Tomorrow night, a riveted world will be glued to their TV sets to watch the much-hyped Oprah interview with Lance Armstrong. Virtually before the interview was completed, Oprah and her people were already teasing the interview to every media outlet that would listen in an effort to achieve a ratings boost for her struggling OWN Network.
Whether the interview delivers on its promise to finally put to rest Armstrong’s admission that he “doped” to achieve his world-class athletic abilities, is yet to be seen. But one thing is is for certain. Armstrong didn’t choose to talk to Oprah by accident.
This is another case of a media strategy to deliver a newsworthy message via a softball interview. 60 Minutes would have been the appropriate forum for Armstrong to finally come clean, if that is what he intends to do, but obviously he doesn’t want to be put through the ringer by a real reporter. Instead he has opted like so many public figures, to deliver his message virtually unchallenged. He apparently thinks Oprah will be softer on him than Anderson Cooper would be.
This is not a bad PR strategy. Controlling the message is critical in this day and age. The real story here is why he is talking now. Some suggest that statute of limitations has passed for litigation. Yet others have announced lawsuits at the ready when they hear his admission.
It seems that his primary motivation has less to do with money and athletics and more to do with ego. For decades he was the center of attention, adulation heaped on him everywhere he went. But no more. The questions about his credibility persist and his days of cycling are over. Apparently he yearns for the spotlight once more, to talk about himself and perhaps resurrect the hero image he once wore with pride.
If appearing on Oprah does that, he has achieved his goal. If not, the only recognition he will receive will be in front of a judge.