One more reason to love Oprah
I’ve always loved Oprah. So I was very disapointed when she called into the Larry King show and defended James Frey when thesmokinggun allegations first arose against him.
She more than redeemed herself on her show today with James Frey as her guest. Unlike Larry King, who tossed softball after softball to Frey, she repeatedly asked the hard questions. And it became increasingly clear that just about everything interesting in his memoirs is made up.
I admire someone who can change their mind and admit a mistake like Oprah did today. It is even harder to do so in front of millions of people.
Too bad Frey hasn’t shown the same degree of character.
Some quotes from Oprah today:
“I regret that phone call [to the Larry King show]. I made a mistake and I left the impression that the truth does not matter. And I am deeply sorry about that because that is not what I believe. I called in because I love the message of this book and, at the time and every day, I was reading e-mail after e-mail from so many people who have been inspired by it. And I have to say that I allowed that to cloud my judgment. And so to everyone who has challenged me on this issue of truth, you are absolutely right.”
“I have to say it is difficult for me to talk to you because I really feel duped. I feel duped. But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers. And I think, you know, it’s such a gift to have millions of people to read your work, and that bothers me greatly. And so now as I sit here today, I don’t know what is truth and I don’t know what isn’t.”
Winfrey: “I have been really embarrassed by this and, more importantly, feel that I acted in defense of you and…I was really behind this book because so many people seem to have gotten so much out of it, and I believed in the fact that so many people were. But now, I feel that you conned us all. Do you?”
Frey: “I don’t feel like I conned you guys.”
Of particular interest to me, having looked into the issue in an earlier blog post, was his admission that the character Lily did not commit suicide by hanging herself:
Winfrey: “OK. Let’s get back to Lily. Was your description of how she died true?”
Frey: “She committed suicide, yeah.”
Winfrey: “She hung herself?”
Frey: “I mean, that was one of the details I altered about her….Because all the way through the book, I altered details about every single one of the characters to render them unidentifiable.”
Winfrey: “So how did she die?”
Frey: “She cut her wrists.”
Winfrey: “And so hanging is more dramatic than cutting your wrists? Is that why you chose hanging?”
Frey: “I don’t think either are more dramatic than either…”