Lies are the new Truth

BL asked in a comment on another post here:  "i’m surprised you haven’t blogged about Frey and LeRoy yet. i’m curious to see what you have to say."

I haven’t written about it because I have nothing to add that hasn’t already been said. They are liars and they got caught. Lying is very much in vogue these days, not just here, but all over the world (eg  President Bush saying Iraq was producing weapons of mass destruction, President Clinton saying he  didn’t have sex with Monica Lewinsky, the South Korean geneticist who made up all his research results, Jayson Blair making up news reports for the New York Times, etc. etc.) I’ve written here before about how blithely and unapologetically people are "anti-factual" and "disembling" and "honesty-challenged" nowadays. What amazes me is that Frey et all actually think that they can perpetuate a very public, widely repeated lie and get away with it. The fact that these unabashed liars simply don’t care is the disturbing new wrinkle.  Perhaps what we are seeing is an evolution…the beginning of lies as the new truth. Who needs truth anyway?

32 thoughts on “Lies are the new Truth”

  1. This all broke a couple days after I downloaded the book from, which, well, sucks. I’ve not listened to it and now have little desire to do so. I wonder if they’ll take it back and give me my download credit…
    I also wish I had seen this review before downloading the book.

  2. You left out Schwarzenegger’s equating throwing a woman into a wall when she tried to fight him off, telling an 18-year-old waitress “We’re going to rape you,” grabbing complete strangers by the ass in elevators, and about twenty other counts of felony general & sexual battery with being “playful”.

  3. Lewis: Who the hell bought DaVinci Code “based on Brown’s representations of accuracy”? Certainly not me. I may be one of the only people ’round here who’ll actually admit enjoying DVC, but even I knew Brown was making shit up.

  4. This is a different situation, Lewis. A Million Little Pieces is nonfiction; Brown’s is fiction. And how the audience perceives or wants to believe in the work is irrelevent.

  5. It sickens me to see this is what makes a best-seller. Lying, as Frey has done, and reaping an already tilled field in Lew’s case is what constitutes success these days. Once you have it, there is no falling. The money and the corporate interests defend it. I didn’t know the refund was a done deal though. Didn’t they deny the claim?

  6. I think of yet another Random House author when reading this from Lev Grossman at
    “… If it’s not factual, why didn’t Frey publish A Million Little Pieces as fiction? By claiming this his story was literally true, Frey endowed it with a heightened immediacy and an emotional force that it lacked as a novel – in effect, he borrowed a litttle extra emotional oomph from his trusting readers, who treated his narrative as 100% lived experience, real dues paid by a real person. That’s not trivial. If Frey wasn’t entitled to that immediacy and that force – if he stole that oomph rather than borrowed it – well, that’s cheating. And he should come clean and give it back.”
    Of course, A Million Little Pieces is chump change compared with Da Vinci Code and thus follows that Random House would feed one author to the wolves (refunds etc) and not the other.

  7. There are many articles about people buying DVCode for the “facts” … indeed, the steadfast representations that it was based on fact was the foundation of an entire industry setting things straight.
    This is not different.
    IF you say something is true, then it should be true. If you say that “X, Y, and Z are the facts on which the fictionn is based” then it’s your moral and ethical duty to make sure that X,. Y & Z _are_ true … and if you turn out to be wrong, then you need to ‘fess up.

  8. I’m sorry, but what exactly is the harm here? I realize that Million Little Pieces was marketed as non-fiction, but it’s not like the author was selling it as instructions for dismantling a bomb or proof that Iraq had ties to Al Qaeda and therefore we must invade. And it’s not like he was using his exagerrated misery to ask for money.
    Whether or not Frey exaggerated the state of his miserableness, how does that possibly change the experience of the reader?
    The memoir of a former drunk is hardly a crucial historical document. So aside from the pleasure we can all get from tsk-tsking a writer who’s made a lot more money than anyone around here, why do we give a damn? And if you actually wanted to read this book when you thought that Frey fell in his own vomit one hundred times, why would you lose the desire simply because the real number was only 35?

  9. William I find it hard to believe you could say something like this.
    “And it’s not like he was using his
    exagerrated misery to ask for money.”
    Really? How so? It’s exactly what he did. He invented characters that weren’t real, the central one, other than himself in the narrative. Three hours in jail became three months. Give me a break. It’s fraud.

