Nan Talese Slams Oprah, Stands by Frey


By Neal Comment

nan-talese.jpgThe Texas Pages blog, an online venture from the Dallas Morning News, ran a genuine scoop Sunday evening, previewing an item from the Monday morning paper about the impromptu remarks famed Doubleday editor Nan A. Talese (left) made at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Writers Conference. During a question-and-answer session with conference keynoter Joyce Carol Oates, Talese chimed in with a bitter critique of that Oprah episode on which James Frey was thrown to the wolves. Not only is Talese “unapologetic of the whole thing,” she believes Winfrey’s on-air humiliation of Frey was a display of “fiercely bad manners.” She further claims that Oprah Winfrey‘s producers misled both her and Frey as to the nature of that show, and that Winfrey told Frey, after it was all over, “I know it was rough, but it’s just business.”

Talese’s version of events doesn’t entirely ring true—it’s hard to believe that she really thought Oprah was interested in having her on stage with Richard Cohen and Frank Rich to discuss something as banal as “truth in America”—but she scores major points by openly attacking the “holier-than-thou” attitude of Winfrey and her audience, particularly their indignant outburst when Frey admitted that his girlfriend had used a different method to kill herself than that described in his memoirs.