Monday, February 20, 2006

Pitiful journalism

Reading this Time mag story on the Smoking Gun expose of author James Frey, two things struck me.

One, the subtitle: "How the suits behind the website that took down best-selling author James Frey plan to cash in" is spurious. First, the Smoking Gun didn't "take down" Frey. They exposed his fraud. Anyone remotely respecting the truth would applaud that. That is, everyone but Time.

Two, the first paragraph of the article implies that Oprah Winfrey was responsible in some way for uncovering Frey. The writer deliberately distorts the chronology to make it look like Oprah did the outing. Or, at least, should share the credit. She had no part in their investigation. Her subsequent on camera "shredding" as Time would call it, was more to salvage her reputation than castigate Frey for his literary fraud. (Fraud is a word not used once by the writer.)

The whole article bears the unmistakable stamp of behind-the-scenes editors whispering, "Don't mention Oprah's appearance on Larry King defending Frey." and "Don't give em credit. We need to infer they are money-grubbing bastards. Not journalists like us. You know, real investigative reporters."


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