Here’s to Oprah Winfrey for devoting yesterday’s show to accepting blame for the James Frey/"A million little pieces" debacle.
Oprah, whose endorsement of Frey’s book sent its sales into the stratosphere, took the fabricating author to task for his egregious lies, chastised his publisher for not doing any fact checking, and, critically, apologized to her fans for initially recommending the book and, later, justifying Frey’s lies when she phoned in to the Larry King Show a few weeks back.
How refreshing it is to see a "leader" actually hold herself accountable for her actions. While I’ve never, ever been a fan of Oprah’s, I really admire what she did yesterday. Compare that with the waffling and outright avoidance we see from leaders in such areas as:
– government (the Hurricane Katrina cover-up being only the most recent example)
– business (a la Messrs. Lay and Skilling, who go on trial next week)
– the Catholic Church (which continues to avoid addressing the root causes of its pedophilia plague)
– sports (where the likes of Ron Artest, T.O. and the Minnesota Vikings sex cruise perpetrators do as they please with no repurcussions, etc.).
So, hats off to Oprah and her gutsy move to hold herself and those around her accountable. If only we had a few more people like her in positions of power and authority.
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I think Oprah handled herself really well in the aftermath of her Larry King phone call and furthur exploration of James Frey’s “lies.” However, she didn’t have to pick up the phone so quickly and make that call to CNN. Had she thought about it overnight and thought out a public statement, she might have prevented her public embarassment to begin with.
While I certainly believe that honor should be upheld regardless of the seriousness of the affront to it, I can’t help thinking that it’s a lot easier to own up to the responsibility in wrongly supporting a liar than your other examples (the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, the biggest corporate accountability scandal in modern times, sex crimes against women and children, etc.).
But certainly we can say that Oprah has more integrity than most of her peers (sidelong look at Martha Stewart).