Skip to main content
U.S. Edition


Return to Transcripts main page


Oprah Fires Back at Controversial Author

Aired January 26, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are focusing on it the whole hour. We are also taking questions. We are also going to talk to someone, an expert in -- in addiction recovery who thinks this book is not just filled with lies, but it's actually going to hurt people who may be seeking out help for very serious problems.
Larry, amazing television this afternoon, perhaps the most influential woman in the country, the man who duped her, and what amounted to his public shaming, with millions watching. For James Frey, it must have seemed like an out-of-body experience, watching yourself and your book torn apart, page by page, moment by moment. We will be talking a lot about this tonight.

Did Oprah go too far? Is James Frey still full of it? Are there more lies still to be discovered? And we will be taking your calls.

First, the moments on Oprah everyone has been talking about.



OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": I made a mistake, and I left the impression that the truth does not matter.


COOPER (voice-over): James Frey's second visit to Oprah started out tough.


WINFREY: It is difficult for me to talk to you, because I really feel duped. I feel duped.


COOPER: For the author, things went downhill from there.


WINFREY: I was really behind this book, because so many people seemed to -- to have gotten so much out of it. And I believed in the fact that so many people were. But now, I feel that you conned us all. Do you?

JAMES FREY, AUTHOR, "A MILLION LITTLE PIECES": I don't feel like I conned you guys.

WINFREY: You don't?


COOPER: At times, Oprah Winfrey poked.


WINFREY: First of all, I wanted to start with The Smoking Gun report, titled "The Man Who Conned Oprah." And I want to know, were they right?

FREY: I think most of what they wrote was pretty accurate, absolutely. I think they did a good job detailing some of the discrepancies between some of the actual facts of the events and...

WINFREY: What they said was that you lied about the length of time that you spent in jail. How long were you in jail?

FREY: I was in jail for -- they were right about that. I was in for a few hours, not -- not the time...

WINFREY: Not 87 days?

FREY: Correct.


COOPER: Oprah also prodded.


WINFREY: So, on page 420 of the book, you say -- you're saying goodbye to Lilly. First of all, was there a Lilly?

FREY: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, that's been a question for a long time before.

WINFREY: Well, the thing that doesn't make any sense to me is, if you were in jail for 87 days -- and you say on page 420 of the book -- you and Lilly are saying goodbye. And you say, I have to go to jail in Ohio. And it's only going to be for a few months, and I'm going to write you every day.

And I have to tell you, James, that, when I was reading that book and I get to the last page, and Lilly has hung herself, and you arrived, you know, the day that she hanged -- was hung, and I couldn't even believe it. I'm, like, gasping. I'm calling people, like oh, my God, this happened.


COOPER: She picked apart just about every questionable passage in Frey's fictionalized memoirs.


WINFREY: Was your description of how she died true?

FREY: She committed suicide, yes.

WINFREY: She -- she hung herself?

FREY: I mean, that -- that -- that was one of the details I altered about her.

WINFREY: OK. OK. And why?

FREY: Because, all the way through the book, I altered details about every single one of the characters to render them unidentifiable.

WINFREY: So, how did she die?

FREY: She cut her wrists.


COOPER: From the suicide to the discrepancies in his dental visit.


WINFREY: OK. So, what was true about the dentist and what wasn't? You did go to the dentist?

FREY: Absolutely.


WINFREY: OK. Went to the dentist. OK. What's true about the dentist?

FREY: I mean, I went to the dentist. I had my front four teeth repaired, as I remember it.

WINFREY: With novocaine?

FREY: I honestly have no idea.

WINFREY: Well, then why did you say you didn't have novocaine? Because, you know, the last time I went to the dentist, the dentist -- my dentist said, that could not have happened. And I said, oh, no. Oh, no, it happened. He told me it happened.

So, why -- was that to make yourself look like a big -- because, you know what? It worked, because...


COOPER: And when she was done with the author, Oprah turned her attention on his publisher. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW")

NAN TALESE, PUBLISHER: Oprah, I mean, I think this whole experience is very sad. It's very sad for you. It's very sad for us.

WINFREY: It's not sad for me. It's embarrassing...

TALESE: All right.

WINFREY: ... and disappointing for me.


WINFREY: It's embarrassing and disappointing for me.

TALESE: But I don't -- I do not know how you get inside another person's mind.


COOPER: In the end, it was devastating television. And Oprah made her point, that James Frey didn't just embellish, that he flat- out lied.


WINFREY: Why do you have to lie about that?

FREY: I have, you know, essentially admitted to...


FREY: ... what I have been -- to lying.

WINFREY: To lying.



COOPER: No hugs at the end, just Oprah thanking James Frey for spending an hour in the hot seat, and gently reminding him and her audience of a very simple notion: The truth does matter.

With us now, Bill Bastone, editor of, the Web site that first exposed Mr. Frey, and -- full disclosure here -- is partly owned by our parent company, Time Warner. Also joining us, psychologist Mic Hunter, a drug rehab specialist in the Minneapolis area, and safe to say, not a fan of Mr. Frey's book, and, of course, Larry King.

