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Oprah Turns on James Frey



First, Katie Couric caves under the withering heat of my commentary, and now Oprah Winfrey has backtracked on her initial defense of A Million Little Pieces author James Frey, asking him during a live broadcast of her show today to tell why "he felt the need to lie."

“It is difficult for me to talk to you because I really feel duped ... but more importantly I feel that you betrayed millions of readers,” Winfrey said to Frey and as quoted in an Associated Press story today.

Oprah's confrontation aired live in some markets, but Tampa Bay area viewers won't see it until 4 p.m. today, when Oprah airs on WFLA-Ch. 8.

Despite the fact that Pieces has been a best-seller for many months, no prominent journalists checked the book against public records until revealed Jan. 8 that Frey's stories about his drug-fueled criminal career were not supported by any official police reports or court documents.

Winfrey called into a damage-control appearance the author made on softball interview show Larry King Live to defend him, calling the controversy "much do about nothing" and touting the "essential truth" of his book.

None of that forgiving attitude was evident today, as Winfrey admitted regret for making the call and "leaving the impression the truth is not important." Which is, astute readers will note, the point I made four days ago in Sunday's newspaper.

What I love most -- beyond the fact that she got Frey to admit, finally, that he did lie in the book -- is that Oprah has once again figured out how to wrap doing the moral thing tightly inside doing something to help her media empire.

Because she admitted her mistake and confronted Frey on HER show, ensuring SHE would get the ratings and newscasts would endlessly play clips of HER show, instead of Larry King.

Hey, at least she's admitting a mistake, That's more than our president will do.

Public Access Under Attack in Hillsborough

The long-suffering folks who offer public access TV services in Hillsborough County are under seige again, this time from Bright House Networks, which doesn't want to fork out the thousands of dollars it takes to maintain the county's public access TV channels.

Yeah, I know you don't watch them, even if you live in Hillsborough. I don't watch the ones in Pinellas, either.

But cable companies get the government to use eminent domain to secure rights to string their cable throughout communities, so I think they should give something back. Providing the public with one or two channels and some chintzy studios to make bargan basement shows seems a small price to pay for the fiber optic lines which make their business possible.

Of course, with the increasingly erratic Hillsborough County commissioners more focused on denying gay people rights and building athletic facilities no one needs, they may go along with Bright House just to keep their flacks from calling the office too often.

Supporters are asking fans to show up for the next BOCC meeting, Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. at the 2nd floor of County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:35pm]


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