Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong finally admitted what many had long suspected: He was doping. Armstrong, who had his seven Tour de France titles stripped and was forced to leave his Livestrong Foundation after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued a report concluding he had used illegal substances, confessed during an interview with Oprah on Monday.
At least, according to Oprah he did.
But you’ll have to wait to see for sure when the interview airs later this week. Because the point of this pseudo-event is, in the end, all about drumming up television ratings. It’s really just a “charade,” to borrow the phrase Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Dwyre uses to describe the spectacle.
Bill Dwyre in the L.A. Times:
See this for what it is. This is not about the truth. It’s about TV ratings. It is a branding and marketing bonanza for Oprah. For Armstrong, the big question is: After decades of being dirty, this is how you come clean?
...This charade should cause an outcry. It is orchestrated manipulation of serious news and an affront to a public that adored and admired him for his athletic feats and charitable use of his celebrity. We weren’t very happy with baseball stars such as Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez when they, after years of denying or ducking the issue, admitted steroid use. But at least they came clean to reporters whose job it is to ask the things the public deserves to know. No hankies or couches. Just the cold truth.
Armstrong should be doing this in a big room filled with people with journalistic chops and the experience and inclination to use them. We have more than a handful of Pulitzer Prize winners in the L.A. Times newsroom willing and able. The New York Times and Washington Post could fill the room with capable reporters. CNN has plenty. The TV networks too.