Malheur County Sheriff Travis Johnson steps into the limelight with television spot

VALE – Travis Johnson isn’t new to the limelight.

Malheur County sheriff since April 2023, he’s been interviewed by local and state media many times.

But he’s never been on television.

That changed two weeks ago when Johnson traveled to Fort Worth, Texas, to be interviewed by Phillip McGraw, better known as the television personality Dr. Phil.

“It was a little bit overwhelming,” said Johnson.

Johnson was interviewed as part of Dr. Phil’s new show, “Dr. Phil Primetime,” the flagship program of McGraw’s Merit Street Media. The new show premiers next month and will be available on DirectTV, Dish and various cable systems.

The schedule for airing Johnson’s appearance hasn’t been set.

Johnson said McGraw’s producers reached out to him in early March after they saw news coverage regarding his comments on the effort to revamp Ballot Measure 110.

“That is a little out of my comfort zone,” said Johnson.The Legislature earlier this year restored criminal penalties for possession of a small amount of illegal narcotics such as methamphetamine or fentanyl.

Johnson said he talked to a few people about the proposal and decided to accept the invitation.

The rest, he said, was straightforward.

“They scheduled all of my flights and gave me an itinerary. But it was definitely a quick trip,” he said.

Johnson left the evening of Tuesday, March 12, appeared on “Dr. Phil Primetime” the next day and was back in Malheur County that night.

Appearing with Johnson was state Rep. Kevin Mannix, R-Salem and state Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend.

Johnson said McGraw’s questions focused on “the best way forward and we talked about funding.”

After the show Johnson said he met with McGraw backstage.

“He seemed to be a pretty down to earth guy with good values. He thanked me for coming down,” said Johnson.

Johnson said a picture was snapped with him and McGraw and then he was off to the airport and back to Oregon.

Johnson said he was pleased to get on the show to talk about an issue he feels strongly about.

Johnson was a critic of Ballot Measure 110.

“He (McGraw) was supportive of our cause. He basically said it was a bad idea so it was a good opportunity to promote what you believe in,” said Johnson.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

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