The New York Times reported last week that Lance Armstrong was finally considering a confession. As you know, up to now, Armstrong has emphatically denied doping accusations. Yesterday the Oprah Winfrey Network announced that Oprah’s exclusive with Armstrong will air on January 17th, his first proper interview since being banned from cycling and losing all his titles. OWN describes that the 90 minute show will feature a “no holds barred” discussion between the two. Really? Oprah?
There is and will be no shortage of analysis of Armstrong’s intentions and whatever consequence that comes of his conversation with Oprah. But how about addressing what this might mean for her? You’ve already heard about how OWN wasn’t the smash hit she had hoped it would be. That the Oprah brand may not be as powerful as it once was. What then are the consequences for the Mighty O if she ends up coddling him, and letting him cry, instead of challenging him on his excuses and rationalisations or asking him to address what appears to be irrefutable evidence that he lied to a lot of people for a long, long time.
Do you remember when she bitchslapped James Frey in front of the world for A Million Little Pieces? You think she’s going to be as hard-ass on Lance Armstrong? I hope so. I want her to be. I would like to believe she will be fair but very, very firm. It’s just that...
There are some journalists who’ve been following this story from the beginning and even they’d have to spend several weeks re-reading the documentation, understanding the research, the science behind the allegations, the chronology of it, file after file after file. Not that the interview is a trial but, especially with this kind of discussion, given what Armstrong is being accused of, you need to know the information, have the facts at the ready, study the legal briefs, because then it allows you not to have to take his first answer, or his second, at face value.
Like, do you actually believe that Oprah is preparing for this the way, say, 60 Minutes would be preparing for it? Suuuuuure...
But then again, Armstrong didn’t agree to sit down with 60 Minutes; he chose Oprah for a reason. If she ends up soft-balling it then, does Oprah lose credibility? Should she? It’s one thing to let a movie star weep and moan through a confessional. Lance Armstrong though? That’s a much, much bigger situation and it demands a tougher O, if there is a tougher O.
Yours in gossip,