Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson faced backlash when asking for donations to a Maui fund.
Winfrey responded to the criticism on CBS Mornings and said she had been "vilified" online.
Many fans were unimpressed with Winfrey's comments and felt she hadn't directly addressed the issue.
Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson faced a huge wave of criticism when they launched a fundraising campaign last month for residents dealing with the wildfires in Hawaii after they asked regular people to donate. After weeks of backlash, Winfrey finally responded, but fans were left unimpressed by her comments.
In August, wildfires swept through large sections of Maui, Hawaii, damaging or destroying thousands of structures, which led to the death of 115 people, CNN reported. The fire in the area of Lahaina has been fully contained, while fires in Olinda and Kula have been 90% and 95% contained respectively, according to a statement published by the County of Maui on September 12.
On August 31, Winfrey and Johnson appeared on both their Instagram and TikTok accounts to announce their charitable venture the People's Fund of Maui, which aimed to raise money for those directly impacted by the wildfires, and appealed to viewers to contribute funds.
A lengthy caption alongside the post stated they had personally kickstarted the fund with a $10 million donation between them and encouraged others to donate too.
The video received significant backlash, as thousands of comments across social media questioned why the duo couldn't dig deeper into their own pockets as viewers pointed to their vast personal wealth, or why they couldn't ask fellow celebrities for money, instead of appealing to ordinary people who may be struggling financially.
Forbes has estimated Winfrey's net worth at $2.5 billion, and Johnson's at $270 million, which means they contributed less than 0.5% of their total wealth to the fundraiser, Insider previously reported.
Winfrey responded to the backlash but some felt she had avoided the main criticism
On Tuesday, Winfrey appeared on CBS Mornings to promote her new book and directly addressed the backlash.
In the segment, which was posted to TikTok and YouTube, Winfrey described the criticism as an "onslaught of being terrorized and vilified online" and said it gave her "so much more compassion" for younger people who may have been through a similar online experience.
"I was so excited, and I got up the next morning and I saw all of this vitriol, and I was like, woah, what happened here?" Winfrey said during the interview, adding she still thought the fundraiser was "a really strong idea."
She referred to the backlash as "attacks, lies, conspiracy theories" and said it "really took the focus off of what was the most important thing, and that was the people of Maui."
Winfrey went on to explain the campaign was partly inspired by Dolly Parton's philanthropy, in particular the country singer launching a fund in 2016 to help residents in Tennessee affected by wildfires.
The TikTok of the interview posted by CBS Mornings received over 880,000 views and just 18,300 likes compared to 13,500 comments — an unusually low ratio for a video of this size, suggesting it wasn't well received.
While a small portion of comments appeared to come to the defense of Winfrey, as they had throughout previous weeks, the majority continued the criticism, as they felt Winfrey hadn't directly addressed the core issue viewers had expressed — that the duo had asked regular people to donate funds instead of contributing more themselves.
"Did Oprah just double down and gaslight us??" one viewer wrote in a popular comment. "She still not getting it," another top comment read.
A TikToker who goes by @tanyabeautycoach received over 650,000 views when she posted a response video on September 12, which showed a section of the CBS Mornings interview and suggested Winfrey was simply dismissing the criticism as coming from "haters" and blocking her ears to the feedback. The video prompted a further 4,850 comments on the topic who continued to be critical of both the fundraiser and how Winfrey was handling the reaction.
"They don't value our opinion but want our money," a viewer wrote in a popular comment that received over 1,760 likes, while others dismissed Winfrey as being "out of touch," dubbed her response as "maddening" and predicted more criticism would come her way.
Neither Winfrey nor Johnson immediately responded to a request for comment from Insider.
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