You don’t tug on Superman’s cape,
you don’t spit into the wind.
You don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger,
and you don’t mess around with…Oprah, da do da do…
Ok, I admit that’s not how the song really goes. But if you happened to catch the Oprah Winfrey show on Thursday (I did not, mind you) and saw “A Million Little Pieces”author James Frey face an angry Oprah and a studio audience consisting of mostly p.o.’ed post-menopausal women, you may have caught yourself singing it this way.
It turns out that Oprah has had second thoughts since calling in on the Larry King Live Show and defending Mr. Frey’s million little lies as “essential truth” which “resonated” with her and stating for the record that the flap over Mr. Frey’s fabrications was “much ado about nothing.” I’m sure Oprah has searched her soul over those comments, and the 5-1 contra Frey emails and phone calls probably helped that process along a little.
After confessing her lack of judgement in making that phone call and in being “duped” by Mr. Frey’s phony confessions, Oprah, bolstered by her booing, catcalling fans, proceeded to publicly excoriate (some would say emasculate) Frey for his sins. Frey, for the most part, sat there and took it like a man. He eventually admitted that he had lied to Winfrey and her legions of fans and promised not to do it again.
Oprah also took a few shots at Frey’s publisher and was helped along by a few sanctimonious, pontificating guests from the publishing world who curried a little favor by congratulating Oprah for coming clean then proceeded to weigh in heavily on “why such things as this should never happen.”
The New York Times has a good piece on what happened on yesterday’s show if, like me, you happened to miss it.
So, with the entire country “teetering on the edge of falsehood,” Oprah has once again saved the day. As for Frey, he’s learning a hard lesson about living life in the eye of the American public–lie to them (or to a power-broker billionaress) and get caught and there’ll be a million pieces of hell to pay.
But if he hangs in there, he may also discover another interesting fact about public life in America–say you’re sorry (and say it over and over and over) and eventually there may be redemption–the proverbial second chance–at the end of the guantlet.
With everybody now piling one, look for signs of public sympathy shifting his way. If Mr. Frey is a sharp cookie (and fibs notwithstanding, I’d bet he probably is), then there may be another book deal in here somewhere. He probably doesn’t need my help, but, what the heck, here goes:
- “A Million Little, Medium and Large Lies–My Life as a Chronic Fabricator and How I Overcame”
- “How I Faced A Mob of a Million Angry Women and Survived”
Look for one of these in the best-seller section of a bookstore near you soon. But don’t count on it being featured in Oprah’s Book Club.
You laugh, but it could happen. As Yakov Smirnoff says, “America: What a country!”