Larry, we start with you.

You had James Frey on your show. Oprah said, he's conned us all. Did Frey con you? LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Well, I don't think he conned me. He was talking to me. He conned Oprah, because she recommended his book. I didn't. She made it a selection. I didn't.

I had him as a guest. I wasn't there. I wasn't in Minnesota. I wasn't at the police station. There's no way I can verify yes or no. So, I don't think he conned me. He told me his story. We are subject to stories that are told to us. We have no investigative journalists out there looking at it.

I asked him the best questions I could. He gave the answers. Oprah responded very emotionally by calling in and -- and supporting the book. I spoke to James Frey today, by the way. And he -- he -- he sounded destroyed, Anderson.

COOPER: You talked to him after the Oprah episode?

KING: Yes. I spoke to him about 2:00 this afternoon.

COOPER: And...

KING: And he was -- he said, this was one of the worst days of his life. He -- he was really down. We asked him to come on tonight, but he didn't feel emotionally up to it.

COOPER: Larry, you have seen a lot of people going through situations like this. You -- you know, God knows you have everyone on -- on your program. Where does he go from here? He has got, I guess, a couple of books in contract. But does he have a career, you think?

KING: Well, his other book, "My Friend Leonard," is a runaway best-seller. Everyone here in the studio -- I don't know, if you do a poll there in New York -- thinks the book is going to continue to sell, which is amazing to me.

They all think that this book will continue to rise and sell, which is beyond belief to me. I have looked through it. It obviously is very well written. The man can write. If it's fiction...

COOPER: Do you think Oprah put the...

KING: He should have written it as fiction.

COOPER: Yes. Well, and he said he's going to -- that's what he's going to write from now on, nothing about himself.

Do you think Oprah today put the criticism of her to rest?

KING: I think she did a very smart thing today. She was probably -- probably, Oprah has never seen herself lambasted as she has been since her call to this show.

The past two weeks, she took it on the chin from everyone. I think she did the smart thing. I think she handled herself very well. She did a mea culpa. She -- she was lied to. She was embarrassed, and she said she made a big mistake. And then she put people on, like Frank Rich and Richard Cohen, who had openly criticized her, written about her.

I think it took -- I think it was gutsy. I think it was smart, and, in the end, probably the only thing she could do.

COOPER: Well, I think everyone agrees it was gutsy and smart. I mean, you know, there are a lot of people in the public eye. Very rarely do you actually hear them say, I was wrong. And she said that point blank today.

KING: Yes, but where does she go? If she doesn't do that and the story continues, where does she go with it?

COOPER: Right.



KING: What -- what -- what's her next move?

COOPER: Bill Bastone, does this story go away now? It seems like -- you -- you think there are other lies out there?

WILLIAM BASTONE, EDITOR, THESMOKINGGUN.COM: Yes. I mean, I think -- I think the book is filled with them. I mean, he had...


COOPER: That we don't even know about at this point.

BASTONE: No. Yes, I mean, listen, if you -- if you told me, do you want to go and investigate the rest of the book and then take a look at the second book, I think we would develop the same kind of stories.

I mean, the fact is, he had a chance today. I mean, he -- there's this woman who was supposedly his girlfriend in rehab.

COOPER: Lilly.


He had a chance today, when Oprah asked him, well, what -- where -- what was the halfway house that she committed suicide in?

COOPER: Because, on the first time he was Oprah's show, he said, oh, it -- it was very close to here.

BASTONE: Yes. He said, oh, it happened two miles from here, from the Harpo studios in Chicago. He had a chance to answer that. He didn't answer that. Nor he has a chance -- just have him tell us what her name was.

COOPER: He did reveal today -- he said, when -- when -- when cornered, basically, that she -- she didn't hang herself. It wasn't on the day he got out of prison, or jail, because we know he didn't get out of jail, because he wasn't in jail.


COOPER: And that he actually -- she actually slit her wrists. But you think that's just a fabrication?

BASTONE: No, I think -- I think that this is a situation where there was probably a woman who he saw in rehab. You know, these -- the sexes are separated at Hazelden. They don't really mix.

And in telling the story, as he put the story together, he needed some dramatic detail. So, he created -- he created a persona for himself and he created them for the other people as well.

COOPER: I want to talk details more ahead.

But, Mic, I want to bring you in.

You know all about rehab and about Hazelden. When you read the book, did -- did you just say to yourself, this -- this isn't how Hazelden works?

MIC HUNTER, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, that's exactly right.

From the very beginning, I said this guy's making this stuff up. And the problem with that is, it gives a bad name to a world-famous treatment center, and it makes it more difficult for other addicts to want to receive treatment.

COOPER: You really -- you think it actually discourages people from seeking treatment?

HUNTER: Well, millions of copies of this book are out there. And he described these horrible, torturous experiences of having, you know, dental work done without novocaine, or having his nose broken and refixed without any painkillers.

