27oprah5831 I'm not sure what I was looking for when I took the TV dial for a spin yesterday afternoon, but I knew I had arrived when I saw a Oprah Winfrey roasting a pot-bellied pig on a spit.

Her guest - squirming in his chair, his voice rising from whine to squeak - was James Frey, the author whose memoir "A Million Little Pieces," turns out to have gotten more than a few of those pieces wrong. Or have been tweaked a little too much. Or made up out of whole cloth.

And Oprah, who had stood by the man, after handing Frey fame and fortune by picking "Pieces" for her book club, wasn't stopping until he was crispy.

Here's how Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post handled it this morning:

Oprah Winfrey, embarrassed by her defense of a memoir after it was exposed as partially fabricated, apologized yesterday and then lectured the sheepish-looking author and his publisher in an emotional hour of televised penance.

Two weeks after standing by James Frey's falsified tale of crime and drugs, the talk-show queen reversed herself following a spate of newspaper editorials and columns assailing her credibility.

Chicago Tribune blogger Steve Johnson called the broadcast "galvanizing" and reminded why Winfrey remains on top:

She retains, despite her wealth, fame and the insularity they bring, a strong moral compass and great instincts. One of the greatest of those is the ability to say, simply, "I was wrong."

"TKO" ruled a LiveJournal blogger named Tree Woman:

Tiffani called to tell me to turn Oprah on. Whoo-wee! was she ever mad! (Oprah, not Tiffani.) I've never seen her so angry in my life. She was glowering the entire show.

Gawker was moved enough to liveblog the event. It tells you what you need to know:

Oprah opens the show by saying she’s sorry; she also apologizes for calling Larry King to defend Frey. And then the kicker: Oprah says to Frey, "You betrayed millions of readers." Remember how we said Oprah had totally saved Frey’s ass? Yeah, not anymore.

After commerical, Frey appears. Of the Smoking Gun report that broke this story, Frey says they "did a good job." He admits to Oprah that he lied to her about jail. "I made a mistake," he says.

Oprah’s not satisfied and keeps pushing. Frey admits that Lilly didn’t hang herself; claims that in reality she cut her wrist. "Why did you have to lie about that?" responds Oprah.

But I'm still confused how people are dragging President Bush in this.

Posted 01/27/2006 09:43:15 AM

I'm really curious as to what happened behind the scenes to get him to confess, in general and to Oprah in specific. Oprah must have a heck of a lot of clout.

Posted 01/27/2006 10:22:22 AM

It seems pretty obvious after this that she'll never get Franzen-ed again. Maybe that's the reason behind the canon and why lit profs stick to the classics - there's no way the author can humiliate you personally!

Peter Mucha
Posted 01/27/2006 11:23:36 AM

I can see it all now: Frey gets depressed. Starts using drugs again. His life totally falls apart -- until he's got enough new stuff for another "memoir"!

That Dude
Posted 01/27/2006 11:30:18 AM

"She retains, despite her wealth, fame and the insularity they bring, a strong moral compass and great instincts. One of the greatest of those is the ability to say, simply, "I was wrong." " That statment is just BS. She didn't say "I was wrong" until the media winds turned against her. She backed up the "essence" of it the day this hit on Larry King. Once this tool became a liability to her she threw him tot he wolves.

Posted 01/27/2006 03:47:49 PM

yet i wonder how many more books were sold today. was there a reason she didn't rescind the book from her book club?

Posted 01/29/2006 08:12:00 AM

Please, Daniel. Isn't it obvious that Oprah is a huge part of the problem, not some kind of heroine? Oprah's people intuitively liked the book it was bullshit- a real story of addiction would have been too dry and not enough about Frey's dry drunk personality. The problem with Oprah (and others of her ilk) is that she bases so much on personalities, and then is shocked, shocked, when these frail individuals turn out to be damaged. She should be ashamed of herself and should be more willing to take her own dose of responsibility. I think Frey made a huge mistake, but after reading his book (which was obviously a fiction to anyone who has been in recovery) I am more angry at Oprah for operating a freak show circus that does incredible harm.

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