Touchy-feely Oprah unlikely to ask Lance those tough questions
TIPPING POINT:Many pertinent questions need to be pitched at Lance Armstrong when his eagerly awaited interview with Oprah Winfrey airs on Thursday.
But only one is likely to be definitively answered: will Lance blubber?
He doesn’t seem like a weeper, but he might be contractually obliged to squeeze the old ducts just a little. After all it’s that kind of show. In journalese, they’re known as many things, the most printable of which is puff pieces. It’s where a person agrees to be interviewed in return for an easy ride.
Thus you get Sunday newspaper pieces about the elegant, resilient woman in Dior who wept tears of bitter regret as she plunged the kitchen knife into her husband’s eye. Or the enigmatically masculine businessman, creator of hundreds of jobs, and charity mainstay, who parked outside the girls’ school every day out of total coincidence.
The pay-off for the media outlet that engages in such editorial spooning is exclusivity. There can’t be a hack in the game that hasn’t at some stage had to hold their nose and churn out shinola on questionable characters that end up flexibly described as “individual” or “complicated” instead of what they often really are: Grade A Turds.
And that happens because in this lark, just as in sport, first wins and seconds come nowhere. Hacks know this. So do the Turds. One hand ends up moisturising the other. Mind you, the competition gets to subsequently lash out at the fatuousness of said puff pieces, while using the fresh quotes for their own agenda. So everyone’s happy really: except perhaps the reader/listener/viewer confronted with a morass of manipulated media molasses.
So that’s the game being played ahead of this week’s Lance Oprah show. She gets exclusivity and he gets to answer questions about his feelings. Already there are reports that Armstrong will admit to doping but is unwilling to pursue the matter in detail. Since doping is what it’s all about, that’s a bit like Frost/Nixon ignoring Watergate.
As for any insight into how the “most sophisticated doping conspiracy” the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) has seen might have been facilitated by cycling officialdom, don’t hold your breath.
No, the only smoking gun will be the metaphorical one in your mouth after grimly watching to the end and realising Oprah ain’t no Paxman. Which is why she gets the guest.
Lance would be into the hills quicker than a Colombian mountain goat if Paxo was to conduct a live interview. That’s not what Thursday is about. If Paxo’s about sneers, Oprah is about tears, lots of them. Guess who gets watched more? That’s modern TV’s soft-core hard currency. These intensely choreographed shows always end up being more about the interviewer than the interviewee.