And -- and none of that happened, but if people believe that that's what treatment is, it's going to make it more difficult for family members to want to send their loved ones to treatment.

COOPER: Larry, would you still like to interview him again?

KING: Oh, yes. We invited him on today. I would like to interview him again, sure, because the story isn't over.

How he -- I would be fascinated with how he fabricated this.

Have you read the book, Anderson?

COOPER: I did. I did read the book.

KING: Yes. He's -- he's a hell of a writer.

COOPER: Yes. Well, you know, actually, I...

KING: Wouldn't you say? Wouldn't you say -- I mean...

COOPER: I actually don't think...


COOPER: I actually -- I wasn't as huge a fan of the book. I think it's a powerful book.

But -- but, frankly, knowing what I now know, thanks to and -- and stuff that came out on "Oprah" today, I wouldn't read anything the guy ever wrote again.


But supposing he had published that -- and I have a lot of respect for Nan Talese. Supposing she had published it as fiction.


KING: Wouldn't you have -- all right. Wouldn't you have said, the root canal scene is one of the best scenes of fiction you ever read?

COOPER: You know, yes, I don't understand why they didn't publish it as nonfiction.

I mean, Bill, have you...

KING: I don't either.

COOPER: And, Bill, have you gotten an answer on that at all?

BASTONE: Well, I mean, listen, I mean, he claims that he thought of it as fiction, and that -- that he -- they, the -- the publishing house, decided that it should be nonfiction.

COOPER: Which Nan Talese says is not -- is not the case.

BASTONE: She said it didn't happen.

But the fact is, is -- well, you know, passing for a moment on whether he's a good writer, the fact is, if that thing was sold as fiction, it wouldn't have sold.

COOPER: Right. Right.


BASTONE: Because there has to be a guy behind it.

COOPER: Right.

BASTONE: You need to know that these things happened to a person, and that person was James Frey.

(CROSSTALK) BASTONE: And that's the guy whose picture is on the back of the book.

COOPER: Larry?

KING: Anderson, how did he -- how did he invent that?

COOPER: Well, I mean...

KING: In other words, OK, let's say it's -- the whole thing is fiction. How did he invent that?

COOPER: Well, I mean, you know, he's a clever writer.

And -- and, certainly, you spend enough time staring at a page and good things can -- can come out of it. I just think the book would have -- I just still don't understand why they just didn't publish it as a novel...

KING: Me either.

COOPER: Publish it -- or at least saying based on truth, you know, like -- like a lot of those Hollywood movies do.

KING: I mean, Hemingway never fought a bull. He never was a matador. But he sure put you in that ring.

COOPER: Well, he sure did.

And -- and -- and he wrote novels.

Hey, Larry, thanks very much for being on the program. Appreciate you staying late.

KING: Thank you, A.C.

COOPER: We are going to be more -- back more with Bill Bastone and -- and Mic as well. We are going to be taking your calls, also, a little bit later on in the program.

In a moment, the lies that we know about, the jail, the suicide, the dental work, and the lies we don't yet know. What did Oprah know, also, and when did she know it? And the power of Oprah to make a book or perhaps break its author.

From New York and around the world, you're watching 360.


COOPER: Well, in a moment, we will have more on the Oprah taking on James Frey episode today. In particular, did James Frey lie to Oprah on her own show this afternoon?

First, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with some of the other stories we're following right now.

Hey, Erica.


A political earthquake in the Middle East today, in the form of a huge victory in the Palestinian elections for the militant group Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization. Hamas has repeatedly called for the destruction of the state of Israel and seems to have won a clear majority in the election, 76 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Forty-three seats went to the more moderate Fatah, which has long been in control.

Randy McCloy, the sole survivor of the Sago Mine disaster, is now out of the hospital and at a rehabilitation center. He would had been in the hospital since January 4, when he was pulled from the Sago Mine. He was trapped there for more than 41 hours.

And there have been other tunnels between the Mex -- between Mexico and the U.S., but, really, this one discovered by federal officials this week called the largest and most sophisticated yet. The tunnel, which ran between a warehouse in Tijuana and another on the other side of the border, in the U.S., contained three tons of marijuana stacked neatly in bails.

And, now, quickly, Anderson, name this sport. It's tuna-tossing, an annual event in Port Lincoln, Australia. This year's champion, Steve Hitch, he sent a tuna flying 17.1 meters, beating 85 other fish- flingers to win the $7,000 first prize. And lest you think this only happens down under, on the Panhandle of Florida, basically, on the state line of Florida and Alabama, by the Flora-Bama, is the annual mullet toss, coming up in April. And I have attended it -- but no strings. They just throw the wet fish.

COOPER: I don't like to brag, but I have tossed a few mullets in my day.

HILL: Oh, really? We might have to go one on one, my friend.

COOPER: Back in my college days. But that's another story for another episode.

HILL: Wild A.C., ladies and gentlemen.

COOPER: That's right. It was crazy with the mullets.

Erica, thanks.

More on Oprah's story just ahead.

