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Friday, January 18, 2013

Updates on Armstrong\'s Oprah Interview

The Lede rounded up online reaction to Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey on Thursday night in real-time, with additional fact-checking and context provided by Juliet Macur, Sarah Lyall, Brian Stelter, David Carr and Robert Mackey. The second part of the interview is scheduled to be broadcast at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday and will be streamed live on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Web site.

11:58 P.M. |Video Highlights of the Armstrong Interview

The Oprah Winfrey Network has posted some video highlights from the interview on the broadcaster’sYouTube channel.

Video of Lance Armstrong admitting that he doped to win the Tour de France.
Lance Armstrong saying, “I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times.”
Lance Armstrong discusses the “cocktail” of drugs he used to boost his performance.

The Lede is wrapping up for the night, but join us Friday night for the next chapter of the soap opera that is the Lance Armstrong Saga.

â€" Robert M! ackey

11:09 P.M. |That’s Not All, Folks

Well folks, that was only the first half of the interview â€" actually, three-fifths, to be exact. Another hour of Oprah Winfrey’s conversation with Lance Armstrong will be shown on OWN on Friday night. A preview of Part 2 indicated that Armstrong would talk about his personal life and some of the financial effects of his past lies.

OWN originally said the edited interview would be a one-night affair, but immediately after Winfrey and Armstrong wrapped up on Monday afternoon, Winfrey and her colleagues decided to extend it to a second night. Doing so allowed the channel to sell more advertising and screen much more of the material for curious viewers. A cynic might say it also attracted more attention to Winfrey’s coup. Friday nightis traditionally a low-rated night for television networks â€" but maybe the combination of Armstrong and Winfrey will temporarily change that.

â€" Brian Stelter

10:47 P.M. |An Emotional Betsy Andreu Reacts on CNN

Betsy Andreu, the wife of one of Armstrong’s former teammates, is reflecting on the interview on CNN and is generally not impressed by what she heard. She is particularly enraged that Armstrong failed to admit that he did tell doctors in a hospital room in 1996 that he had used performance-enhancing drugs before he got cancer. She says that Armstrong mumbled something about “legal” reasons for not wanting to admit that in a recent telephone conversation. Still she seems stunned that he did not answer Winfrey’s d! irect que! stion about the incident.

The Race Radio, one of the many cycling bloggers watching tonight’s interview, suggested that Armstrong would not want to admit that he made the hospital room confession since he might not be the only one who lied under oath about that conversation if it did transpire as Betsy and Frankie Andreu said it did.

The same blogger, and several others who played an important role in connecting the dots on Armstrong’s doping when much of the cycling press was compliant, voiced their support for Andreu’s “righteous anger.â

! At the en! d of the CNN segment, Jeffrey Toobin, the legal analyst, suggested that Armstrong is in “big trouble” in terms of civil lawsuits. Armstrong, “supposedly he has a hundred million dollars” Toobin says. “He’s going to have a lot less than a hundred million dollars when this is all over.”

â€" Robert Mackey

10:24 P.M. |Dodging the Hospital Room Confession

Disappointing that Armstrong did not address the hospital room confession that Betsy and Frankie Andreu said they heard in 1996, when they were visiting him as he fought cancer. He said he didn’t want to “go there.” But why Earlier Thursday, Betsy Andreu had heard that he didn’t address the hospital room incident and was furious. She has stuck by her account that Armstrong tol two doctors in that hospital room that he had used testosterone, steroids, growth hormone, cortisone and EPO. Tonight, she was waiting for him to confirm that she and her husband had been telling the truth about that confession all these many years. She didn’t get that confirmation.

The bike racers and cartoonists Andy Shen and Dan Schmalz, who blog as @nyvelocity and know Betsy Andreu, also confirmed her anger.

â€" Juliet Macur

1! 0:21 P.M.. |The Insults Armstrong Hurled at Women

Armstrong is again keeping himself at arm’s length from the things he did, as if he is poking at them with a stick from somewhere across town. Emma O’Reilly, the masseuse he accused of being a lying prostitute after she revealed details about his doping habits “She’s one of those people I have to apologize to.” O.K., so apologize! (Weird linguistic decision: Oprah just accused him of using the “whore word” in reference to O’Reilly â€" she finds whore easier to say than prostitute)

Meanwhile, Armstrong has some weird attitudes when it comes to women. In defense of his “whore word” offense against O’Reilly, he says, “I was on the attack, territory being threatened” - as if it was some kind of alpha-dog issue here, and who cares what you call people when you are defending your “territory”

Also: Did he think he was making a humorous remark when he said of Betsy Andreu, the wife of oneof his former teammates, that although he called her crazy, he never called her fat Ha ha

â€" Sarah Lyall

10:21 P.M. |‘I Never Called You Fat’

Armstrong injects a strange note into his description of apologizing to Betsy Andreu, the wife of a former teammate who was among the first to testify to Armstrong’s doping. He admits that he called her crazy in an attempt to! discredit! her, and other names, but he says he assured her in a recent phone call, “I never called you fat.” It seemed like an attempt to introduce some levity into the conversation, but one that failed, badly.

More important, Armstrong refused to answer Winfrey’s direct question about whether the Andreus’ main claim â€" that they heard him admit to doctors during cancer treatment in 1996 that he had used a host of banned drugs before being stricken with the illness â€" was true or not.

â€" Robert Mackey

10:13 P.M. |Armstrong Admits He Covered Up Failed Test in 1999 Tour

Armstrong apologized to Emma O’Reilly, the former Postal Service team’s masseuse, but Winfrey should have pointed out to what extnt Armstrong had bullied her. He said he sued her, but he neglected to apologize for calling her a prostitute and an alcoholic. He did, however, admit that he tested positive for cortisone at the 1999 Tour and had a team doctor backdate a prescription. He then said he used the cortisone for saddle sores that, as it turned out, never existed. O’Reilly had pointed that out a long, long time ago in David Walsh’s book, L.A. Confidentiel.”

â€" Juliet Macur

10:05 P.M. |Apologies to Those Armstrong Branded as Liars

The abjectness of Lance Armstrong’s interview is a remarkable moment in sport. Oprah Winfrey’s gambit of askin! g yes-and! -no questions to begin the interview allowed her to create a very solid foundation of truth in a story that has been a wilderness of lies.

What many people familiar with the story are going to be waiting for is not an admission of doping - that was stipulated from the start - but a specific apology for the lives he ruined in order to keep his secret a secret. His career was maintained and built by destroying not just fellow riders, but their spouses as well as he did in the instance of Frankie Andreu, a former teammate and his wife, Betsy. As the United States Anti-Doping Agency report put it, “This evidence provides a strong indication that Armstrong intentionally vilified a longtime friend and his friend’s wife merely to protect himself.”

What many people in the biking community most resent about Mr. Amrstrong was his willingness to destroy others to protect himself. While others likely doped, few went after fellow athletes as Mr. Armstrong did. In the interview with Ms. Winfrey on Thursay night, he acknowledged being a bully, but he has yet to say he was sorry to most of the people he victimized. Perhaps that is something that will be deal with in the second part of the interview, which will be broadcast on Friday night.

In the context of turns in the Oprah confessional, Mr. Armstrong’s interview stands out, perhaps because of the sharpness of the reversal and the remarkably bad set of facts that he has in front of him.

Many people in sport and public life have admitted to making mistakes, very few have had to admit so directly that they were bad people as Mr. Armstrong has.

Did you feel bad about all of it

“No, that is the scariest part.”

