Oprah has endured her share of knocks lately—first there was the flap over her endorsing yet another memoirist who fabricated facts, then there was the fracas about her gaining weight even though she employs a legion of people to keep her trim. But her brilliant manipulation of the octuplets’ circus suggests her mojo is back. Winfrey cannily sidestepped a face-to-face with the much-reviled, fame-seeking mother of 14, Nadya Suleman, who had expressed desire to tell her story on the show. Instead, she sat down with Suleman’s father, Ed Doud, today to tape an interview that will air Feb. 24. In the snippets released, Doud echoes public sentiment about his daughter, calling her and her fertility doctor “absolutely irresponsible.” He also expressed doubt about her sanity: “Now I’m no psychiatrist, but I question her mental situation,” he said. Yet he also used the powerful Oprah platform to ask for financial assistance for the family—not for his troubled daughter, but rather her vulnerable children: “I say to everybody now: People, we do need help. Do not punish my daughter for what she had done and do not punish the babies, because they were given by God.” All in all, brilliantly played.