First, what Oprah said on "LARRY KING LIVE" on the 11th of January, before the other shoe dropped.


WINFREY: And I feel about "A Million Little Pieces" that although some of the facts have been questioned -- and people have a right to question, because we live in a country that lets you do that -- that the underlying message of redemption in James Frey's memoir still resonates with me. And I know that it resonates with millions of other people who have read this book and will continue to read this book.

And, you know...




FREY: To be honest, I still stand by the book as -- as being the essential truth of my life. I will stand by that idea until -- until the day I die.


COOPER: We didn't hear a lot about that "essential truth" today on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Oprah kept using the word lying. He tried to use essential once or twice, but it didn't work.

This whole Oprah mess is a new twist, really, on an age-old story. Publishers have been duped before, and the public along with them.

In the age of mass media, you can do it wholesale, the Hitler diaries, for instance, or Jayson Blair. But, along with the mass media, there's also the Internet, millions of eyeballs, bloggers, fans, and professionals at sites like, they all played into the story. And we watched it play out.

Here's how.



WINFREY: It's a gut-wrenching memoir that is raw, and it's so real.

COOPER (voice-over): That's how Oprah Winfrey first described "A Million Little Pieces" in September 2005, when she picked it up for her book club. Sales went through the roof. Weeks later, James Frey told Oprah it was so real because he had a lot of documents.


WINFREY: This is what I don't get, because, when you were here before, you said that there were about 400 pages of documents. You said you kept a journal, you kept pages, that there were documents and reports of everything that you did.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Whatever records Frey really had, records discovered by, a Web site owned by Court TV, which is partly owned by CNN's parent company, Time Warner, showed that Frey had lied.

January 8, Smoking Gun posted "A Million Little Lies," an article separating fact from fiction.


BASTONE: He has been promoting the book for two-and-a-half years and basically lied continuously.


COOPER: Frey fought back, appearing January 11 on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE."


FREY: I still stand by the fact that it's my story and that it's a -- a truthful retelling of the story.


COOPER: That night, Oprah Winfrey called in and supported Frey.


WINFREY: The underlying message of redemption in James Frey's memoir still resonates with me, and I know that it resonates with millions of other people who have read this book.


COOPER: But after weeks of criticism, today, Winfrey reversed her course, quizzing Frey about the tales he told, not only in his book, but on her show.


WINFREY: Because I really feel duped. I read this book as a memoir, and, to me, a memoir means it's the truth of your life, as you know it to be, and not blatant fictionalization.


COOPER: It was riveting television. Winfrey tried to get truth from an author not known for speaking it.


WINFREY: Was your description of how she died true?

FREY: She committed suicide, yes.

WINFREY: She -- she hung herself? FREY: I mean, that -- that -- that was one of the details I altered about her.

WINFREY: OK. OK. And why?

FREY: Because, all the way through the book, I altered details about every single one of the characters to render them unidentifiable.


COOPER: Viewers learned today that The Smoking Gun's report was actually not Winfrey's first clue that Frey's tale wasn't ringing true.


WINFREY: We were contacted eight days afterwards by a former Hazelden counselor, challenging the truth of James' memoir.

And our producer told me about it. She says this woman is now saying that what James is saying in the book isn't true.

We contacted your representatives. And we were told by them that the claims that this woman was making, we were assured that there was no validity to those claims. And we asked if you, your company, stood behind James' book as a work of nonfiction at the time. And they said, absolutely. And they were also asked if their legal department had checked out the book. And they said yes.


COOPER: Winfrey sought clarification from publisher Nan Talese.


WINFREY: When did you realize that James hadn't told the truth in his memoir?

TALESE: I learned about the jail -- the two things that were in -- on Smoking Gun at the same time you did. And I was dismayed to know that. But I had not -- I mean, as an editor, do you ask someone, are you really as bad as you are?



TALESE: ... someone, or...



WINFREY: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, you do.



COOPER: After Oprah's program aired, we received a statement from the book's publishers, Doubleday and Anchor Books.

They told us -- quote -- "We have questioned him about the allegations and have, sadly, come to the realization that a number of facts have been altered and incidents embellished."

For Oprah Winfrey, you could tell the subject was very personal.


WINFREY: So, why did you do that?

FREY: I mean, once I talked to the person at the facility about it, you know, the book had been out for nine months. We had already done a lot of interviews about it. I -- since that time, I have struggled with the idea of it. And...


WINFREY: No, the lie of it. That's a lie.


WINFREY: It's not an idea, James. It's a lie.


COOPER: The truth does matter, Winfrey said again and again. And, today, for her, the truth hurt.


TALESE: Oprah, I mean, I think this whole experience is very sad. It's very sad for you. It's very sad for us.

WINFREY: It's not sad for me. It's embarrassing...

TALESE: All right.

WINFREY: ... and disappointing for me.


WINFREY: It's embarrassing.