  10. A headline that should have said: RH Stands By Author, AGAIN!
    Now I ask you: If Frey over embellished, and represented his MS as fact, what effect will this have on RH’s reputation?
    First Dan Brown and now this?
    Makes me wonder how many other red flag ‘AGAINS’ exist with RH.
    Like: Did they KNOW about Dan Brown’s alleged plagiarism of Lew Perdue’s DoG / DVL. before publishing DVC?
    The ‘mainstream media’ is all over Frey for lying. RH is offering refunds. And Oprah is backing Frey.
    Woe! Where was the ‘mainstream media’ when Lew Perdue’s solid appeal was filed in December, 2005? What? No takers? But, you can bet that RH’s response will be heralded. Selective yellow journalism?
    A company that keeps that tight a reign on policy eventually busts its seams and through disgruntled employees becomes grist for the mass mill.
    What would it take for someone from RH to admit that their PR policy doesn’t include admitting to or taking responsibility for ‘errors’?
    It does prompt more questions about placing burdens of proof upon an author. Will publishers now have to put authors through lie detector tests? ( RH’s petty cash could probably pay for a lie detector machine.)
    Writers lie all the time; when the lies get published: it’s called Fiction.
    Frey may have lied; but plagiarism is stealing.
    Does this mean that at RH it’s ok to ’embellish’ the facts, as long as you don’t steal them?
    In my opinion, RH’s rep is in the toilet. Whooosh!

  11. It matters because Frey is doling out bad advice to credulous people who want to believe that they can conquer their addictions through willpower alone, just as he supposedly did. He deserves to be called on his bullshit, just as JT Leroy deserves to be slapped down for soliciting money from people sympathetic to his bogus HIV status.

  12. And it’s not like he was using his exagerrated misery to ask for money.
    Unless the book was free or he was donating all proceeds to charity, I’d say that’s exactly what he was doing.
    And if you actually wanted to read this book when you thought that Frey fell in his own vomit one hundred times, why would you lose the desire simply because the real number was only 35?
    Speaking only for myself, I lost the desire when I read the linked review, with excerpts in which the writing was horrendous.
    Alas, by then, the damage was done.

  13. Some people have taken issue with my saying that “it’s not like he was using his exaggerated misery to ask for money,” saying that that was exactly what he was doing by selling his book.
    But that’s not true at all. He wasn’t begging for charity. He was selling an experience. There are people who are willing, eager even, to spend $25 to wallow in someone else’s addiction memoir. It gives them some kind of emotional or artistic pleasure. That’s what Frey delivered. Would the reading experience have been better for these readers if the author had been more truthful? I doubt it.
    He was selling and they were buying.

  14. “He wasn’t begging for charity. He was selling an experience.”
    I don’t buy it. He was selling experiences he didn’t have on the premise that he did in a hyperbolic appeal to emotion. He’s a fraud and they wouldn’t have bought it had they known the truth. You can attack the audience, but that weak tactic won’t excuse the basic premise of fraud.

  15. I think what he did was wrong. He claimed it was truth when it wasn’t, that’s called lying. It was published as nonfiction when it was made up, that’s called fiction. He accepted money and fame under false pretenses, that’s called fraud. Penalties anyone? Won’t happen I’m betting.

  16. Well he’s (Moore) playing s serious second fiddle to the US Government when it comes to lying. Oh yeah, well we weren’t really fired on after all.(Gulf of Tonkin)Sounds a whole lot like Frey doesn’t it? Gee I wasn’t really imprisoned, but I thought it would make a good “true story” to justify earning millions on a lie.

  17. >>He accepted money and fame under false >>pretenses, that’s called fraud.
    Just out of curiousity, what country do you live in? Hell, what century do you live in?
    He accepted fame under false pretenses? Unlike who? Paris Hilton? The “cast” of The Surreal Life or Survivor? Jessica Simpson?
    All these people who are clutching their pearls in shock, shock! that this memoir isn’t 100 percent accurate might want to turn on the TV or open a copy of People Magazine.
    The only thing that matters right now is being famous. Or, if you can’t have that, making sure you know every last detail about everyone who IS famous, so you can be in the know about “Brangelina” or “Apple” or whatever moronic talking point of the day is being spread.
    Of course, while everyone’s busy worrying about whether or not James Frey actually passed out in his own vomit, a small group of billionaires are systematically transferring this country’s weath into their own pockets.
    But you’re not supposed to notice that. No, you’re supposed to be worrying about the truthiness of Frey’s memoir.

