TRUTHINESS IN ADVERTISING - Complications Ensue
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Friday, January 27, 2006

[POLITICS] Turns out Oprah and Random House had plenty of warning that James Frey was a big fat liar. Random House swore up and down that they'd investigated. But they hadn't.

Sure, they wanted to sell books. Specifically Frey's editor had a hit. But it's a question of corporate culture. You can bet that if Proctor & Gamble had had the book, they'd've really truly investigated it, and then yanked it out of every bookstore. Or at least sent warning labels that the book should be shelved as fiction.

I'm heartsick at how little people seem to care these days when they're being lied to or secrets are being kept from them. The government apparently feels that it's safe to hide its screwups over Katrina -- to flat out refuse to reveal what happened -- or to hide photographs of Bush with Jack Abramoff -- or to hide which oil execs advised Cheney on oil policy. Then there are the lies about Saddam's involvement with Al Qaeda. But people's attitude seems to be a shrug: "all politicians are liars." Which is of course their tendency, but it is a tendency that they are willing to fight when their constituents insist on it. Jimmy Carter got elected on a platform of "I will never lie to you," and sure enough, he didn't. Wasn't a great president, but at least he told you when he screwed up.

I wonder if this is a temporary aberration, and the voters will demand that the next president, be he John McCain or John Warner, actually inform them what he's doing, and how. If you don't expect truth from your ten-year-old, you won't get it. And politicians are no better.

5 Comments:

It's not that I don't care that I've been lied to. But I am resigned to the fact that we've become a culture that rewards liars. Just ask Riley Weston or Heather Robinson.

As for Frey, well, I think readers are smart enough to know that "memoirs" are somebody's interpretation of the truth. Frey needs a good ass whoopin', no doubt, but if we take his, Errol Flynn's or anyone else's memoirs at face value as absolute fact, then we deserve to be duped.

By Blogger MaryAn Batchellor, at 11:50 AM  

I'm a little upset at the lax attitude Oprah's people took with the book in the first place. Oprah is a brand that should be protected at all levels (if she really wants it to mean anything). That said, it's a very simple matter to fact check a book like this. There is a huge difference in between spending 2hrs. in jail or 87 days.

That's what this recent episode has been about - damage control.

By Blogger Bill Cunningham, at 12:06 PM  

Yeah! I was really annoyed when Bush looked us all right in the eye and said "I did not have sex with that woman...Ms. Lewinksi!" Liar! And then that whole "it depends what the meaning of "is" is." Bush is such a jerk.

Oh.

Wait.

You know, not *every* cultural incident is a good segue to Bush bashing. :) I actually heard the gears grind on that transition. :)

By Blogger Craig Mazin, at 7:59 PM  

Frey claims in his book that he is a Bad Man who's done Bad Things. And so he is. This is just one more of them.

By Blogger Lisa Hunter, at 8:52 PM  

*sigh* here we go...

"You're right, Craig. Invading a country, killing tens of thousands of civilians, creating a terrorist insurgency, and running the army down to the point where North Korea and Iran don't believe for a second we can stop them from getting nuclear weapons, all for a lie ... that is TOTALLY on the same moral plane about lying over a blowjob."

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 10:00 AM  

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