Less than two weeks after Ethics Alarms wrote about the ethics-free deliberations in the Lance Armstrong camp about whether or not to finally tell the truth and “apologize,” Armstrong prostrated himself in a 90 minute confession to Oprah Winfrey, who has branded herself as America’s confessor, capable of washing away sin and shame with a hug, a tear, and a stern word.
It makes me want to vomit, frankly.
I saw this coming, of course, as did you. One thing we could count on with Lance (and Bill, and Pete, whose odious club Armstrong joins with the Oprah tactic) was that he would do whatever was necessary to benefit him. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in common with a genuine confession and a real apology in Armstrong’s 180 degree reversal with Oprah, or in the necessary preparations for it he engaged in, like apologizing to the cycling community and the Livestrong staff. When Armstrong thought he could continue to fool some of the people all the time by lying, posturing, and viciously attacking—sometimes with lawsuits—those who he knew were telling the truth about his cheating, he continued to lie. Now that the jig is up and he has no other options, he’s going to come clean and weep softly with the Big O. Sociopaths are usually very good actors. Some of them have won Academy Awards.
You can watch this despicable and cynical exercise if you want; personally, I’d rather stick a fork in my eye. Armstrong is using Oprah to gull the gullible one more time, and lure back a critical mass of his former admirers (“He said he was sorry! What more do you want? Don’t you believe in contrition and forgiveness? Isn’t America about second chances?” The toilet beckons.), and Oprah will be using Lance to bolster the sagging ratings of her cable network. She doesn’t care if she gives a public predator a second chance—a second chance to lie, cheat, steal, and warp the values of the young. It’s all business and bucks to Oprah. Maybe she’ll hug and forgive him. Maybe she’ll give him a tongue-lashing like she did when she ambushed fake autobiographer James Frey, so the soft-hearted and mushy-headed can can say of Lance, “He’s suffered enough!” I don’t care, and neither should anyone else. The best outcome for sport, ethics, television and America would be if nobody watched or paid attention to these two shameless opportunists feeding off one another.
If you want to see what a real confession and apology look like, watch the 2012 Denzel Washington film “Flight,” which got Washington a deserved Academy Award nomination. The movie has a lot of flaws, but at its core it is about the life and character rot alcoholics endure while they are trying to meet their responsibilities and sinking deeper and deeper into a deadly dependency on booze.
Spoiler alert—and this will spoil the movie if you haven’t seen it!
At the climax of the film, Washington, a brilliant commercial pilot who has flown for years with an alcohol addiction and cocaine habit (to counter the effects of being drunk), faces a government inquiry about his role in a plane crash in which six people died, but that all investigators concur would have been a total catastrophe had he not handled the emergency so skillfully. Knowing that he would be testifying in the morning under oath (and lying) both to save his license and to keep his airline from a ruinous lawsuit, Washington still can’t stay sober the night before, and requires an AM cocaine cocktail to even make it into the hearing room. Thus fortified, he answers the tough questioning admirably, and is one response away from total victory. Soon he will have exoneration, reinstatement, and a return to his double-life as a drunk who takes the lives of unsuspecting and trusting passengers in his hands every day, as he rationalizes to himself that it is okay because he is special. Then, suddenly, as the last question requires him to sully the reputation of a dead stewardess to save himself, Washington’s character stuns the panel and the spectators with a spontaneous admission. He is an alcoholic, he says. He was drunk when the plane he was flying crashed. He is drunk right now, at the hearing.
And he goes to jail.
That is the confession of a man who has a conscience, isn’t a sociopath, and who has earned, eventually, forgiveness and a second chance at trust. That kind of confession is so far beyond the comprehension of a man like Lance Armstrong that I can imagine him watching Washington’s moment of truth, smacking his head with his palm and exclaiming, “What an idiot! And what a stupid movie! Nobody would do that!”
Well, we know you wouldn’t Lance.
Source: Washington Post