Oprah played it cool at first: she invited James Frey to come back on her show to discuss the scandal. But when he got there, it was no lovefest: Oprah gave Frey a much-deserved public humiliation, telling him he embarrassed her and that he had
deceived millions of readers.
Oprah: James Frey is here and I have to say it is difficult for me to talk to you because I feel really duped. But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers. I think it's such a gift to have millions of people to read your work and that bothers me greatly. So now, as I sit here today I don't know what is true and I don't know what isn't. So first of all, I wanted to start with The Smoking Gun report titled, "The Man Who Conned Oprah" and I want to know—were they right?
James: I think most of what they wrote was pretty accurate. Absolutely.
James: I think they did a good job detailing some of the discrepancies between some of the actual facts of the events…
Oprah: What [The Smoking Gun] said was that you lied about the length of time that you spent in jail. How long were you in jail?
James: [The Smoking Gun was] right about that. I was in [jail] for a few hours.
Oprah: Not 87 days?
But Frey wasn't the only one in the hot seat. Oprah let publisher Nan Talese have it for not investigating Frey's claims that his book was nonfiction.
Oprah: We asked if you, your company, stood behind James's book as a work of non-fiction at the time. And they said, absolutely. And they were also asked if their legal department had checked out the book. And they said yes. So in a press release sent out for the book in 2004, by your company, the book was described as "brutally honest and an altering look at addiction." So how can you say that if you haven't checked it to be sure?
Nan: You know, Oprah, I mean, I think this whole experience is very sad. It's very sad for you. It's very sad for us.
Oprah: It's not sad for me. It's embarrassing and disappointing for me.
Snap! Oprah has laid down the gauntlet to authors and publishers who would deceive her: do so and risk a full-on public shaming session.