Everyone knows that an appearance on Oprah is a golden ticket to a best-selling book, a successful clothing line, or a huge elevation of your personal brand. In her last full year as a talk-show hostess ( Oprah's retiring in 2011 ) her influential guests' missteps are becoming ever more dangerous-their advice has cost people their lives. This week has been a particularly bad one for Oprah, as two high-profile guests have been discredited: Jenny McCarthy and motivational speaker James Arthur Ray. McCarthy is an advocate who believes that vaccines played a role in causing her son's autism , and just a few days ago the only research that showed that vaccines and autism were linked was completely discredited . Who knows how many people have not vaccinated their children and potentially caused a resurgence of disease because of McCarthy's misinformation? Today, news broke that James Arthur Ray, a "guru" who appeared on Oprah in conjunction with the self-help book The Secret , has been charged with manslaughter for the deaths of three people who suffocated in a sweat-lodge ceremony Ray led last year .
But McCarthy and Ray are only the latest in a string of frauds Oprah has allowed to grace her stage. Just last year, Newsweek had a huge expose of the medical advice Oprah 's guests have peddled. The magazine mentioned McCarthy , but also the insane health-releated rantings of former Three's Company star Suzanne Somers. Then there are the Oprah-championed authors who turned out to be liars: rehab fabulist James Frey and Holocaust memoir faker Herman Rosenblat . Oprah's been on for more than 20 years at this point, so it's not surprising that a small minority of her guests would turn out to be less than savory. But because she is so massively influential, it's good that these high-profile snafus are getting a lot of press. For the armies of women out there who rightfully adore the impressive Winfrey, this is a great reminder that even the big O is fallible.
Photograph of Oprah Winfrey by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Democrats’ War at Home
How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans
How Did the Royals Win Despite Bunting So Many Times? Bunting Is a Terrible Strategy.
Catacombs Where You Can Stroll Down Hallways Lined With Corpses
Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.
How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully
On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.