COOPER: Well, with us now, Bill Bastone from, also psychologist and addiction specialist Mic Hunter. Also joining us on the phone, who just called in, is Alan J. Green, who actually was with James Frey in the treatment facility. He is the character Miles in the book. Mr. Green, you are with us?


COOPER: Your thoughts upon watching Oprah's -- or hearing Oprah's show today?

GREEN: First of all, I was very disappointed in the approach that was taken, as far as the accusations that were leveled at James Frey.


COOPER: Disappointed because why? You thought it was too hostile?

GREEN: I thought it was somewhat hostile. And I thought, basically, he was being raked over the coals unnecessarily.

COOPER: Let me...

GREEN: I -- really, it pained me to see what he had to endure.

COOPER: It was certainly painful, I think, for everyone, whether or not people wanted it to be or not.

Let me ask you about your portrayal in the book and what you saw of his time. There has been discrepancies in the book. He indicated -- you know, he sort of has this sort of rugged persona in the book, kind of this badass persona, and getting into fights. Did you see that when you were in the treatment facility with him?

GREEN: When I first met James, it was shortly after I had arrived at the facility. And he -- his front teeth were missing. His face looked as -- as though he had been through some type of traumatic experience. He was very disheveled.

And he was not the person that I have come to know. And if I would have met him on the street somewhere, I would have looked at him as a thug.

COOPER: And -- and the fights, the -- the -- the atmosphere that he portrays in the book, was that your experience?

GREEN: If you mean regarding certain tensions, yes. It was my experience. However, I experienced it somewhat differently than perhaps he did.

COOPER: Do you believe he was being accurate in his portrayal of the atmosphere inside there?

GREEN: I believe that he was being -- I'm sorry?

COOPER: Of his -- of his experience inside there, do you believe he was being accurate in that portrayal?

GREEN: Yes, I believe that he was being accurate as far as how he perceived it.

You have to understand, I was older than James. I come from a very different background. And I knew there were people who felt threatened within that environment. And there were certain times that I myself felt threatened.

COOPER: I want to bring in Mic Hunter, an addiction specialist familiar with -- with these clinics in that area.

Mic, you have heard what Mr. Green has to say. What do you believe about James Frey's portrayal of -- of the clinic, the -- the rehabilitation experience?

HUNTER: Well, I think, like any good con man, what he -- what he knows is that every good lie has some truth in it, and that what he does is take some tidbit of -- of truth, and then exaggerates it, because the -- otherwise, the story isn't interesting.

The story -- the true story is, he went to treatment. He was treated with respect and given good advice, which he rejected. And there's no story there. So, he had to paint a picture of himself as a -- as a criminal and as tougher than he was, so that there would be a story.

COOPER: And I want to go over the specific things.

Bill Bastone. you think he's basically a pathological liar, that -- that -- that he's just lying about just about everything?

BASTONE: I mean, I think that that's -- that's clear.

And he -- he did it in interviews with us.


BASTONE: He attempted to stop our publication by sending us a lawyer's letter that was filled with inaccuracies.

COOPER: But let's talk about specifics here.

In the book, about jail, he says: "I'm guilty of all the charges. Three years in a state prison is an eternity. It's likely I will be put in maximum security."

Here's, from "Oprah" today, what he said about jail.


FREY: ... facts of the event and...

WINFREY: What they said was that you lied about the length of time that you spent in jail. How long were you in jail?

FREY: I was in jail for -- they were right about that. I was in for a few hours, not -- not the time...

WINFREY: Not 87 days?

FREY: Correct.



COOPER: ... that's a lie. You said he wasn't even in jail.

BASTONE: No, he wasn't. He was never in jail. He was in a police headquarters in Granville, Ohio. He was not in handcuffs. And he was sitting in their conference room, waiting for a friend to come and bail him out. I don't consider that jail. Apparently, that's the best he can offer.

COOPER: And that -- and that's it?

BASTONE: That's it.

COOPER: Let's talk about the dental work.

He talks about having dental work. He says, "This is going to be" -- this is from the book. "This is going to be incredibly painful. Because you're currently a patient in a drug treatment center, we can't use any -- any anesthesia" -- this is the doctor talking -- "local or general. And, when we're done, we can't give you any painkillers."

Today, on "Oprah," this is what he had to say about that.


WINFREY: ... to the dentist. OK. What's true about the dentist?

FREY: I mean, I went to the dentist. I had my front four teeth repaired, as I remember it.

WINFREY: With novocaine?

FREY: I honestly have no idea.

WINFREY: Well, then why did you say you didn't have novocaine? Because, you know, the last time I went to the dentist, the dentist -- my dentist said, that could not have happened. And I said, oh, no. Oh, no, it happened. He told me it happened.

So, why -- was that to make yourself look like a big -- because, you know what? It worked.


COOPER: What about that? Would patients be able to have Novocaine?

HUNTER: Absolutely. That's part of the -- what I object to this. He makes treatment look like torture. I worked for four years with people who needed to have all kinds of dental and other surgical procedures and we always told them, it's not a relapse for to you get a local or even a general anesthesia under these circumstances. And some people even tried to do it without because they said, I don't want to take any drugs anymore. And we said, no, we really insist that you not undergo this painful procedure without some kind of medication.

