Is Oprah's Golden Touch Tarnished?

Unfortunately for Oprah Winfrey, some stories really are too good to be true.

Herman Rosenblat's memoir, "Angel at the Fence," deemed by Winfrey as "the single greatest love story" she's ever featured on her show, may now be coined by some as the single phoniest love story, after the author admitted he fabricated the story of how he and his wife met at a Nazi concentration camp.

They did not, as Rosenblat falsely wrote in the book, meet at a concentration camp during World War II, where Rosenblat claimed his wife had thrown him apples and bread over the barbed-wire fence that separated them.

Video: Holocaust love story turns out to be fake.

In reality, Rosenblat and his wife, Roma, were set up on a blind date in New York years after the war was over.

Ken Rosenblat, Rosenblat's son, knew for years of the hoax and expressed outrage today over his father's lie. He told the New York Post, "I didn't agree with it. I didn't want anything to do with it. I tried to just stay away from it."

Rosenblat's bogus autobiography is one of several memoirs that have been lauded by Winfrey and then later revealed to be frauds -- including James Frey's best-selling "A Million Little Pieces" and Margaret Seltzer's "Love and Consequences" -- consequently calling into question how much weight Winfrey's future book endorsements will carry.

Sara Nelson, the editor in chief of trade magazine Publishers Weekly, told that she wouldn't be surprised if Winfrey, in response to the recent hoaxes, is more cautious in the future about what books she talks about on her show.

"This is embarrassing for [Winfrey] and I'm sure she's not happy about it," said Nelson. "I think she'll be more careful about what she promotes."

Will Winfrey's Book Recommendations Go Unnoticed?

But even after endorsing three supposed memoirs that turned out to be more fiction than fact, Nelson doesn't think Winfrey's credibility will suffer.

"She was saved the embarrassment with [Rosenblat's book] in that it didn't come out with her book club sticker printed on the cover," Nelson said.

Frey's book was published in 2006 with Winfrey's highly-recognizable emblem on the book jacket and had garnered far more notoriety than Rosenblat's book. During the fallout from Frey's book, Winfrey appeared on her show as a victim, said Nelson, arguing that she had relied on the publishers to check its accuracy and that she, like her viewers, had been taken for a ride.

"I think Winfrey has successfully positioned herself to be viewed as an 'every reader' who is just as susceptible at being pulled into a hoax as everyone else," Nelson said. "She has an awful lot of credibility and, as usual, she'll escape this pretty much unscathed."

Representatives for Winfrey, citing a holiday break, were unavailable to comment about the recent revelations regarding Rosenblat's book.

Peter Gutierrez, a publishing consultant and non-fiction author, said that if Winfrey feels any backlash at all, it won't last long.

"While being duped twice in high-profile ways may make her stock take a temporary tumble, it could actually provide a way for her to play the crusader or victim role vis-à-vis the 'greedy' and 'unscrupulous' publishers and authors," Gutierrez said.

"In the long run, will her 'hit-maker' status suffer?" he wondered. "I think it depends a lot on market share -- who else can steal the spotlight in terms of being a taste-maker with her numbers and demographics who hasn't suffered the public setbacks Oprah has in the last two years?

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...