NEW YORK (AP) — In a stunning switch from dismissive to disgusted, Oprah Winfrey took on one of her chosen authors, James Frey, accusing him on live television of lying about ”A Million Little Pieces” and letting down the many fans of his memoir of addiction and recovery.
”I feel duped,” she said Thursday on her syndicated talk show. ”But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers.”
Frey, who found himself booed in the same Chicago studio where he had been embraced not long ago, acknowledged that he had lied.
A sometimes angry, sometimes tearful Winfrey asked Frey why he ”felt the need to lie.” Audience members often groaned and gasped at Frey’s halting, stuttered admissions that certain facts and characters had been ”altered” but that the essence of his memoir was real.
”I don’t think it is a novel,” Frey said of his book, which had initially been offered to publishers, and rejected by many, as fiction. ”I still think it’s a memoir.”
Thursday’s broadcast, rare proof that the fact checking of a book can make for great tabloid TV, marked an abrupt reversal from the cozy chat two weeks ago on ”Larry King Live,” when Winfrey phoned in to support Frey and label alleged fabrications as ”much ado about nothing.”
”I left the impression that the truth does not matter,” Winfrey said Thursday of last week’s call, saying that ”e-mail after e-mail” from supporters of the book had cast a ”cloud” over her judgment.