Oprah: Was Being Lied to the Worst Crime?

Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Bali and Bangkok are all between 700 and 1000 air miles from Brunei, making it a great jump off point for traveling in the region. Brunei’s flag carrier is Royal Brunei Airlines or RBA as the locals call it. If you have the opportunity to fly RBA, take it. I found the service to be as good as that of Singapore, whom many consider to have the best cabin service amongst the major global carriers. As with most air carriers of Islamic nations, RBA has video monitors throughout the cabins depicting the geographic location of Mecca and the real time position of your aircraft relative to Mecca, thus allowing the faithful to always know the direction in which their most holiest of cities lies. When inbound, the in cabin service announcements prior to arrival also includes one which states that the penalty for drug possession/use in Brunei is death, so if you are thinking of visiting, leave the spliffs at home. In reality, Brunei does not use the death penalty, as the last execution in Brunei was 1957, and was associated with the uprisings in the region.

So there I was. I had successfully negotiated a joint venture with a European company doing business in Brunei. I had a widening circle of friends and I had traveled to Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines on business calls, with some side trips for sightseeing. I had also, with some luck, side-stepped a potentially sticky situation in Manila. The Philippine President at the time was Joseph “ERAP” Estrada, a former movie actor and film producer, known as the Ronald Reagan of the Philippines. In my experience, it is the rare Filipino that does not have a nick name. Erap is pare backwards, which means dude or buddy in Englog, which is English upon which Tagalog, a Filipino dialect, is infused. Anyways, I had presented a business proposal to President Estrada through his nephew, who ran a Philippines remittance bank. Before my deal could be consummated, ERAP found himself impeached and behind bars on corruption charges. He recently Best Lawyers Near Me    received a sentence of life imprisonment for plunder. No more Malacañang Palace or Forbes Park for him. Such is life in the Philippines, and such is karma.

It was, in some ways, reminiscent of a brief venture a business partner and I had in Russia shortly after the planned fall of Gorbachev a
I have not read James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces”. Don’t know if I will, particularly after hearing of the dental experience. But as an author, business women and publisher, I was interested in the Oprah show that served to re-air this story again.

Let’s break it down; we were lied to by an addict trying to sell a book in an overcrowded and unappreciated market. Plus, we are surprised? Then, this guy gets another appearance on Oprah as well as hours and pages of free media about the lie. Are we still wondering why people lie?

To hear it told, his story was good and sensational. Isn’t that how James and the book ended up on the Oprah show to begin with? It was a great story, told well. As an author, Mr. Frey has the ability and right to take artistic license. As an (ex) addict, he is going to do whatever he feels he needs to, regardless of the sadness or embarrassment it causes anybody, including Oprah.

His second appearance on Oprah seemed to be void of any remorse or desire to reconcile his actions, consistent with his (and any other addict’s) attention-getting ways and ingrained behavior.

Oprah did well to pull some of the right people together for the show to make a statement. But shame on anybody who thinks the best TV is honest TV. We are lied to in this country from the top down, all in a desire to cut through the media flurry to develop exaggerated, edited, and engaging TV.

The President of the USA has lied. Major companies have lied. Celebrities have lied. Reporters have lied. Even with as many channels of programming we now enjoy, the stories told have not improved. We are deluged with shows about deception, shows which actually stage “real” outlandish behavior (eating bull’s balls) and reward it (one million dollars).

I do say shame on Random House; the big guy (again) that never thought it would get caught (again) pushing one product and idea through very hard (again). Can anyone tell me that there are not a dozen unpaid interns that could have, should have, done some vetting or fact checking? Can you tell me that Random House doesn’t have a crack legal team with dozens of lawyers on staff to review the book for truthiness a la Stephen Colbert?

Instead, Random House took a calculated risk and made a huge public relations mistake, and got a tremendous amount of free media because they lied. Any pending lawsuits will continue to keep the book and the story on the front pages. So, in their own way, Random House was able to cut through the 537 new books that are released each day, and for two and one half years (and counting) keep their one little piece front and center. Is it a lie or is it great marketing?

Oprah chose the book for a reason. She, as well as Random House, and a plethora of attorneys, had their chance to review what was being presented. But everyone got lazy, dropped the ball, pushed the hot topic through and forgot to consider how much truth and honest recollection they were going to get from a drug addict and alcoholic trying to sell a book. In bringing James on again, Oprah got another dose of ratings, internet buzz and repeat TV playing of her sadness. Brilliant TV marketing, getting attention for your mistakes and lies.

Perhaps the next show Oprah does should be on marketing, or the media, or how lies start at the top. Better yet, how about what to expect from a recovering addict?

Margaret E.J. Broderick has a really true story (AKA non fiction) that has been through three editorial reviews and two legal vettings by her small independent publisher, Passion Power Press, Inc., which has no legal expertise on staff but was still able to get the facts reviewed. She has included the author notes at the beginning.

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