Oprah says she was duped

  • Medill News Service
  • January 27, 2006 @ 11:53 AM
Saying she had been embarrassed by the controversy surrounding a book she had recently defended, talk show host Oprah Winfrey invited the author, James Frey, back to her studio on Thursday to explain himself to her television audience.

A firestorm erupted earlier this month when the Web site "The Smoking Gun" accused Frey of embellishing and fabricating parts of his best-selling book "A Million Little Pieces." Oprah had chosen Frey's book -- which had been marketed as a memoir -- for her wildly popular monthly book club.

"I feel duped," Winfrey said during a live episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which originates in Chicago. "But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers."

Her confrontation of Frey comes two weeks after she called another TV show, "Larry King Live," to defend Frey after the Web site allegations surfaced. She asked him Thursday if he agreed with her feeling that he had conned those who bought his book.

"I don't feel like I conned you guys," Frey replied.

"A Million Little Pieces" claims to recount Frey's turbulent path from alcoholism and drug addiction to sobriety.

Frey explained that the embellishments were part of a coping mechanism he had developed to overcome his addictions.

"To get through the experience of the addiction, I thought of myself as being tougher than I was and badder than I was," Frey told Oprah. "It helped me cope."

That's a reasonable explanation for Frey's behavior, according to Dr. Daniel Angres, director of Rush Behavioral Health, a chemical dependancy and mental health treatment program at Rush University Medical Center.

However, Frey's lack of enthusiasm for more traditional 12-step recovery programs may help explain his use of deception as a coping mechanism.

According to Angres, honesty is the centerpoint of addiction recovery.

"It's a measure of the quality and depth of their recovery in terms of their ability to be honest," Angres said.