There are now three possible conclusions on how James Frey's lies in "A Million Little Pieces" got past Oprah (the first two are from this post, the third is Oprah's creation yesterday):
- Number 1 -- She runs an operation that's so intimidating that people within her company who knew better felt they couldn't speak out.
- Number 2 -- She knew about Frey's Lies and has been an active though conceivably unwitting (words added today--Ed.) participant in a monumental literary hoax.
- Number 3 -- (The one used by Oprah -- see Update 3 at this post and this New York Times article from earlier today) Despite the fact that her producers knew and informed her that counselors at Hazelden in Minnesota cast significant doubt on Frey's story of his time there a full month before his first Oprah TV appearance, Oprah went ahead because Frey's publisher "reassured" her that the book was accurate.
Sorry, Oprah, that tune is not playing here. I'm still picking Door Number 2.
You are an author yourself, including an autobiography. You know first-hand how little checking is done on nonfiction books. By professing that, like the gentleman in Casablanca who was "shocked" to find gambling in his establishment, you are "shocked" that the publisher didn't check for anything beyond what might be libelous, you are pretending to have a level of ignorance that you simply don't (or shouldn't) have.
As far as I'm concerned, you're not skating away from this by throwing James Frey under the bus (deserved) and blaming the publisher for not following up (not deserved). Following up was at least as much your job as it was the publisher's.
You had the red-flag warnings from the people at Hazelden and copped out. Shame on you. Your apologies are hopelessly incomplete until you say "I/we should have checked his stories out ourselves when we got the warnings."
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.