  18. Oh I notice and this is all part of it: the powerful win regardless if they’re caught stealing, killing or lying about killing or whatever. I get it just fine. Rich boy screenwriter lies and hits it big. It’s a familiar theme for sure. That nly makes me like less so I don’t find a nonissue or a side issue as you seem to. Maybe we should just jump on the bandwagon? Why fight it?
    >>He accepted money and fame under false >>pretenses, that’s called fraud.”
    I don’t find this exact language here but maybe I missed it in rescanning of the thread.
    It is fraud. He accepted the money and was awarded the fame whether he wanted it or not.

  19. Lewis Perdue is a sick man who needs help. He’s convinced Dan Brown stole from him, but his case has been found to have literally no merit whatsoever. He spends his whole life trashing Dan Brown, hoping somehow it’ll change the facts in his favor.
    What a way to waste a life.

  20. Well Rog that’s an opinion, but as we know they aren’t all created equal. Take yours for instance. “Has been found,” has been appealed. It’s funny, Brown plagiarized a website before he hit it big. I wonder why? Technique? Or practice? We’ll see.

  21. Mark –
    Which website did Dan Brown plagarize? I hadn’t heard about that.
    Of course Lew disputes the finding and has appealed. That’s his right under the justice system. But that’s just procedural and doesn’t say anything about the merits of the case.
    As far as the merits go, the fact is that the only finding by any official impartial arbiter is that his case has no merit whatsoever, not even a little.
    The only people who believe Brown plagarized Lew are a tiny number of Perdue fans and Lew’s highly paid-off “consultants.”
    I feel sorry for Lew, and especially for his family. I’ve enjoyed his books, and when I met him at a signing he seemed like a smart and pleasant guy.
    But this whole plagarism thing does just seem like a ploy to sell his books.
    I know someone who knows Dan Brown very, very well and the actual truthful fact is he didn’t plagarize and hadn’t even heard of Lew.
    But Lew says on his website that he’s never going to quit attacking Brown, ever, regardless of what the truth may be. Which makes sense.
    Because the day he stops attacking Brown is the day his only source of publicity goes away. So it’s a business move, and I suppose a sensible one, given that he can’t sell many books otherwise.

  22. The evidence is irrefutable. Brown copied the fiction created by Lew. The Council of Nicea thesis specifically if memory serves. The website is discussed at writopia. The writer is in Oregon. Brown has verbatim her advice on publishing as his on his website from that time. I doubt you know Brown frankly. Lew sold many books long before Brown and has a new one out in hardcover.

  23. Roger: Actually, my ‘highly paid-off “consultants”.’ have done their work for NO PAY … they were outraged by what they found. My attorneys are on contingency and every penny made from increased sales (and a lot more) has gone to support Books ‘n Blues. Check it out:
    And any money won in this suit goes to charity.
    There are many people — none paid by me — who would disagree with your statement.
    And if Dan did not plagiarize me, then he could have set that issue to rest immediately by filing an affidavit under oath, somthing he refuses to do.
    Fortunately, I have many good sources of publicity, not the least of which are good reviews and a loyal readership that has enabled me to sell more than 4 million books.
    I didn’t need Brown for my three previous bestsellers and I don’t need him now.
    And I NEVER said, that I’d never stop attacking Brown “regardless of what the truth may be.”
    I have told the truth in my postings. Do you think that the trigger-happy lawyers at Random House would hesitate to file another lawsuit aginst me if I was NOT?
    The only “business move” that’s being made is here Random House trying to defend its right to sell fiction as fact … whether in DVCode or A Million Little Pieces.
    Oh yes, the”official impartial arbiter” who found my “case has no merit” did so in large part because he swallowed Brown’s “faux history” (stolen from me) as real history.
    As for web site plagiarism, you may want to check this post out.


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