â€" David Carr

9:59 P.M. |On Oprah’s Performance

Let us now talk about Oprah. ! She is cl! early well prepared, but until now her questions have been less sharp than they might be, and she has been letting Armstrong get away with all kinds of mealy-mouthed dissembling, asking questions and not really following through. She is toughening up a little now and expressing active skepticism. What she has to do is function as a stand-in for all of us, the angry and disillusioned public who wanted to believe Armstrong was an honest person all those years, and not the jerk he now appears to be. Oprah is clearly extremely happy to have landed this interview, but that doesn’t mean she should pull her punches.

Also, is it my imagination, or are the spaces between commercial breaks getting shorter each time

â€" Sarah Lyall

9:54 P.M. |Roll Tape of Armstrong Lyng Under Oath

What Winfrey failed to do is press Armstrong about his testimony in the SCA Promotions case. Did he lie about Ferrari then Yes. About many other things Yes. She should have pushed him to admit that he lied under oath and broke the law in an effort to hide his doping past. That’s how far he was willing to go.

â€" Juliet Macur

9:47 P.M. |Armstrong Claims He Didn’t Cheat by Cheating

Pressed by Winfrey to say how he felt while cheating by taking performance-enhancing drugs, Armst! rong drop! s something of a bombshell: claiming that he did not consider what he did cheating because the people he was racing against were also doping. It was, he says, “a level playing field.” One of Armstrong’s former teammates, Jonathan Vaughters, who went on to found a team devoted to racing clean, explained to The Lede last year that doping did more to skew the playing field than to level it.

Another former teammate, Tyler Hamilton, wrote in his book “The Secret Race” that Armstrong was dedicated to doping in more sophisticated ways than his rivals and made sure to sign exclusive deals with the best doping doctors in the sport.

â€" Robert Mackey

9:47 P.M! . |Oddly Abstract Answers

Listen to how Armstrong is responding to these questions! When asked if he ordered people to dope, he goes oddly abstract, saying “There was never a direct order - that never happened.” He speaks of “that defiance, that attitude, that arrogance,” as if he is speaking about someone else entirely. (This reminds me of the moment in a criminal trial when the criminal is confronted with the blatant evidence of his murder/assault/fraud - he cannot deny it, but he does not want to be directly associated with it, either.) Armstrong feels more comfortable talking about how his childhood and his cancer turned him into a scrappy, fighting guy who likes to win at all costs. It is very interesting to see which topics make him relaxed, and which do not. Some of this is making him physically fold up into himself, like a jittery umbrella.

â€" Sarah Lyall

9:43 P.M. |Armstrong Admits Being ‘a Bully’

Have to give Armstrong some kudos for admitting that he was a bully pretty much his whole life, that he said people were lying and were liars if they didn’t conform to his narrative. But wait, a minute later he said he wasn’t a bully until after he came back to cycling from his cancer. To me, it seems more likely true that he was a bully his whole life because he has always felt that he had his “back against the wall” since growing up with a young, single mother. “We were fighters,” he said to Winfrey.

But at times, he has seemed humbled. He just admitted that he was both a “jerk and humanitarian,” and that he looks back now and cringes at himself as “an arrogant” jerk. That takes some guts to say to millions of people tuning in.

â€" Juliet Macur

9:26 P.M. |A Strangely Disjointed Account

Armstrong is indeed nervous â€" his account of himself is strangely disjointed, he is smiling in a creepy way at inappropriate times, and though he has had a lot of time to get his story straight, he does not seem to have a very coherent narrative â€" but he also seems oddly removed from what is going on. (Perhaps he has not doped, but raided the beta-blocker/anti-anxiety pill section of his medicine cabinet) He is practically talking about himself in the third person, referring to the “mythic perfect story” and saying that the story has become “so bad, so toxic.” But of course “the story” is not a separate thing at all.

â€" Sarah Lyall

9:24 P.M. |Armstrong Denies Doping During Comeback
Lance Armstrong was confronted by the Irish journalist Paul Kimmage at a news conference before the Amgen Tour of California in 2009.

