In her final scandal analysis, Kipnis writes about the author James Frey, whose blockbuster debut, A Million Little Pieces was initially heralded by Oprah Winfrey, and through her Oprah’s Book Club, catapulted to huge success. But when The Smoking Gun began to investigate Frey and determined that his book was less fact than fiction, Oprah came down as hard on him as she had originally praised him, this time demonizing the author and focusing on herself and her betrayal at his hands.
Kipnis quotes George Bernard Shaw, “All autobiographies are lies.” and comes down firmly on Frey’s side, stressing that the public is just fooling themselves to take all confessionals and memoirs as verbatim. She begins an interesting argument, but gets sidetracked by Oprah’s weight issues rather than calling the television host on her need to raise and then vilify James Frey. Oprah’s reaction to Frey was the most perfect example of Kipnis’s initial definition of why she believes people love scandal — that we secretly want to screw up and be punished, and also that we need and want to punish others for their screw-ups. But Kipnis seems reluctant to completely point the spotlight on such a powerful person as Oprah, which ultimately dilutes the book and its ending.