So that was one of the things that if the publishers had sent the manuscript to any addiction counselor, they would have said this guy's just lying. Otherwise, again, is not a story if he said he went to the dentist and got four new teeth. That's not a story.

COOPER: Mic, whether one is sympathetic or not to James Frey, it was a tough thing to watch today. And God can only imagine how tough it was for him to sit there. He looked like a cornered rat, frankly. Is there a danger for him now? I mean, confronting an addict?

HUNTER: There's been a danger the whole time because one of the things that we treat -- we always teach people in treatment is that they have to stop lying and when they're wrong, promptly admit it. And he's spent years now lying and lying and lying. And if he hasn't relapsed, it's a miracle. And I'd be amazed if he remains sober under these circumstances.

COOPER: Let's hope he certainly does. I don't think anyone would wish that on him.

HUNTER: Absolutely.

COOPER: Mic, appreciate your perspective and our caller Alan J. Green, miles in the book. We appreciate you calling in. We are going to be taking your calls, the viewers calls. Bill Bastone is sticking around as well as a number of other guests. Stay with us. Just ahead, the power of Oprah. Just ask James Frey, he's seen it for better or for worse. And we're taking your calls. The toll free number is 877-648-3639. That's 877-648-3639 with your questions or comments. You're watching 360.


COOPER: Go to, look up "A Million Little Pieces" there you can still find the three magic words "Oprah's Book Club." Her endorsement can mean the world to an author, it certainly did to James Frey. And so did her absolution on LARRY KING LIVE back when the fabrication story first broke. Reporting tonight on the Oprah effect, here's CNN's Heidi Collins.


WINFREY (on phone): We support the book because we recognize that there have been thousands and hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been changed by this book.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That was Oprah Winfrey saving the bacon, the book and maybe the career of author James Frey. WINFREY (on camera): Our next book is -- "A Million Little Pieces."

COLLINS: Of course, it was Oprah who started the book's juggernaut back in September when she chose it as a selection for her book club and sent it soaring to the top of Amazon's bestseller list. It's still there at number five. There's a reason why "Forbes" magazine named the daytime diva the most powerful celebrity in the world.

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": She's able to move commerce, she's able to move the culture, and she's able to tug at American women and men's heartstrings.

COLLINS: She tugs at their heartstrings and tells them what to read. "A Million Little Pieces" is the 56th book Oprah's pitched to her public since she started the book club in 1996, making household names out of often obscure authors. In 2000 she chose "Gap Creek" by Robert Morgan. Within a month, the book sold 650,000 copies. With her stamp of approval, she makes bestselling authors out of new writers.

OGUNNAIKE: If you're a no name author and she decides that she loves your book and she puts it in her book club, you are going to be on the best sellers' list.

COLLINS: And she gives new life to old classics. Her choice of the 1875 Tolstoy novel "Anna Karenina" forced the publisher of a new translation to rush 1 million extra copies into print.

WINFREY: There ain't nothing wrong with a little bit of bling!

COLLINS: It's not just books but bling that Oprah turns into bestsellers. Every year she showers her audience with her favorite stuff, from diamond watches to iPods, from Burberry coats to laptop computers. And they all start selling like hot cakes. Something she hasn't given away yet.

OGUNNAIKE: People trust her opinion. People believe in her taste. And they know that she is not going to be BS them. If she believes in something and she likes something, she's going to go all- out for that thing or that person.

WINFREY: I know that it resonates with millions of other people who have read this book.

COLLINS: And with a few minutes on LARRY KING LIVE, Oprah turned a P.R. nightmare into a book selling bonanza. James Frey thought he'd found himself a powerful friend. Now he knows how it stings when the daytime diva feels duped.

WINFREY: I feel that you betrayed millions of readers. And I think, you know, it's such a gift to have millions of people to read your work. And that bothers me greatly.

COLLINS: Heidi Collins, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Oprah's power is undeniable. So is her anger. We saw it today and it was directed squarely at James Frey. Coming up a look at the moments that left him and us squirming in our seats.

Plus we're taking your phone calls on the show. Was Oprah right or trying to save face. Let us know what you think. Call us toll free, 877-648-3639.


COOPER: We're taking your calls. 877-648-3639. 877-648-3639. I want to know what you think. We're taking your questions. You've heard what we had to say about the Oprah Winfrey show with James Frey. We want to know what you think. Taking all those calls. Standing by the answer your questions, Bill Bastone, the editor of He broke the story. And joining us from Park City, Utah is the ethics guy, Bruce Weinstein. Good to see you, as well, Bruce.

Bruce, before we take calls, I just want to ask you what you think of Frey's admitting lies on "Oprah" today. And if you think it does, why it matters.

