NY Times: Oprah Calls Defense of Author ‘a Mistake’. In an extraordinary reversal of her strident and angry defense of the author whose book she catapulted to the top of the best-seller list, Oprah Winfrey said today she believed that the author James Frey “betrayed millions of people” by making up elements of his life in his best-selling memoir, “A Million Little Pieces.” She added that she believed “I made a mistake” when she said that the truth of the book mattered less then its story of redemption.
This is admirable. Winfrey understands several things that so many other people do not:
First, what Frey did is simply dishonest. Any other way of characterizing his deceit is itself dishonest. He shames his craft, and himself, but continuing to claim that what he meant — in a book called a supposedly true “memoir” — is more important than facts.
Second, Winfrey shows the power of admitting a mistake. We all make them. But when we we recognize and own up to our errors, we boost our credibility.
UPDATE: Salon has video excerpts from the show, including this one in which Frey’s publisher defends the sleazy tricks. Truth versus money, and money wins. Sheesh.