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Hephaestion

Wow, I couldn't disagree with your comments more. Many of desperately wanted to hear every word and MORE about Nate Berkus and his partner Fernando on Oprah. We have heard a thousand hours of information on donating and helping people there, and we have now sent in our money - all we can afford - to tsunami assistance organizations. We have already read and heard a thousand hours of stories about every inch of Sri Lanka and Aceh province and other places.
NOW it was appropriate to hear the real life stories of some people we KNOW who were THERE. It is absurd to suggest that this prevented people from getting some other information they needed. WE WHO KNEW NATE NEEDED THIS. And in fact, way too little time was spent on Nate. He gave credit to the Swedes and Brits who came on the show with him, and told how they helped to save his life and help others. These are stories we need to hear now. NO one said Nate was suddenly a saint. NO one said there are not others in worse shape. I work with homeless people who sleep in 5 degree cold every night; You think I don't know this? However, at the end of Oprah's show they DID advertise a group raising money to help tsunami-stricken areas.
And a beautiful man, Nate Berkus, was able to thank those of us who have written to him, and shared his experience. I thank God for that. YOU need to lighten up and get perspective.

christy edlin

It is amazing that at a time like this any negative comment would be made by anyone.
It HELPED to see someone we "know" to put a "real" face on this disaster. It must have been harder for Nate than experiencing the tsunami itself...to go on national television and bear his soul and grief. That is where you see the hand of God at work, not in focusing and making up negative comments about Nate.

jcm

I watched a part of this show and was very moved...... then towards the end I found myself becoming quite uneasy, even disturbed. Yes, Nate's comments were eloquent and heart felt and I thank him for that but I also greatly desired to hear something from the other guests sitting on that stage. I was saddened and disappointed that in the end this wonderful idea for a show SEEMED to have a hidden agenda. Perhaps Nate was the only survivor there who had anything meaningful to say, but somehow I don't think that was the reason another guest was LITERALLY cut off from sharing their feelings; while Nate, yet again, had "something (he) wanted to say". At this point, whenever Oprah asked a question that seemed poised for the whole group, the camera only closed in on Nate.... and he immediately began speaking. This indicates a prior decision as to who is to do the answering. I opened myself emotionally, with gratitude, for what I thought was the focus of the show. I felt manipulated in the end. I'm not trying to be negative. Just trying to understand.

Briord2001

Here's a little Chicago perspective for Hephaestion's comments. I think you should lay off Peter for having an opinion. As a neighbor and acquaintance of Nate Berkus, I find it disturbing that Emma Squire's storey was "edited" on the internet prior to the taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show" on the 14th. (I still have the original copy) NOW, on the day that the taped show aired, the Fernando & Nate site (fernandoandnate.blogspot.com) has been deleted. I too, found the show strangely disturbing and would have liked to hear more from the other people who were flown in to Chicago.

Maureen

I can't agree more that I'm shocked how anyone could be so insensitive as to say anything negative about Nate's appearance on Oprah. We have all been told time after time how and where we can donate. Nobody is claiming sainthood for Nate, but he has been through hell and back like the rest of them. He is suffering, not only the loss of his partner, but the nagging memories of what he went through, and what he saw. I'm sure the nightmares must be horrific. I don't think the entire show was dedicated just to Nate, or aired to help his career. I'm sure he needs to help in that department. There were other people on who also told their story of others, besides Nate. And I praise Oprah for having him on for all of us who really care, to see that he truly is safe at home, and doing well. God Bless you Nate.

laura

What is really wrong with Oprah airing a show obviously featuring Nate. It's her decision and she must have felt there was a good reason to focus on him and use the others as stage props.

kelly

It's crucial many times for people to have a face to connect to a tragedy like this. There's absolutely nothing wrong with airing an episode dedicated to how this affected one person and the larger circle of people who were all connected to the sad event.

I feel each segment of the episode was focused on a different aspect of the tsunami. Yes, the focal point was Nate and his partner, Fernando. But a significant part was dedicated to the father and his family who were caught up in the tsunami as well. And how powerful and moving that Oprah chose to show how these lives intersected and how the power of the human spirit traveled between all of them.

Each of the people on the stage in some way helped each other, rescued each other, and gave each other the strength needed to get through.

There's so much aid being collected and sent for the disaster, I feel it was refreshing to see an intimate account of how the tsunami affected a small group of people.

The personal testimony of one who has experienced something alwasy speaks more prfoundly to me.

VaLynne

Nate is not "unique or saint material" as you say, and maybe that is why I am glad I got to hear his story. He is a normal human person who has survived and at the same time lost someone close to him. I, like many others have lost a loved one, maybe not in such a tragic way as Fernando was killed, but I know that talking helps the healing and I am glad that Nate shared his story with us. If you felt "minipulated" it was because you wanted to find something wrong with the show and you did. I felt all through the show, that not only was I feeling true empathy for Nate but for all of the Tsunami victims. We may have got to hear "only" Nate's story but it felt like we were hearing all the stories. Thanks Nate and Oprah for all you did for us today.

Jim

I just stumbled across this site while surfing. I saw the show. I was deeply moved. However, I do think that there is p.r. behind this young man and those people are seeing this horrible tragedy in his life as an opportunity for them to expand his profitablity and name and make some major money off his successes. He is talented, he is popular, good-looking and ripe for America. As Oprah told us and Berkus, he will overcome this and move on. It saddens me that behind the scenes people are cashing in on his horrible ordeal. I have no doubt they are. I hope Nate can rise above all of them and not sell his proverbial soul to the devil, but allow his talent and charm and apparant sweetness to be the foundation of his future successes. He has suffered more that many of us ever will, and I wish him peace and happiness and closure.

Wenmand

I watched the Oprah show featuring her regular guest...Nate. Yes, this is someone she knows who was a victim in this horrible tragedy. How anyone can find something negative in the show is beyond me.

I wanted to give more money to relief efforts after watching this broadcast.

Look for the postitive and avoid the negative!

My prayers are with all of the victims and their familes.

redford

I have read the previous comments and would like to add my own. I saw the show, as well. I don't think anyone here is trying to criticize Nate in any way. He was a wonderful guest and brought us to tears with his sincere and pure desire to share. I think what is being discussed critically, is the undercurrent. If you missed it, then the show was a simple focus, mainly on one, very dear , man's experience and beautiful perspective. It surely was that, and very moving. The undercurrent is what is being felt by some and the need to discuss it is important. I don't believe they are just being negative. They are sensitive and knowledable. Don't judge so harshly.

Kailin

To see how they turned & used this story for ratings makes me mad! 'crisis, crisis, crisis' her producer screamed! I bet they were worried about Nate's sexuality being 100%publicised at that hour so they implemented that 'friend' strategy that totally failed! Looks like this pity seeking show might have done it. They are out to get viewers, thats what its about.

Jurgen

Interesting how the fernando and nate blog has mysteriously dissapeared.

Jo

You know the old saying, "You can't please all of the people, all of the time".

I feel the show did a wonderful job describing what it was like to actually be caught in the middle of the terror!

It definately made it more real to be able to put some faces to the stories.

Jo

Ko

The original version of Emma Squire's story included this: "By the way, Brad Pitt is a pothead and has bad skin, Julia Roberts is down to earth, had no entourage and doesn’t wear much make-up and Renee Zelweiger is a bit odd. The list could go on." she was quoting what she had learnt from Nate Berkus about these celebs..

Janice

It seems almost as if there is some personal or professional jealousy on the part of Peter Davidson toward Nate Berkus. Will this disaster increase his popularity? Perhaps...it is human nature to be interested in hearing the sad details...the equivalent of rubber-necking a crash on a highway. And then, of course, there were those of us who are sincerely interested in the well-being of someone we watch and admire. Are there thousands more stories of loss and tragedy? Yes. Could Oprah have them all on her show? Of course not. So she chose to ask Nate, who her viewers have been worrying about, to bring a human face and eloquent voice to this tragedy. As far as any underhanded plots to advance his career (which seems to be doing quite well on its own, thank you very much) or the producer being in a panic that his sexuality was about to be "outed", how ridiculous. His sexual preference was not a secret...I found that out long ago reading an online bio of him. Let's not be petty, Peter. Nate is a successful and well-spoken, universally attractive man who Oprah's viewers wanted to hear about. He told his story, and described the tsuanami and its afteraffects in a voice we could all relate to and understand. I think the real point was, during this awful tragedy, he wasn't "Nate Berkus, Super Designer," he was just another terrified guy who'd suffered a great loss and had no idea where to turn. Mother Nature, as it turns out, can be an equal opportunity destroyer. Instead of criticizing, you should be thanking God you did not have to walk a mile in Nate's shoes, and praying for his recovery as well as that of all those affected by the tsunami.

Wayne

I have to agree with a few of the other posts. I think the bigger picture here is that Oprah aka "Harpo" owns the universe. So goes Oprah...so goes the nation. The odd thing is that there appears to be cult-like qualities of Oprah's fans and as a result, many of them will defend her to their death. One mention at lunch today of how ridiculous Oprah and her followers have become almost sent me to the hospital with serious injury. Let's face it people...she has a good number of people brainwashed. Get out now while you still can!

Dave Black

WOW!!! It is such a pitiful stretch to make Nate's tragic experience a negative and selfish attempt to further his career that I have to believe it is motivated by an underlying resentment of success and (I hate to even entertain this thought)the possibility that he might be gay. Before thinking I have jumped to a wrong conclusion please visit at least two other chat sites and notice how the main focus of every other letter is about his sexuality. I am especially leary of the notes that seem to thimk Nate dishonest to have never mentioned that he is gay on the Oprah show while smack dab in the middle of designing someone's "Dreamhome". I am sure the same people were saying Ellen should not have came "out" on her show and that she also did it for ratings. Which way do you want it guys? I dont think the Oprah show or Nate cared at all if you knew he was gay. The words "partner" and "friend" are used on network shows because people like you cannot handle hearing "boyfriend". It is you who are uncomfortable with the truth, not Nate or Oprah. They are only filtering the language to try not to offend those of you who are so ready to throw stones. I guess it didnt work anyway. You are still filled with hate and contept and will never be swayed. I am sad for you.

Kim

Not trying to change the subject but "WOW!!!" I think Dave's issues are about something else that has not even been part of the discussion in this chat group. Maybe he should take that strong resentment and direct it towards a chat group who has even SLIGHTLY veered in the direction he wants to take it.

carla

Peter,

Thank you for your comments. While my heart goes out to Nate and all "anglo" survivors and non-survivors of the tsunami, I think that it is important to keep all of this in perspective. I thought this article summed it all up.

COMMENT
FLOOD TIDE
Issue of 2005-01-17
Posted 2005-01-10

Nearly four million men, women, and children have died as a consequence of the Congo civil war. Seventy thousand have perished in the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. In the year just ended, scores of thousands died in wars and massacres elsewhere in Africa, in Asia, in the archipelagoes of the Pacific, and, of course, in Iraq. Less dramatically, but just as lethally, two million people died of malaria around the world, and another million and a half of diarrhea. Five million children died of hunger. Three million people died of aids, mostly in Africa. The suffering of these untimely and terrible deaths—whether inflicted by deliberate violence, the result of human agency, or by avoidable or treatable malady, the result of human neglect—is multiplied by heartbroken parents and spouses, numbed and abandoned children, and, often, ruined survivors vulnerable to disease and predation and dependent, if they are lucky, on the spotty kindness of strangers.

The giant wave that radiated from western Sumatra on the day after Christmas destroyed the lives of at least a hundred and fifty thousand people and the livelihoods of millions more. A hundred and fifty thousand: fifty times the toll of 9/11, but “only” a few per cent of that of the year’s slower, more diffuse horrors. The routine disasters of war and pestilence do, of course, call forth a measure of relief from public and private agencies (and to note that this relief is almost always inadequate is merely to highlight the dedication of those who deliver it). But the great tsunami has struck a deeper chord of sympathy.

One can understand why. Partly it’s that although the scale of the horror is unimaginable (or so it has been repeatedly described), the horror itself is all too imaginable. A giant wave speaks to a childlike fear that can be apprehended by anyone who has ventured too far out from the beach in a suddenly mounting swell, has felt helpless in the suck of undertow or riptide, has been slammed and spun and choked by a breaker tall enough to block the sky. Partly it’s that the reach of the disaster was so vast, far vaster than any hurricane or monsoon or terrestrial earthquake: three thousand miles from end to end. Partly it’s that people from all over the world, seeking a holiday in the sun, witnessed the catastrophe. People from more than fifty countries lost their lives in it; among the dead and missing, nearly two weeks later, were more than seven thousand foreign tourists. (Nearly two thousand of them were Swedes; if that number holds, then Sweden’s immediate losses, proportionately, will be greater than Thailand’s.) Finally, and perhaps most important, it’s that this is a drama that has victims and heroes—but no villains. No human ones, anyway.

The terrible arbitrariness of the disaster has troubled clergymen of many persuasions. The Archbishop of Canterbury is among those newly struggling with the old question of how a just and loving God could permit, let alone will, such an undeserved horror. (Of course, there are also preachers, thankfully few, who hold that the horror is not only humanly deserved but divinely intended, on account of this or that sin or depredation.) The tsunami, like the city-size asteroid that, on September 29th, missed the earth by only four times the distance of the moon, is a reminder that, one way or another, this is the way the world ends. Man’s laws are proscriptive, nature’s merely descriptive.

Yet it is the very “meaninglessness” of the catastrophe—its lack of human agency, its failure to fit into any scheme of human reward and punishment—that has helped make possible the simple solidarity of the global response. President Reagan, to the exasperation of his aides, used to muse that human beings, faced with some mortal threat from beyond the skies, would put aside their differences in common cause. Something like that, on a very modest scale, appears to be happening as the world clamors to help the survivors of the destroyer from beneath the seas. Tsunamis have no politics.

Even so, there were familiar elements in the responses of the Bush Administration. Two days after the disaster, a White House spokesman, asked why President Bush himself had so far remained silent, explained, “He didn’t want to make a symbolic statement about ‘we feel your pain.’” On the third day, the President finally voiced his condolences in person, and two days later the government’s emergency-aid allotment, initially pegged at fifteen million dollars, was raised to three hundred and fifty million, where it remains. On the eighth day, even as Secretary of State Colin Powell, in Thailand, was saying that enough money was at hand, Bush, now back at the White House, appeared side by side with his father, George H. W. Bush (whom he had never before granted such a public role), and his father’s successor, Bill Clinton (the object of his spokesman’s snideness), to announce that he was appointing them to lead a private fund-raising drive in the United States.

“We’re a very generous, kindhearted nation,” the President said on December 29th. And so we are. But it is unseemly to boast about it at such a moment. It would be unseemly even if it were not the case that Australia, Germany, and Japan have been considerably more generous in absolute terms and perhaps a dozen other countries have been more so in per-capita terms. “We’re showing the compassion of our nation in the swift response,” Bush said on January 3rd. “But the greatest source of America’s generosity is not our government—it’s the good heart of the American people.” That is true, too; but it is also true, or should be, that in a democracy a government’s generosity is an expression of a people’s heart, not something separate from it. There is reason to worry that the Administration regards private relief efforts as a partial replacement for, rather than as a supplement to, the efforts of the United States government; and reason to worry, too, that the funds for tsunami relief will come at the expense of victims of disasters yet to occur. According to the Times, the Administration plans to use money from the disaster-and-famine-assistance program of the United States Agency for International Development, whose budget for this year is $384.9 million, and consulted with “senior Republican lawmakers” to try “to cover the costs of this disaster without undermining Mr. Bush’s other priorities,” such as “making his tax cuts permanent.”

A few influential Republicans, however, are beginning to say that America should help the victims of the tsunami without beggaring other assistance programs, and if their view prevails then our aid will indeed be, as the Administration insists, an expression of “American values.” But these are American values that, at least for the moment, are also manifestly German values and Japanese values and Norwegian and Swedish and Spanish and British values and Sri Lankan and Indian values—values that are, like the victims of the tsunami, simply human.
— Hendrik Hertzberg

carla

Sorry, that was from The New Yorker.

Evelyn

[Comments Removed for inappropriate content]

Karyn

If only I was given a super power. I would choose the "power to heal". I would immediately take all the pain from Nate (which showed in his eyes). Nate, I will hold you in my heart forever and pray that comfort will be yours.

JAM

I think that you are disgusting! How can you be so uterly horrible to somebody who's sharing their feelings? Nate told the world about what he's been through and all you can do is find something completely negative about it!You are a horrible person, who is completely insicure about yourself that you have to take it out on somebody that really doesn't need it! You definetely need theropy! I hope you find some soon before you make somebody elses life even harder than it already is!
Nate, I'd just like to say that you are extremely talented and I pray that you will get through this hard time.
My prayers to you,
JAM

Nessa

Nate is a beautiful person, inside and out. One can just see it. Though the faults and fakes of television. Nate is a good man. (And he is lovely to look at...) Sorry 18 moment... Anyway, I feel that the interview he did with Oprah was both meaningful and healing. In no way would Nate or Oprah manipulate this horrific story into some publicity stunt. Give me a break and get a heart. This man was so hurt- as where many other I understand that. But HE put a face to those people, a name... He insipired people to help not just him but EVERYONE sho is currently suffering.

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