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Is Oprah's Biography by Kitty Kelley Exploitative?

Are Unauthorized Biographies Exploitative?

An unauthorized biography of Oprah called — what else? — Oprah hits bookstores tomorrow. And despite 850 interviews and three years of research (one spent simply cataloging every interview Oprah has ever given), just publishing an unauthorized bio of Oprah is a scandalous story itself.

On the Today show this morning, author Kitty Kelley tells Matt Lauer of Oprah's impenetrable power, as journalists, TV personalities, and media outlets now refuse interviews with Kitty all fearing the Oprah backlash. Even book publishers (nobody sells books better than Oprah) were afraid to publish the biography; although the very mainstream Crown imprint of Random House eventually took it on. Despite the immediate money the book would bring, publishers, TV shows, and publications know getting on Oprah's bad side is more costly in the long run.

All the noise over Oprah: A Biography raises a question about all unauthorized biographies: Are they exploitative to write or a journalistic service? Especially when the person is as powerful as Oprah.

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