 3 million times. Other reaction videos had view counts that stretched as high as the tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands.

When combining the likely view count of the original video with the views of all of the reaction videos (and TikTok reposts), it's entirely possible that the total view count for the clip extended into the tens of millions.

The Beginning of the Video

The video began with remarks from past clips that featured Gibson and Winfrey, as well as the fake, AI-generated narrator voice:

MEL GIBSON: [The] first time I really came over here. You know, I had a whole bunch of weird, paranoid suspicions, about what the hell was going on because there was a lot of stuff I couldn't understand.

OPRAH WINFREY: You're seven years old and someone is stroking your penis. It feels good.

GIBSON: Our future is our children. Now, the first step in eradicating this crime is awareness.

NARRATOR: The latest buzz in Tinseltown is all about Mel Gibson's explosive revelations in the film, "Sound of Freedom." Brace yourselves as Mel pulls back the curtain on the dark underbelly of Hollywood's elite, exposing their alleged involvement in the scandalous world of illicit human trade. And guess who's caught right in the middle of it? None other than the iconic Oprah Winfrey herself. So, what exactly did Mel say?

GIBSON: Our future is our children. Now, the first step in eradicating this crime is awareness.

We've broken down several of these introductory parts of the video below.

Gibson's 'Weird, Paranoid Suspicions'

Gibson's comments at the beginning of the video came from an interview that was conducted back in 1998.

We previously published a comprehensive report that laid out how the contents of that interview had been misleadingly edited and then reposted around the release date of "Sound of Freedom" in July 2023.

Winfrey's '7 Years Old' Remark

As for Winfrey's comment about the seven-year-old, that clip was taken out of context from the 2019 special, "Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland."

In the special, Winfrey interviewed Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two subjects of the two-part HBO documentary "Leaving Neverland," who both said they were sexually abused by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Prior to Jackson's death, he had denied that such allegations were true.

In other words, Winfrey's remarks were part of an interview in which she was trying to openly talk about and somewhat expose the way that child-sex abusers commit their crimes.

Here are Winfrey's full remarks from the full context of the interview:

OPRAH WINFREY: So this is what so many people don't understand. A big part of the confusion and shame for child victims is that the attention and the seduction from the predator who is probably gonna be somebody you know. In order for it to work, it has to be somebody you know, somebody you admire, somebody you respect, or maybe even love. And, it feels good. I mean, if you're seven years old, and somebody, which I was trying to say this to my friend, to their children, if you're seven years old and someone is stroking your penis, it feels good. Even though you don't have a name for what that is, it feels good.

WADE ROBSON: And that was such a particularly challenging part for me in beginning therapy. That was one of the biggest things I kept bringing to therapy was, "What does it mean that it felt good? What does that mean about me?"

WINFREY: Well that's one of the reasons it's so confusing for children. And when I first said this years ago, people were like, "You're crazy," because everybody wants to believe it's like sexual assault and you're being thrown up against the wall and you're being raped. And I have said for years, if the abuser is any good, you won't even know it's happened. You will be in it and you won't even know it's happened. And if the abuser is any good, he or she is going to make you feel like you're part of it.

This portion of the interview begins at the 32:36 mark in the YouTube video below:

In May 2020, Reuters also reported about a rumor that was being shared in relation to the interview, writing, in part, "Social media users have been sharing a video clip of Oprah Winfrey taken out of context and incorrectly headlined to allege she is condoning the sexual abuse of children. This is misleading and false."

Gibson Didn't Star in 'Sound of Freedom'

The original video published by the Just In YouTube channel falsely claimed that Gibson portrayed the "lead role" of Tim Ballard in "Sound of Freedom." However, that character was played by Jim Caviezel.

Gibson was not credited with directing, producing, writing, or apparently having anything to do with "Sound of Freedom," which was released on July 4, 2023. According to IMDb.com, the film was directed by Alejandro Monteverde, written by Rod Barr and Monteverde, and had multiple producers, none of which was Gibson.

Gibson did, however, help to promote the film by recording a short video. It was from that promotional video that the Just In YouTube channel pulled the remark, "Our future is our children. Now, the first step in eradicating this crime is awareness."

Gibson Didn't Make Remarks About Winfrey

"So, what exactly did Mel say?," the narrator in the Just In YouTube channel's viral video asked.

The answer to the narrator's question: Nothing.

Again, as previously mentioned, we found no record of Gibson having made any remarks about Winfrey on the subject, nor was there any evidence to support the long-running conspiracy theory that claimed she was involved in human-sex trafficking.

The rest of the viral video discussed various topics that we already extensively covered in another fact check, which dealt with a similar false claim to the effect that stand-up comedian Dave Chappelle had also "exposed" Winfrey.

Sources

AllThings. "Oprah Winfrey 'Leaving Neverland' Full Interview with Accusers." YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZwQ0E3iT9I.

"False Claim: Oprah Winfrey's Comments Appear to Condone Child Abuse." Reuters, 11 May 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-oprah-child-abuse-idUSKBN22N2XI.

Gibson, Devin. "NOW IT ALL MAKES SENSE! MEL GIBSON EXPOSES OPRAH'S SECRETS AND THIS HAPPENED…." YouTube, 21 July 2023, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCor-QmT8zo.

Landrum, Jr., Jonathan. "Michael Jackson's Popularity Endures, Even after New Scandal." The Associated Press, 23 June 2019, https://apnews.com/article/c9cb0206f6c6475480b8dedf31b071b1.

"LEAVING NEVERLAND | Official Website for the HBO Series | HBO.com." HBO, https://www.hbo.com/leaving-neverland.

Liles, Jordan. "Did Dave Chappelle Expose Oprah Winfrey as a 'Handler for Hollywood Elites'?" Snopes, 14 July 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/chappelle-exposes-oprah-video/.

---. "Mel Gibson Interview from 1998 Goes Viral with 'Sound of Freedom' Release." Snopes, 11 July 2023, https://www.snopes.com/news/2023/07/11/mel-gibson-1998-interview/.

"Mel Gibson Exposes Oprah's QUESTIONABLE Action For Hollywood Elite - Published Today." BitChute, https://www.bitchute.com/video/TeBcgJoSo9rS/.

Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland | Watch the Movie on HBO | HBO.com. https://www.hbo.com/movies/oprah-winfrey-presents-after-neverland.

Rugg, Collin. "NEW: Mel Gibson Is Promoting 'Sound of Freedom' Which Is Set to Be Released Tomorrow July 4th, Exposing the Reality of Child Sex Trafficking." Twitter, 3 July 2023, https://twitter.com/CollinRugg/status/1675866928018243585.

"Sound of Freedom." IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/title/tt7599146/.

Tsioulcas, Anastasia. "Michael Jackson: A Quarter-Century Of Sexual Abuse Allegations." NPR, 5 Mar. 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/03/05/699995484/michael-jackson-a-quarter-century-of-sexual-abuse-allegations.

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