Oprah sorry for Switzerland racial flap - KMSP-TV

Oprah sorry for Switzerland racial flap

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(WJBK) -

The Zurich boutique clerk accused of racially profiling Oprah Winfrey is firing back - claiming the media mogul's account "is not true."

"I would never say something like that to a customer. Really never," the unidentified Italian woman told a Swiss newspaper.

Though Winfrey didn't reveal the name of the establishment, the interview caused a national uproar in Switzerland when a local paper revealed the shop. The European nation's official tourism office condemned the attendant's conduct as "terribly wrong."

The international incident was sparked by Winfrey's trip to Switzerland last month for her friend Tina Turner's wedding, but not revealed by the billionaire media mogul until an interview with 'Entertainment Tonight' last week.

Winfrey said she asked a clerk to see a $38,000 Tom Ford bag behind a glass case, but the clerk said, ‘No, it's too expensive.'

The shop attendant has a much different version of events than the one relayed by Winfrey.

"I simply told her that it was like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags. It is absolutely not true that I declined to show her the bag on racist grounds. I even asked her if she wanted to look at the bag."

"She looked around the store again but didn't say anything else. Then she went with her companion to the lower floor. My colleague saw them to the door. They were not even in the store for five minutes."

"Store owner Trudie Goetz publicly defended her employee, telling Reuters, "This is an absolute classic misunderstanding possibly caused by the clerk's imperfect command of English."

When asked by the Swiss newspaper what she would say to Winfrey if she had the chance to talk to her again, the clerk responded: "I would apologize and say it was all a misunderstanding. I surely did not intentionally want to insult Ms. Winfrey," she said. "I hope this nightmare ends soon."

Winfrey seems to agree on that point. Offering up her own apology at the premiere for her upcoming film 'TheButler' in Los Angeles. "I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland. I'm really sorry that it got blown up. I purposefully did not mention the name of the store. I'm sorry that I said it was Switzerland. I was just referencing it as an example of being in a place where people don't expect that you would be able to be there."

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