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Yvonne Writes a Letter to Oprah

In response to the Oprah vs. A Million Little Pieces controversy (with acknowledgment to Saturday's Washington Post editorial]:

Dear Oprah:

I'm nobody. Just a blogger, a writer and a supporter of women's issues - oh, and a publisher in my spare time. I expect you're one who would be quick to point out that 'nobody' is a relative term, and everybody is somebody.

But, in context of the furor over the Million Little Pieces book...I'm a very small voice in a very large auditorium. A nobody. Still, I have something to say.

I was so disappointed when you first said the lies James Frey told in his book, a book you so heartily endorsed, were nothing - no, excuse me, "Much ado about nothing." My disappointment wasn't for James Frey, or for his readers (no, I haven't bought the book, and probably wouldn't have regardless of your endorsement - we have enough depressing commentary in the news, I don't have to pay $$ to get more), it was for my admiration of you, which dimmed that day.

The Oprah Winfrey I've watched and felt close to for 20 years, almost a lifetime, would not have so blithely dismissed this insult to writers and readers everywhere. I could not believe you would think it okay to mislead readers with outright lies - lies designed to pad Mr. Frey's bank account and get him on your show. It was utterly beyond my belief that you thought this okay because, well...the story was a good one. The 'story' wasn't even a story! It was a fantasy perpetrated by a scam artist. The 'story' was bad prose (bad by virtue of it's masquerading as truth) written for - James Frey only knows what, because I don't.

The Oprah Winfrey I hold close to my heart as representative of the good things - of truth, justice, and the American way, would not have shrugged her shoulders and defended any writer's right to mislead readers - which is what happened with Mr. Frey. For two weeks I mulled this over in my heart, loathe to believe you truly felt it okay to continue supporting a writer that smeared the very tenets the rest of us stand on.

Now, after hearing about your show on Friday (a show I would dearly have loved to see, but was not able to tune in for though a number of good friends told me about it), I'm jubilant. THAT's the Oprah Winfrey I know and love! Of course you admire good writing! Of course you embrace the freedom of writers to write honestly and openly! And, of course, you expose lies when you discover them!

Thank you, Oprah. Thank you for clarifying the truth. Because in the end, isn't that what it's all about - truth, justice and the American way? Truth: admitting when you're wrong, and owning up to your mistakes (like bloggers do). Justice: remembering that in America, we're all created equal, women and men alike, and we protect children above all else [books like Frey's only teach children how easy it is to sell-out]. The American way: something that is rapidly disappearing - that quality of togetherness, respect, charity, understanding, and hope that our ancestors brought to this country and lay as a foundation for all future generations to build a strong tomorrow on.

I believe that writing and reading are two strong cornerstones of that foundation. That's why I object to Mr. Frey's distorting the writing process - allowing his lies, disguised as storytelling, to smear a profession that stands as the first, best defense against - lies told for the liar's sake.

Now, now that you've done the 'right' thing, as your public expects - but, more so, as your inner Shopping_onlinebeing requires - the world is set to rights. I hope all bloggers and writers and reporters take a lesson from you. Being deceived is not the issue - finding out you were deceived and NOT standing up to admit it, to call the deceiver to accounts, is the issue.

Of course, this is all just MHO. As a nobody in the blogosphere, I doubt you will ever see my note, or have time to read it. But, it feels good to write it. Honestly.

Yvonne DiVita


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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Excellent letter. You speak for a lot of us (even us male Oprah viewers). I recently posted "In Defence of Oprah", which was really a defence of my own loyal viewing. The guys won't let me live it down.

At any rate, thanks for giving voice to what many of us were thinking.


Sybil Smith-Gray

It really is true that you can't please all the people all of the time. I and am part of a very miniscule group that is profoundly disappointed with the way Oprah handled this entire mess, particularly her video hanging of Frey. Oprah missed an opportunity to hold James Frey accountable while simultaneously extending him her mercy and educating all the folks who slavishly follow her about the circumstances that culminated in this disaster. Although we'd like to believe that it starts and ends with Frey's lies, that is simply not so. I'm not sure if you'll allow me to leave my own blog address so that I can share an alternative viewpoint, but I'm going to add it here anyway.

Sybil Smith-Gray


Good for you!

I asked the members of the Writers Blog Alliance about this issue as well, and I agree with your position.

I don't know why, but Blogger has locked me out of my old blog. It still accepts comments, but I can't get it to publish anything new, or make any changes to the template. I even attempted to use FTP to upload it to my domain, but that also failed.

I struggled with it for days, writing letters to Blogger Help and Support, all for naught, so I’m starting over at: Enter the Laughter Redeux

Trying to notify all of my previous links. Trying not to think evil thoughts - LOL

Would greatly appreciate an update for my link here - thanks!

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