There’s only one reason Lance Armstrong spoke to Oprah Winfrey this month: To begin the process of rehabilitating his image. Doing so, he hoped, would help pave his way back into competitive sports.
After all, if his goal had been merely to confess to doping, he could have just released a written statement, as he had so many times before.
Therefore, the effectiveness of his Oprah tell-all has to be judged in that context, of whether or not it helped to rehabilitate his image.
Worse, it did more damage than good, making his decision to appear with Oprah a disastrous one.
The Anderson Cooper clip below features video of one of Armstrong’s most shockingly awful moments.
A poll from my blog (admittedly unscientific) found that readers thought he did more harm than good in the interview. A more scientific poll, conducted by Survey USA
, mirrored this blog’s results, finding that only 17 percent of respondents thought he was being completely honest.
Among other reasons, Armstrong failed because:
1. He didn’t come across as contrite
. In my original review
of the interview, I noted that Armstrong seemed genuinely moved by the pain he had caused his family, but not terribly concerned with the pain he caused the many people he had bullied for many years. His attitude made many people, including me, wonder whether he is a sociopath
2. He still looked like a bully.
He laughed when asked about the wife of one former teammate, telling Oprah that although he had called her “crazy” and “a bitch,” he didn’t
call her “fat.” In another stunning moment, he admitted that he couldn’t remember everyone he had sued because he had sued so many people.
3. He may not have come clean.
Although Armstrong denied doping after 2005, there’s strong evidence that he’s still lying
. He also denied offering hush money to the anti-doping agency USADA, although officials claim he did
4. He sacrificed nothing.
As any parent knows, a bad act is usually followed by a commensurate punishment. Armstrong doesn’t seem to get that. He actually uttered this jaw-dropper to Oprah about whether he should be allowed to compete again: “I think I deserve it.”
Brad Phillips is author of the new book The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview. He blogs at Mr. Media Training.