Thursday, January 17, 2013

SEEMS TO BE THE EASIEST WORD:  James Poniewozik, on tonight's spectacle aimed at getting all of us to figure out where OWN is on our digital cable systems:
[N]othing I could imagine Armstrong saying, meets any non-laughable moral definition of “sorry.” Sorry is not a famous, powerful man deciding belatedly to do the right thing in order to limit his losses.

...At some point in the history of these confessional interviews–Charlie Sheen, James Frey, and on and on back into the mists of disgrace–we’ve decided that the main purpose of these sitdown talks is the public display of contrition. You can blame the media in part, for selling high-profile interviews like this as primetime tearjerking personal dramas, and the interviewees and their consultants, for using this dynamic to their advantage.

So the interview becomes a performance. Did he turn things around? Did he seem sincere? Did he start to rehabilitate his image? Let’s ask a body-language expert!

But when we frame the sleazebag-apologia interview as mainly a p.r. exercise in showing remorse and winning redemption, the sleazebag has already won. Because it puts the interview on the friendlier, subjective ground of emotion and performance, which can be finessed and spun. It becomes like landing a difficult triple axel: if he pulls it off, it’s a success.
I'm not going to bother watching. As I've said here before:
As I suggested a few years back, to me there is a threshold of philanthropy which excuses just about any sin in one's professional life, and Armstrong (like Jerry Lewis) assuredly has passed it for me. If he doped in a sport in which everyone was doping, it's not something about which I feel terribly worked up. Just don't let him host SNL again.


  1. isaac_spaceman1:54 PM

    Armstrong (1) seems like a genuine grade-A asshole. He (2) has also spent a lot more time, energy, and money trying to do good in the world than most of us ever will. And he (3) was a faster bike rider over long distances, both in ridiculously steep mountains and on the flatter surfaces, than anybody else in history, including the drugged-up riders chasing him. A contrived, insincere apology doesn't change any of those three things, but neither would a heartfelt, sincere apology.

    Anyway, I'm pretty sure that the point of a public apology from pretty much any celebrity is just a required step in the process of sponsors/advertisers/employers approving continued remuneration to somebody who has engaged in any kind of misconduct. The sincerity and specificity of the apology is beside the point. It's just a box to tick. Too many examples to cite, but the best one is fictional: Dan Rydell.

  2. girard314:58 PM

    I won't be watching. I can rationalize him cheating in a sport rife with cheaters. I can rationalize him lying to protect his image. I cannot rationalize him throwing other cyclists under the bus because they dared to speak the truth. Like Isaac said, Armstrong is a grade-A asshole, and nothing will change that. This is a non-event.

  3. Slowlylu5:26 PM

    Yesterday I read an article at the Guardian about the retirement of Nicole Cooke an incredibly successful (Olympic, World and Tour de France and Giro Italia winner). It is well worth a read because she makes the point that point that Armstrong's cheating stopped a number of incredibly talented but clean riders from both winning and making money. Furthermore the withdrawal of sponsors from the Men's Tour de France did not harm the Men's tour but the Women's due to the trickle down affect.

    The idea that because Lance set up a charity for cancer somehow means he gets a pass for cheating, lying, intimidating witnesses and bribery seems wrong. Particularly as LiveStrong has been shown (see the January 2012 Article from Outdoor Magazine) to be not particularly effective in distributing funds to cancer research. Which is unlike Jerry Lewis' work with Muscular Dystrophy.

    Finally, a number of riders in Tours which Lance Armstrong "won" were clean including but not limited to Cadel Evans and Christopher Bassons.

    I couldn't have said it better than Linda Holmes in Monkey See this man needs to be disgraced and then ignored.

  4. MidwestAndrew6:04 PM

    You do not get a pass just because you do good. Joe Paterno did a lot of good with individuals and charities, etc. He was not a member of the Asshole Hall of Fame. Yet he was not awarded a pass for his cover-up sins. There is a price to be paid for fame earned on false pretenses (Kardashian family apparently notwithstanding). Armstrong's success outside of the sport was built on a series of broken rules, relationships and potentially more within the sport — and his cover up involved potential broken laws and more. I shed no tear for Lance Armstrong. He knew his day was coming, and now he's trying to save face. I'm only interested in seeing someone get their due comeuppance, but I doubt the Oprah interview will be that.