BRUCE WEINSTEIN, "THE ETHICS GUY": Anderson, as I said a few weeks ago on your show when we were talking about that book "All Men are Liars," remember that, all we have at the end of the day is our integrity. And


CALLER: person broke a confidence and they should be held to very high standards. The second is I think that Oprah caved to the pressure. Bill Clinton was not raked over the coals as much as this guy was about a lie.

COOPER: Bill, what do you think about that?

BASTONE: I don't know that that's exactly accurate. As far as someone at the treatment center violating some sort of rules, there's been nothing about Hazelden at all.

COOPER: In terms of Oprah stepping forward, do you think this story goes away from her perspective? It doesn't involve her anymore.

BASTONE: I think she did what she felt she need to do. It is a little overdue. But I can't imagine the name James Frey will fall from her lips ever again.

COOPER: In Arkansas on the phone, Lilly is on the phone. Lilly, thanks for calling in. What's your question? Lilly, are you there?

CALLER: Hello.

COOPER: Hey, Lilly, this is Anderson. Go ahead. What's your question?

CALLER: Yes, hi. Anderson. Thanks for put me on. I'm a big fan.

COOPER: Well, thanks.

CALLER: Mr. Bastone, is that right, from "The Smoking Gun."


CALLER: First of all, I agree that it is unfortunate that nobody spoke up sooner. I read the book, it was a compelling read. I think that anyone who has been personally affected by or is familiar with conventional treatment centers would have known immediately into the book ...

COOPER: Lilly. Let me ask a question before you ask Bill a question. Would you read another James Frey book? Lilly, would you read another book by James Frey? I think we're having problems with her phone.

Lilly, if you can hear me? Are you there? We lost her. I think that's Lilly from the actual book.

Joyce in Georgia, you've got a question. Joyce? Joyce in Georgia, are you there, Joyce?

Bueller, Bueller? Bill Bastone, what else do you think is not true or do we not know is true? I mean, you think the whole Lilly thing is flat out -- she doesn't exist.

BASTONE: No, I don't think she could existed. I think he could do things very simply to prove it. He could tell you the name. He could tell you where she supposedly cut her wrists and died, when that occurred. This is a person who's dead, has no other living family members, according to him. So what's the harm in saying it so you can put that to bed?

COOPER: We've got a caller, Beverly in North Carolina. Beverly, good evening.

CALLER: Good evening.

COOPER: Your question, your comment?

CALLER: I have a question for your guest from "The Smoking Gun." Has anybody ever contacted his parents? Because they seem to be main characters -- I actually have two questions -- main characters in the book. And also to validate his story. Also he talked at the beginning of the book about this huge gash in his face and the stitches and everything else. I don't see any scars on his face. Has anybody looked to see if there was any ...

COOPER: Bill, what about that?

BASTONE: Well, the gash, first, he changed the location of it. It had been a 40-stitch hole in his cheek, which suddenly migrated to his lower lip when he spoke to Larry King. As far as his parents go, we didn't attempt to talk to them. But you know, they would seem like a couple of good people to talk to because he puts them in a lot of events in Hazelden that clearly never occurred. And maybe someone might want to ask them whether they knew that James was putting things in a book that didn't happen.

COOPER: Bruce Weinstein, does this hurt other authors out there, I mean, who are -- might be writing a memoir? Does that make the whole genre kind of dubious?

WEINSTEIN: It not only hurts the writers of memoirs but perhaps more importantly it hurts lovers, fans of memoir, because the next memoir that anybody picks up, the obvious question to that reader will be, well, how much of this is true? And the craziest thing about this whole thing, Anderson, is that James Frey did not have to tell a single lie because his story was compelling enough. There was no reason to embellish it to make a captivating story. If he presented it as a novel, also, none of this brouhaha would have happened. So you know what? There really is a good take home message in all this. Fiction is fiction.

COOPER: I'm sorry, fiction is fiction yes. The point is -- right, and it should be labeled as such. Luba in Ohio has a question. Luba, good evening.

CALLER: I'm sorry. I don't have a question. I'd like to make a comment. The author said that there's a thin line between fact and fiction. I personally think he's being unfairly attacked because it is a compelling piece of literary work. I think the merit ...

COOPER: Would it have been as compelling if you didn't believe it was all true? If it was just some novel written by somebody that you knew was all made up, would it have had that same power?

CALLER: Possibly, because often work of fiction are based on the truth.

COOPER: It's an interesting point. Luba, I appreciate you calling in. I want to thank Bruce Weinstein for being with us, also Bill Bastone, amazing work on all this. Thank you all and to all our callers, thank you.

Just ahead, we're going take a look at the moments that left James Frey squirming in his seat. Man, were there a lot of them today. And well, we were kind of squirming along with him at times. We'll play those moments for you. The amazing drama as it played out today on Oprah Winfrey.


COOPER: We're going to be taking a look at the moments that made us squirm today. James Frey cornered basically like a wet rat on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" at some times. We'll kind of show you those moments coming up, but first Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with some of the other stories we're following tonight. Hey, Erica. HILL: Hey, Anderson. The U.S. military freed five Iraqi women prisoners today. But officials insist this has nothing to do with Jill Carroll's fate. Carroll, of course, is the American journalist kidnapped in Iraq. Her captors threatened to kill her unless all Iraqi women prisoners were released. Now there has been no word on Carroll's fate since the deadline for her execution has passed almost a week ago.

