January 30, 2006

Oprah, The BS Queen

I think I've already talked this issue to death. Both in private emails and a couple of listserves. But the NY Times ran yet another Op-Ed on the Oprah-Frey mess:

How Oprahness Trumped Truthiness - New York Times

FOOL millions, make millions. Fool Oprah, lord help you.

James Frey, the author of "A Million Little Pieces" which could yet become the first book ever to lead both the fiction and nonfiction best-seller lists reported to the set of "Oprah" on Thursday to complete his public abasement. Ms. Winfrey turned on him with calculated efficiency, using him to mop up the floor and clean up her reputation at the same time.

She did not stop there, going on to lecture Nan A. Talese, the head of Doubleday, about the need for the book industry to be more careful in choosing what to stand behind good advice, from someone who should know. Her show was a tutorial in how to take responsibility and deflect it to others at the same time; by the end, the truth and Ms. Winfrey were aggrieved in equal measure.

Very early on, J. Bernard Jones provided a dead-on, level- and clear-headed counter-point to all the fawning others have heaped Oprah's way.

Below is my response cut-N-pasted from one of the listserves (warning: it may not be too coherent because several other responses are referenced. I'm just too lazy to edit this)--

I believe Mr. Jones had the perfect reply on Oprah's shitty state... I guess I feel the same: she's been on a terrible streak of meanness these past several months. The Frey Affair is the most recent -- and obviously most horrendous -- manifestation of that evil nature of late. I only saw the last ten minutes of the Plummer/McMillan episode, but it was more than enough for me to see Oprah has a problem with gay/MSM men of color. Does it have anything to do with Stedman? I won't go there. I do know she's smelling her shit and wrongly recognizes the scent of Chanel No. 5.

The LKL phone call was her feeble attempt to control the budding outrage caused by the relevations of The Smoking Gun. I actually think had she not called in, the scandal wouldn't have been so big and at the very least, not really involved her and the show as co-conspirators. As much power as she has in the eyes (and wallets!) of the TV watching public, she should have known better than to take anyone's word on their book.

One of the many reasons she briefly stopped her book club was because of all the pressure of her choices and because publishers were trying anything to get her to choose their book. Why do you think she's chosen so many "classic" books since her return? Couple that with credible proof that she was informed of Frey's deception and again, she is just as guilty as Frey and the publisher. In all honesty, I think Frey is the least at fault. Yes, I know that doesn't sound congruous with my above statements. He did turn in the manuscript with an eye towards publishing it as fiction -- if some circles are to be believed. And the publsher definitely knew that there were wild exaggerations and total fiction in his "memoir." Sometimes a single Senior Editor can almost green-light a manuscript. Rarely, however, will a book pass muster without the eagle-eyed scrutiny of fact-checkers and Managing Editors, no matter how powerful, nor respected the editor. That includes Talese, IMHO.

I expect Oprah's next several picks to be other "classic" books (ie. the current selection of Wiesel's "The Night," a book written in the 60s and vetted by a tremendous amount of documented history -- written, oral and even videotaped. Those Nazi bastards were egoists at heart).

Unfortunately, the public has a short attention span and Oprah will
escape without a scratch. I don't want her hurt, just to come back to
reality. Yes Oprah, you're shit does stink.

Posted by ronn at January 30, 2006 03:28 PM