Hey, welcome to a new reality media world of Media Vampires vs. Cheaters. It is not the worst reality show yet conceived, but it is in the top tier.
In a much hyped and anticipated interview with legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong, he finally admitted to using banned drugs during his cycling career, and the media vampires readily seemed to revel in yet another’s missteps.
Newspapers had running blogs on Armstrong’s revelations. Talk radio guzzled up the long-awaited revelation. Television sports and news shows devoted precious chunks of time to dissecting an interview that was still airing opposite their own programming.
To Oprah’s credit she had a lot riding on that interview: increased viewership for her OWN network increased advertising revenue for the network’s shows, and perhaps the greatest public spotlight she has had since her talk show ended in 2011. OWN has been through many struggles since it launched, but Thursday’s interview provided Oprah with a crucial chance for a wider audience to tune in.
Oprah using her Grandmotherly persuasion, and, her wily communications guile set the tone throughout not angrily or very heated, but she did manage to be gently prosecutorial overall.
“Oprah is doing a remarkable job,” ESPN’s Don Van Natta, Jr. wrote. “Simple, direct questions. She has done her homework. And she’s getting out of the way.”
There were exceptions to the praise. Newsday critic Verne Gay, for one, thought Oprah was not being nearly hard enough on Armstrong. The New York Times’ Sarah Lyall also wrote halfway through the interview that “her questions have been less sharp than they might be.”
I say what the heck is the big deal? I know there are many that will knock me down because of this, but the utopian attitude and expectation toward athletes is ridiculous. Movie and musicians that we all admire are the worst drug, marriage and insane behavior people of all times.
But no one is calling for them to never make a movie again or boycott their music or picture premiere.
To me all Armstrong did was peddle a bike – albeit very good. Still it is not the biggest achievement in world history. Now if he had invented a cure for cancer, invented toilet paper or built an inter-galactic spaceship, that would be impressive. But just ride a bike over some very tall mountains? Come on man!! I ride a bike, billions of people ride bikes. Big deal. It is just entertainment!!!!
Others are saying that “Armstrong is a total Disgrace. Just another cheat and a liar and he really should lose everything.” Some people are hoping hope he gets hit hard from all angles and loses everything.
I say there is not much we can “hold him accountable for.” It’s clear now that EVERYONE was doping. Anyone who won just about any race between the mid 90’s until 2005 when Lance first retired was likely doping. The USADA has made the case that you can’t have won a race during that period, or the Olympics unless you were doping. He can be held accountable for lying under oath which he seems to have admitted. He’ll pay back a little money but I sure he will still be rich and he’ll have still raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer patients and research!
Armstrong won the world famous Tour de France a record seven consecutive times between 1999 and 2005, but in 2012 he was disqualified from all his results since August 1998 for using and distributing performance-enhancing drugs and was banned from professional cycling for life.
Armstrong did not appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He repeatedly denied doping, until he admitted in Oprah’s television interview.
In October 1996, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs. His cancer treatments included brain and testicular surgery and extensive chemotherapy. In February 1997, he was declared cancer-free and the same year he founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation for cancer support. By January 1998, Armstrong had renewed serious cycling training, having signed a new racing contract with US Postal. He was a member of the US Postal/Discovery team between 1998 and 2005.
Armstrong has raised million for cancer research, but the vampire reality media digs the story too much to let real world things come into the focus.
Leland Stein can be reached at email@example.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII