Yes, Ladies! He's keeping the hair. Natch!
*See Update Below*
Well that was about insufferable.
Piers Morgan had an opportunity last night to hold James Ray's feet to the fire in a way that Arizona prosecutors could not. But it was Ray who was in control of that interview. Morgan could have had Ginny Brown on to offer a counterpoint, but Ray would not allow it. He would only deign to appear if he was the only guest. Why James Arthur Ray, convicted felon, is such a hot media property that he gets to set his terms is a mystery to me.
Morgan continued in the long CNN tradition of playing passive apologist for James Arthur Ray. This is, after all, the news organization that lost interest in covering the trial as it became increasingly apparent that Ray was going to be convicted. And that he's a horrible, horrible person.
For 45 minutes, Ray emoted for the camera about the totally unforeseeable events of October 8, 2009 and how painful it's been for himself and his family. Said Ray:
I think the most difficult thing I can ever imagine is investing your entire life in helping people, and then finding them getting hurt. It's just the antithesis of anything that I had ever stood for or wanted. [emphasis added] And so that anguish has continued every single day since that moment.
And much like when Lululemon announced that brutal murder was antithetical to their values, I gotta wonder why anyone would need to spell that out. Is Ray afraid we'll all think he asked his genie to bring him death and destruction?
The sweat lodge, as Ray tells it now, was just a tiny piece of Spiritual Warrior -- "the sizzle on the steak." I wonder where all those people -- his students year after year -- got the idea that it was the pinnacle event. No, says Ray to a nodding Piers Morgan, he really wasn't that into it. But you see, people had all these expectations and they had signed contracts. He didn't want to let them down. Some of them were really looking forward to it.
Except that the sweat lodge was only tangentially mentioned in the contract -- which was more of a tissue thin waiver really -- as something that "may" occur. No one was officially told about the sweat lodge until right before it happened. That would ruin the surprise!
Keep in mind that we will be working diligently to make this event memorable. For this reason, it is important that we do not disclose any further information regarding the event schedule or planned activities. However, we will tell you that it is going to be an exciting, unforgettable, and transformational week!
The rest of Ray's performance -- and I do mean that literally -- had about that much relationship to the truth.
He had no forewarning that something like those awful sweat lodge deaths could occur. Nothing remotely like this had ever happened before. Daniel Pfankuch? He just got a little dehydrated. And it's not like anybody -- students of his or a medical doctor, say -- had been telling him for years that he was risking people's lives with those temperatures. Nope. Never happened. That must be why his attorneys worked so hard to keep the evidence from previous years out of the trial -- previous years that looked like this.
Piers Morgan did a good job of looking grave and serious as he lobbed one softball after another and let Ray squirm out of the occasional tough question without scrutiny. But then, this is the hallmark of TV News in America now.
Only near the end did he ask the key question raised by Ray's recent communiques. "What about the families?" Why all the focus on the pain he has suffered? As he did throughout the interview, Ray cranked up the tear machine and talked about how he wished he could trade places with James, Kirby, or Liz. And how he knows he cannot -- which no doubt makes that sentiment a little easier to express, huh.
But I read Ray's self-indulgent twaddle and there is not a single mention of the people who died that day, or of their families, or of the people who were permanently harmed, or of the traumatized witnesses to that hellscape.
There's nothing in his email:
I know it's been quite a while since you heard from me, and I just want to begin by expressing my sincere thanks for staying with me over the last 4 years. For the last 4 months since my re-emergence I've been catching my breath and doing my best to rest, spend time with my family, and integrate the experiences of the last 4 years. Frankly understanding and integration will probably take the rest of my days.
After my birthday yesterday, it seemed the perfect time to begin a new chapter in my life; and continue to find ways in which I can be of service, given all that I've learned and experienced.
I've posted my first blog today and I plan on many more to come. If you'll take a moment and read it when you have a chance, my sincere hope and prayer is that it will be of value to you and your current situation in life.
Again thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued love and support, and I look forward to connecting again soon.
Much love and gratitude,
And there's nothing in his blog post, which is particularly odd because it's all about coming through the adversity of the last four years ("feels like forty"). He actually says that twice. Nowhere is there any mention of what happened that made it so rough. Just that he has been through hell. We're all supposed to be very impressed, I guess, that James Ray suffered the tortures of the damned in some vague, undefined way.
He's born it all stoically, it would seem, and has learned about the transformational power of the darkness. He is, as the title of his post suggests, filled with gratitude.
At the beginning and end of each day, I’m grateful to be alive; to have the gift of life; and to have the opportunity to take all the lessons and experiences and move forward. I believe we should all be grateful for each and every single day of life… regardless of whether we perceive them as positive or negative, up or down.
He's glad to be alive with all the gifts and days of life that we should all be grateful to be living... says the man who was convicted for the deaths of three people.
Ray is just full of gratitude. He's made it through a "spiritual, mental, and physical tsunami."
In the depth of darkness I made a conscious choice to “utilize” everything to my advantage—to facilitate my own development, advancement, and growth. For isn’t that what you and I both really want? The entirety of life and the whole of the Universe are about fuller expression, experience and expansion. Aren’t they?
Yes, it's all about him -- about what he has gone through and what he has learned. Because James Ray can use anything to his advantage... and anyone I guess.
Perhaps the biggest lie of all came near the very end of his interview. Asked if he'll go back into the self help industry, he says he just doesn't know. Oh, really. That must be why he's relaunched his blog, sent out emails to his list, and gotten himself booked on Piers Morgan. That he could say that with a straight face should tell you everything you'd ever want to know about his sincerity or the lack of it.
Update: Connie Joy has learned that James Ray and Piers Morgan are related by show biz marriage.
"Piers Morgan is represented (and proudly) by non other than Octagon entertainment. As a matter of fact, John Ferriter - who is now the media contact for James Arthur Ray - is also Piers Morgans' manager. Cozy, isn't it? A softball interview indeed. And the quotes Piers chose to repeat on his twitter account certainly make it look like a well-planned PR campaign."
I was just reflecting on how completely Morgan made himself an instrument of Ray's PR, even going so far as to suggest that Ray would make a better teacher after all he's lived through. That wasn't an interview. It was a dance.
And a scheduled follow up with Ginny Brown? Canceled.
Can we stop calling Piers Morgan a journalist yet? And how should we refer to CNN?