Exeter, California, after a ten-hour standoff, SWAT officers stormed a bank earlier today and seized an alleged robber who had taken hostages with what police say turned out to be a pellet gun. The officers moved in after using a pack of cigarettes to trick him into letting go of his last hostage. They left the cigarettes just outside the front door. And then when he let a hostage retrieve them that s officers moved in. Luckily no injuries were reported.

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, bad Botox doctors facing jail. Today two doctors, a husband and wife, who made more than $1.7 million selling an unapproved botulism toxin to hundreds of doctors were sentenced up to nine years in prison. Maybe you should just go with sunscreen instead.

COOPER: And you couldn't even tell they were worried.

HILL: Because of the Botox. Good call.

COOPER: Exactly. There you go. Erica, thanks very much.

One of James Frey's defenders in a moment. Also his hour in the hot seat. Painful to watch. Impossible not to. Our coverage of Frey and his lies continue on 360.


FREY: I went to treatment. And I went to drug and alcohol treatment which is what this book is all about. You know? That's what 422 of the 432 pages are about, going to drug and alcohol treatment center to deal with addiction. And, now, as I've said and as I'll continue to say, this is the true story of what I went through there.



CLAIRE ZULKEY, BLOGGER, ZULKEY.COM: I just feel really bad for James. I know a lot of people feel like they were led astray. But I'm not really sure what the point was to drag him on to "Oprah" and sort of ambush him. I understand how she feels but it seems like -- it seemed like he wasn't prepared I guess so much for the discussion and, obviously, I imagine he must be kind of dazed by the whole experience. But it just seemed like she was taking him up there to sort of make a lesson out of him, I guess.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: That was writer and blogger Claire Zulkey who interviewed Mr. Frey long before uncovered his lies. Today millions of people, myself included, watched as Oprah confronted author James Frey about the lies he passed as facts in his bestselling memoir, "A Million Little Pieces."

For the talk show queen, it was a very public about-face. Remember just a couple weeks ago after reported that Frey fabricated parts of the book, Oprah famously defended him, even calling up Larry King to do so. That all changed today. And it changed big time judging by all the squirming Frey was doing in the hot seat, he may have had no idea what hit him.


COOPER (voice-over): James Frey went on Oprah to admit his mistakes, but at times he appeared less than honest. It wasn't just the blank stares, the stutters, or the nose scratching, it was his words that did him in. In his answers, he seemed anything but direct.

WINFREY: There were two root canals?

FREY: I -- I -- I think so, yes. I mean ...

WINFREY: James that doesn't make any sense. You wrote for I think two or three pages that scene goes on. And you say there were two root canals. So I'm asking you, were there two root canals?

FREY: As far as I remember, yes. I mean ...

WINFREY: What's true about the dentist?

FREY: I went to the dentist. I had my front four teeth repaired. As I remember it.

WINFREY: With Novocaine?

FREY: I honestly have no idea.

COOPER: When he tried to explain a lie about the tragic way his love died, he couldn't seem to get the words out.

WINFREY: Let's get back to Lilly. Was your description of how she died true?

FREY: She committed suicide, yes.

WINFREY: She hung herself?

FREY: I mean -- I mean that was one of the details I altered about her. I mean ...


COOPER: It would have been so much less painful if Frey had simply said, what was real and what wasn't, something he did at least once.

WINFREY: What they said was that you lied about the length of time that you spent in jail. How long were you in jail?

FREY: I was in jail for -- they were right about that, I was in for a few hours, not the time ...

WINFREY: Not 87 days?

FREY: Correct.

COOPER: And according to Bill Bastone of, that wasn't true. He was actually in a conference room in a police station until he got bailed out. I want to thank our international viewers for watching. Ahead on 360 a lot more. An exclusive look inside Hurricane Katrina, video you've never seen before from a shrimp boat crew that rode through the storm.

Plus a gem and the South falls into trouble. Crime, racism and murder. The heart of Savannah, Georgia, what happened to the picturesque city.

And who are these militants taking control of the Palestinian government? We go inside the radical group Hamas and tell you why you should be concerned about its rise to power.

All that and more when 360 continues.


COOPER: Good evening. Tonight a tale of a brave shrimp boat crew on the rough seas as Hurricane Katrina barreled through. Their dangerous ride caught on tape. It's a view of the storm you've never seen before.

ANNOUNCER: Survival at sea. A 360 exclusive. When Katrina hit, they were on a boat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank God, that's a living miracle.


ANNOUNCER: Tonight, hear their harrowing tale. See their never- before-seen pictures as they fight to survive.

Too much to bear. Seven grandchildren die in a horrific car crash. Now a massive heart attack takes another life. Tonight, 360 investigates how the crash occurred and probes how it could have been avoided.


CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines