By Ken Tucker
April 20, 2010 at 09:03 PM EDT

Oprah Winfrey said on today’s show she “had reservations” about interviewing Nadya Suleman and thereby joining the Octomom media coverage — until she got a letter from Suleman saying the Octomom wanted the world “to see her for who she is.”

Who she is, to my eyes after watching Oprah, is a woman with a shaky grasp on reality, to put it politely.

Oprah sent a camera crew to Suleman’s house, Winfrey getting laughs from her audience when she implied she didn’t want to get anywhere near Suleman herself. What we saw was sheer chaos and craziness: kids weeping and ignored for minutes on end (at the least), Suleman rushing around with the help of a few friends and nannies, trying to get them fed and bathed while getting no sleep in a 24-hour period when the Oprah crew was present.

Interviewed by Winfrey via satellite, Suleman said the 14 children came from “my own childish desires… selfish and immature.” She feels “a tremendous amount of guilt” for accepting $100,000 for a bikini photo shoot for a tabloid magazine. Suleman confirmed that she’d been offered a role in a porn film “three times,” something she said she found “disrespectful.” She deplored the paparazzi for following her and turning her life into “a carnival attraction.”

Yet there she was, running around in careful make-up and low-cut t-shirts, pushing giant strollers to a public park for a few minutes of playtime with the children. It’s a wonder ordinary citizens who aren’t pararazzi don’t follow her just to see whether she’ll drop a few kids when she crosses the street, talking nonstop. You’d think by now she’d have figured out that her ostentatious public displays — including appearing on Oprah, for which the host said, she was not paid “a dime” — just prolong the carnival atmosphere.

Suleman never really answered Oprah’s question about how she can provide for her brood. She said she was “not on government help” and had used “food stamps for one year” but no more. Winfrey asked whether she felt the only way she could support her family was to “make money through the media.”

Yes, said Suleman, “unfortunately.” Yet she also said she’d “never do a reality show,” which she labeled “borderline abusive.” But the income question was left unanswered.

As she proved when she appeared on The View and on last summer’s Fox special Octomom: The Incredible Unseen Footage, Suleman can talk rapidly and articulately… about nothing. She babbles. She speaks in jargon (“I journal at four or five in the morning”; “I face external stressers”), perhaps derived from the master’s degree she says she’s still trying attain in counseling (!). She repeats the same things over and over.

Ultimately, I think Oprah probably should have heeded her good instincts and reservations about interviewing Suleman. While Winfrey herself conducted a sensible, tough-minded interview, she was dealing with someone for whom common sense is as foreign as a good night’s sleep.

What do you think of Suleman’s Oprah appearance?