Why are people so eager to forgive Oprah Winfrey's hypocrisy?
I know this story is totally old now, but hey, Entertainment Weekly only got around to weighing in on it last week, which was what got the issue stewing in my mind.
The consensus seems to be that Winfrey should be applauded for pummeling James Frey, the author of the partially fabricated memoir A Million Little Pieces, to a pulp on live TV. Good for her that she finally decided to stand up for herself and call him on being the liar that he is.
But seriously, what's up with her defense of him merely weeks before? That was the time to get mad at Frey. The secret was out: He was a liar and everyone finally knew it. That was the time to feel betrayed and get outraged, yet that was the moment when Oprah stood by him. Why did it take two weeks for Oprah to decide that lying is bad?
Because Oprah's first reaction was to cover her ass. She underestimated the public's wrath, figuring that if she defended the book's sentiment as essentially true, that the whole scandal would blow over and her book club would emerge unsullied. But this was a stupid miscalculation. Her book club would have been fine if she had immediately condemned Frey along with everyone else. No one could blame her for being taken in along with the millions of other readers.
But her decision to support Frey only makes her later turnabout and smackdown completely disingenuous. Clearly, the ensuing two weeks, and the public's confused, skeptical reaction to Winfrey's flimsy Frey defense showed her that the scandal wouldn't blow over. Oh shit, she realized, this is a big deal after all. People do care that he lied in his book. Who knew?
The solution? Take it all back and crush the man responsible in a disproportionately cruel manner designed to compensate for her ill-advised defense and settle once and for all her positioning on the right side of the moral fence.
Her change of heart is so transparently self-serving, I can't believe more people aren't upset with her. Everyone is saying "Good for Oprah," when they should be calling her on her willingness to sell out her principles for the sake of her reputation and success, just like James Frey.