NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission. All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.
Mary Winkler's Appearance on Oprah
As many of you know, Mary Winkler recently appeared on Oprah. To watch the show in its entirety, click here. Oprah was annoyingly sympathetic to Winkler, and seemed to buy her abused wife shtick. My opinion of her claims is as follows: 1) Winkler provided no substantive evidence for her claims--no medical reports, no police reports, no 911 calls, nothing. 2) The defense did put a few people on the stand who testified as to various indirect indications that Winkler might have been abused. A couple of these were of some value. For example, a doctor said Winkler visited her one time with what he described as a "minor injury" to her face, which Winkler said at the time came when a kids' softball hit her. She now claims this was an example of Matthew's abuse of her. The doctor said the injury was consistent with either one. Also, Winkler's father testified as to seeing injuries on Mary previously, which Mary denied were related to abuse. Of course, even if these were true examples of abuse--and it's far from clear that they are--it doesn't mean that Matthew was the aggressor. Research shows that a large percentage of domestic violence is mutual abuse--Mary's alleged injuries could've been the end result of her attacks on Matthew. We'll never know whether Matthew was abusive or not, but we do know that one member of that household was violent--Mary Winkler. Anybody capable of shooting a sleeping man in the back and allowing him to bleed to death is certainly capable of initiating domestic violence in the home. 3) Some of the other witnesses were meaningless, including one neighbor who said that Matthew threatened to shoot his dog because it kept coming to Matthew's house and barking at night and waking him up. I guess my wife and I are abusers, too--at our previous house our neighbors' dog would bark outside our window at 3 AM, and after several complaints we banged on my neighbor's door and screamed at him, and, if we didn't threaten to shoot the damn thing, we should've. 4) One of the few times on Oprah where Oprah did voice skepticism was when Mary described the morning of the crime. Winkler told Oprah she was angry at her husband and "just wanted to talk to him," and then she "heard a boom.' A more complete description of the incident would have been that she wanted to talk to him, waited until he fell asleep, retrieved the shotgun, pumped it, aimed it at his back, pulled the trigger, and then "heard a boom.' 5) Ironically, the truth-teller on the show was feminist Court TV commentator Lisa Bloom, Gloria Allred"s daughter. Bloom said, "At Court TV a collective gasp went up at this verdict. We all thought it was a first degree murder case....Didn't she make the decision to allow him to fall asleep? Didn't she make the decision to go into that closet and get that gun? Didn't she make the decision to aim it at Matthew and pull the trigger?" Bloom also asserted that "there wasn't much corroboration [of the abuse] at the trial." 6) Perhaps the most absurd aspect of both the trial and Oprah was the way Mary highlighted the white platform shoes which she claimed Matthew "made her' wear, and which she said were deeply humiliating to her. During the trial, Mary held up the shoe and bowed her head down in mock pain and shame. Oprah bought it, telling her audience that on her show "everybody gasped when they saw the shoe.' Bloom explained to Oprah that in any "big city" people would have "laughed at' Mary"s claims that the shoes were part of the "abuse' she suffered.