Thursday, January 26, 2006


Oprah staged an amazingly complete reversal of her mealy-mouthed support of serial exaggerator/fabricator James Frey today on her show, going so far as to stage a parade of her own critics, from Richard Cohen to Maureen Dowd.

Some attribute this to cynicism -- she did it to put this behind her -- and others to ego -- she did it because he defiled the Church of Oprah. These suppositions have some truth to them, but none of them fully explains what happened.

Anytime someone like Oprah (0kay, there is no one like Oprah) gets into a mess like this, there is no way to separate the public drama from whatever private motivations may have shaped it. Her statement was clear and that's what counts. One of our most revered media figures was on record saying its okay to lie - giving the stamp of approval to a media already saturated with spin and other forms of deception. Now that's cynical. And in the therapeutic culture she champions, she is once again a champion of self-examination and public-truth-telling, not an enabler. All is right again in the Oprah universe, and in the places it overlaps with ours.

The fact that she recognized this would be great TV and played it for all that it was worth, well, why not? If only our politicians could move so sure-footedly.