Chika Onyeani is the author of the explosive bestseller, "Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success," and whose forthcoming book, "The Broederbond Conspiracy," will soon be published. Onyeani is the publisher and editor-in-chief of the largest and only weekly African newspaper in America, the award-winning "African Sun Times."
Oprah Winfrey, the most powerful voice on television throughout the whole world, has inadvertently allowed herself to be conned twice by a relatively unknown, and as it has now turned out, author who completely fabricated it seems every page of what he had written in a so-called memoir of his. The first time was on October 26, 2005, when in one of her shows, Oprah trotted out the author, a man known as James Frey, and sat him beside herself as she does with her guests. What had drawn Oprah to James Frey was a book he had written, a book which he said chronicled his life of being an alcoholic, drug addict, as well as a criminal. Yes, brothers and sisters, recounting this kind of life really made a deep impression on this money-magnet of a powerful woman.
In that October 26 show, which had been advertised as "The Man Who Kept Oprah Awake at Night," Oprah described the book, "A Million Little Pieces," as "like nothing you've ever read before. Everybody at Harpo (Harpo is Ms. Winfrey's more than a billion dollar company) is reading it. When we were staying up late at night reading it, we'd come in the next morning saying, "What page are you on?". In the intervening period, she showed a segment whereby employees of Harpo Productions said the book was revelatory, with some of them choking back tears. Later on, Oprah herself was shown wiping tears from her eye, and then said, "I'm crying 'cause these are all my Harpo family so, and we all loved the book so much."
Well, let me tell you what happened with Oprah's endorsement of the book - the sales sky-rocketed by more than 3 million copies (hard copies) at $22.95 a copy in just three months. That's the kind of power that Oprah possesses when she endorses a book. Just do the math!!
With that kind of endorsement and astronomical sales figures, and coupled with envy or just the pure need to verify facts, investigative journalists started asking questions. One of the best known investigative web-sites is called "The Smoking Gun," www.thesmokinggun.com, and members of the site are pretty good at unearthing facts about issues. The journalists at The Smoking Gun (TSG) went through page by page of James Frey's book, and found out that most of what he had written were all lies. They went to work and began interviewing the individuals, or events that the author, James Frey, had written about in the book. The first story they debunked was Frey's account of how, under a large dose of one of the most hallucinatory and deadly drugs in America called "crack", he drove his car into a policeman in a small town in Ohio, one of the states in America. Well, you can't run down a policeman in America, and so a wild melee ensued. That is of course the story that James Frey told in his book, which turned out to be mostly lies.
When the article about this man who had appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show - of course, you instantly become a celebrity when you appear on her show - was made public, Frey issued a statement, denying that he had fabricated most of what he wrote in his book, and in fact, threatening legal action against the chaps at The Smoking Gun.
In another much publicized show, called the "Larry King Live," on the CNN network, (by any means a lot smaller than Oprah's show), by the way Oprah is on the ABC which you might not have heard but surely you have heard of the CNN, Mr. Frey drafted his mother on to Larry King's show to buttress his lies.
But in a show of shame, which she termed support, Oprah, out of character, maybe this youngman hatched some voodoo/juju on her, called the show to say, despite the fact the book was a total fabrication, she said she still supported the essence of the book. "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," Oprah said. "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." The backlash against her was instantaneous - she was roundly criticized for supporting lies.
That was how James Frey conned Oprah Winfrey the first time and he is now a multimillionaire. In fact, he even has a second book, which I won't mention here that's again on the New York Times bestseller list. I really don't give a damn about the New York Times bestseller list, okay. They know my book, Capitalist Nigger, belongs there but have refused to put it up there, so I say let them go f--k themselves.
So, Oprah had to do something quickly to redeem her high reputation and credibility, and of course her bottom line, which is the profit margin of her company - Harpo Productions (by the way, if you don't know, Harpo is Oprah spelt backwards). First, she issued a statement saying that she was sorry for having called the Larry King Show to express support for James Frey, and regretted being 'duped.'
But everything she said was music to Mr. James Frey, who was already plotting another way to con Oprah again. Oprah issued a command to Mr. Frey, and the person directly involved in handling him at the Random House publishing company, Dan Talese, to appear on her show, so that she could quiz him about whether he told lies in his book. This reminds me of the story of the young girl in a village who had returned from school, and as soon as she got home, started crying on top of her voice. Her mother tried to find out what was wrong with her and why she was crying, but the girl bellowed more cries. Eventually, the mother threatened to beat the shit out of her if she didn't tell why she was crying. The girl, relented and said, "a boy did something to me," and she pointed where. The mother demanded who and where the boy was. "Okay, let's go," the mother said. When mother and daughter reached where a group of young men were, she said to the daughter point out the boy. The girl pointed to the boy. The mother marched over to the boy, and threatened him and commanded him to lie down. The boy of course quickly complied. She summoned her daughter and said get on top and do it back to him. That's how I feel about Oprah's command to James Frey. It was music to the boys ears, so was Oprah's command to James Frey. It was music to his ears.
So, James Frey appeared again on Oprah's show. Oprah appearance was stern, angry, and no-nonsense. She berated James Frey with questions, and he answered, mumbled actually, with yes to all her questions. "Yes, I lied about that, yes, that was a lie, yes I made that up." Americans would say, "bullshit."
You know what Oprah has really done, boost James Frey a second time, and boosted his book sales even more. You know why, because everybody now wants to find out what the fuss is all about.
Do you know why I am particularly pissed about the whole episode - guess. Well, I am pissed because about a month and half ago, Oprah had a show in which she talked about the word "Nigger" and said the word was inordinately offensive to her and she didn't want anybody around her to use it. But thanks to Don Cheadle of the "Hotel Rwanda" fame, who challenged her about the relevance of the word as it applies to black people, the other black guests were like poodles, who though had disagreed with her, suddenly changed their minds and said the word was offensive to them as well. In fact, the young hip hop artist, said he was thinking about not even using, "nigga" that young blacks use as calls of endearment to themselves. Can you just imagine, if Oprah is bothered by the word, "Nigger", then the whole Black Race is in big trouble.
But more especially, I am pissed because of the title of my book, "Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success," a book that hundreds of thousands of people said is liberating their minds; Oprah has refused to invite me to talk about my book. But our people are discarding Oprah's fame of endorsement and are making "Capitalist Nigger," the bestseller it has been.
What a disgrace that she has allowed this rotten egg to be rub on her face by allowing herself to be conned twice by this con-artist-excellence!!
So, I urge you to go out there and purchase your own copy of "Capitalist Nigger," which millions of Black people are talking about and have acclaimed as liberating their minds from the syndrome of victim mentality. Let's show Oprah that we can create our own five million book sales without her endorsement.