Look, I admire the grand dame that is Oprah Winfrey as much as the next person. But back in 2006 when she humiliated writer James Frey for falsifying details in his “memoir” A Million Little Pieces, I was pretty annoyed with her. If you’ve forgotten what happened, here’s a good summary.)
The day that the infamous interview aired, everyone in the Penguin editorial offices where I worked crowded around televisions to watch the show. Seeing as how book publishing’s a VERY small world, it quickly got around town that Winfrey and/or her producers had in fact misled Frey and his publisher Nan Talese about the topic of the show. Neither of them had any idea that Oprah was going to attack them, particularly because she had defended him on Larry King’s CNN program just days before.
It’s not that Frey was totally in the right. My frustration is that when the fans of O’s bookclub didn’t go along with the idea that Frey’s inaccuracies were simply the result of an author’s literary license (the very defense that O touted on Larry King), she threw Frey under the bus to cover her own ass.
This is supremely uncool.
So I was very happy to hear that after “meditating,” Oprah has privately apologized to Frey for her behavior. I just wish her apology was as public as her initial attack.