1.27.2006

Oprah, Truth, Politics, and Bullshit

I mentioned before that I have a pretty good bullshit detector. So a couple of months ago when my friend was raving about A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, I told her it sounded like bullshit to me. I was dismissed, as usual, for being the negative, jaded, cynical Jerry everyone loves and hates. So when it was revealed that most of A Million Little Pieces is, in fact, bullshit, I got some satisfaction.

The reason A Million Little Pieces got so much attention initially is because of Oprah Winfrey. Oprah raved about the book, made it her book-of-the-month, and interviewed James Frey, becoming his biggest celebrity endorser. When it became apparent James Frey was full of shit, Oprah immediately defended him, calling the incident “much ado about nothing”.

A lot of people were upset with Oprah, including me, for defending a liar and playing down the importance of truth. But when I think about it, it is understanable. Oprah is human, and it's only human nature to want to defend something you've invested in so heavily. People do it all the time. Lord knows, I've done it. The important thing is that you take a step back, breath, and realize what the truth of the matter is. And that is waht Oprah did.

On yesterday's Oprah, she had James Frey on. She apologized to the audience for reflexively defending him and being duped and called him out for lying. She wasn't gentle either. It appeared that Frey thought he could "Aw, shucks" his way out of it and retain Oprah's good graces. Wasn't happening.

So what does this have to do with politics? Well, Frey's attempts to explain himself are know in Washinton as "spin". Another name for spin is bullshit.

Whenever there is news that makes the Bush Administration look bad, they simply re-focus attention off of that matter onto something else, usually "national security". The Administration gets caught illegally wiretapping citizens? BushCo just says, "no, it's legal" and the press accepts this as good enough. When evidence that it is indeed legal comes out, then it turns into, "we're trying to protect you from the terrorists". Oh yeah, the terrorists, forgot about them, do whatever you want, George. Like somehow you can't be for civil liberties and for fighting terrorism at the same time. Like it's simply fine that Quakers are being spied on. It's just ridiculous that our "leaders" are allowed to lie to our faces and never be held to account. In the words of David Cross: Are we a nation of six-year olds?

Maybe George needs to make an Oprah appearance. Maybe she's the one to call bullshit bullshit.
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