The New York Times: “In a live broadcast of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ from her studios in Chicago in which she interviewed Mr. Frey, Ms. Winfrey apologized to her audience for her call to ‘Larry King Live’ earlier this month defending the author. Today, Ms. Winfrey, alternately fighting back tears and displaying vivid anger, berated Mr. Frey for duping her and her audience.”
I’m really in no position to judge until I’ve actually seen the broadcast, but the immediate thing that comes to mind here is Jim Bakker, who cried on camera and confessed that he had sinned only after his debauchery had been exposed beyond a shadow of a doubt. Perhaps I’d have more sympathy for Oprah, had she had the courage to call Frey out during Frey’s Larry King Live appearance. But career opportunism is a tricky thing. So I can understand why Oprah played the status quo.
Maybe I’m naturally skeptical about television figures. But the sense I’m getting here is that Oprah assembled her top people into an expensive hotel conference room with a slide projector and a Powerpoint presentation and, over twelve hours, hashed out the pros and cons of all possible responses — in the end settling for the same “tears while the camera’s rolling” approach that worked so well for Nixon.
If I had to make any predictions here, I’d say that Oprah will stray away from any “gritty” titles for future Oprah Book Club offerings, opting for safer titles in which the events themselves aren’t so subject to questioning. Which is a pity, because of all people, Oprah’s audience needs to be exposed to these stories the most.
[UPDATE: Gawker liveblogs Oprah.]
© 2006, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.