Hats off to Oprah whose face said it all while Lance at times was left speechless


TV VIEW:With the sound down, you’d have sensed Oprah would have liked to put Lance in a mincer, writes MARY HANNIGAN

Not much left to be said really, David Frost’s chat with Richard Nixon probably wasn’t dissected and analysed quite as much, but if you were fair about it all, despite any pre-conceived sceptical notions you might have had – yes, yes: “Guilty m’lud” – you could only stand up from your couch and applaud at the end.

Livestrong: The legend’s reputation was restored.

Oprah’s, that is.

True, not everyone agrees that Winfrey did a good job in her heart-to-heart with Lance Armstrong; more than a few were left banging their heads against any available brick wall over her failure to pose some blindingly obvious follow-up questions. But aside from that, hats off.

Why exactly? Largely because of the look on her face through much of the interview. That was more than plenty, as her faithful followers couldn’t but have noted. If you turned the sound down, and that was tempting at times when The Fraudster emoted, and just focused on the images, you’d have sensed our Oprah would have quite liked to place the man in a mincer.

Her face didn’t quite read “you snivelling fake toerag”, but at times it wasn’t far off. So, for that, she must be saluted.

“You know what I hope the moral to this story is,” she said, to him at the end. “It’s what Kristin [his ex-wife] told you: the truth will set you free.”

Armstrong was, briefly, left speechless – and with Armstrong, speechlessness is only ever brief – those jaw muscles flexing anxiously again.

Not expected

This wasn’t, you’d have to assume, quite what he had expected when he opted to honour Oprah with a chat, his PR team, perhaps, convincing him that she’d sit there tilty-headed, telling him that, at heart, he was still a totally beautiful human being. Ooops.

And then there was that handshake at the end – Oprah’s embrace, from this vantage point at least, seeming as warm as your average midday in Antarctica.

Even when she told him about an email she had received from a parent of a cancer-suffering child, who was inspired by Armstrong, she prefaced it by telling him the parent said: “I have heard that he is a real jerk.”

The chances of Oprah going in to, say, the finer details of The Fraudster’s relationship with Dr Ferrari were always going to be slim, not least because questioning along that line was hardly going to tickle the ivories of the OWN channel audience. Ratings, m’lud.

The highlight, of course, was when he said he “looked up the definition of cheat” in a dictionary, like he wasn’t familiar with the concept, and all you could hope is that when he looks it up next time it’ll say “eg Lance Armstrong”.

The Fraudster’s flexing muscles almost busted out of his jaw when Oprah asked him if he owed David Walsh an apology – but the overwhelmingly awful reviews poor Lance received in the US after the interview add weight to the notion that the non-tilty-headed Oprah might just have done a half-decent job.

Mind you, Armstrong wasn’t the only sporting Texan who sullied our screens in the last week. Clint Dempsey’s injury time equaliser for Spurs at White Hart Lane yesterday was as ugly a sight as any.

Still, that was nothing compared to the drama in the Lager Cup yesterday; Munster looking pained as they took to the pitch at Thomond Park in the full knowledge that success for them would banjax Leinster. You know, brothers in arms. “Imminent doom is one of Munster’s great motivators,” Frankie Sheahan told us on Sky’s red button, the channel relegating their clash with Racing Metro to digital netherland, further motivation, you can be sure, for the boys in red.

A Simon Zebo hat-trick later and Leinster were as good as done and dusted, although the abacus still had work to do. Frankie and Thomond Park reached for the dictionary. “Celebration: The action of marking one’s pleasure at an important event or occasion by engaging in enjoyable, typically social, activity.” Party time.

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