Armstrong said he wasn’t doping when he made his comeback to cycling in 2009. Why, then, did he still give payments to Michele Ferrari, the Italian sports doctor who famously said taking EPO was as safe as drinking orange juice

Also, Armstrong said his doping program was conservative and simple. If a complex cover-up of drug use, including evading drug testers and doctors administering banned drugs, is conservative and simple, what were th! e other t! eams doing Driving around the Tour with a pharmacy

Fans and journalists watching the interview broadcast were not convinced.

â€" Juliet Macur

9:19 P.M. |Armstrong Denies Leading Doping Conspiracy

Lance just said he wasn’t the kingpin of the doping of his team. But many teammates â€" including many, if not all of the 11 who testified against him in the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s report - would disagree. Christian Vande Velde said Armstrong threatened him with losing his job with the Postal Service team unless he got on the doping program run by the infamous Italian doctor Michele Ferrari. His teammates said Armstrong demanded that others dope so they could help him win. Frankie Andreu, the former Postal Service team captain, said he was cut from the team because he was “too cheap” to be on Ferrari’s program. He just wasn’t serious enough about what Armstrong called “his preparation,” Andreu said. Andreu took that to mean he wasn’t following Ferrari’s program and wasn’t doping enough.

â€" Juliet Macur

9:15 P.M. |‘What Channel Is OWN’ Searches Spike

There’s been a big spike in Google searches today for the phrase “what channel is OWN,” since many people will be seeking out Oprah Winfrey’s channel for the first time for the Armstrong interview on Thursday night.

Finding the channel has been a challenge ever since it came onto television in January 2011. This week OWN took out print and Internet ads to tell viewers about its online “channel finder” tool.

OWN is also streamin! g the tape! d interview on Oprah.com when it starts on television at 9 p.m. Eastern. The Web stream is mainly intended for international viewers, but it’s accessible within the United States as well.

This interview, an OWN executive said Thursday, most likely represents tens of millions of dollars in free marketing, calling the value “almost incalculable.” In the hour before the interview, OWN kept a countdown clock on the screen to heighten the anticipation of viewers.

â€" Brian Stelter

9:13 P.M. |A Nervous Armstrong

I’ve seen Lance Armstrong under pressure many times - at news conferences, the Tour de France and under very hot questioning from reporters - but I have never seen him this nervous. As Oprah Winfrey asked him questions about he doped, he looked like he was nuseated. And does he have more gray hair than ever It seems like hundreds of grays have sprouted since we last saw him in public last October.

But he said, I didn’t have access to drugs that other people did not. Not true. He had the best doctors, the most money and the most support of any rider of his generation when it came to covering up his doping. He had the most help from his team officials and officials in the sport of cycling than anyone else.

â€" Juliet Macur

9:11 P.M. |(How) Is Armstrong Sorry

Earlier today, Rick Reilly of ESPN, who defended Armstrong for years against accusations of doping, wrote that he received an e-mail on Wednesday from the former cyclist t! hat read:!

Riles, I’m sorry.

All I can say for now but also the most heartfelt thing too. Two very important words.


My colleague and live-blogging companion Juliet Macur has compiled a great list of doping-related questions she hopes Armstrong will address in his interview. But here are some other things I would like answered: Is Armstrong genuinely sorry for doping and lying, or is he just sorry he got caught and banned from competition If he is sorry, how sorry is he, exactly How sorry does he have to be for the public he lied to, for the critics whose lives he made miserable, for the people who wanted to believe him - how sorry does he have to be to deserve our forgiveness Is what he did even forgivable

â€" Sarah Lyall

9:07 P.M. |Armstrong Admits Doping Throughout His Career

Right at the top of the interview, Oprah asked Lance Armstrong to say, yes or no, if he used banned substances, including the blood-boosting agent EPO, and transfusing his own blood to get an edge in all seven of his Tour de France victories. He says “yes,” to each question.

Earlier on Thursday, The Associated Press released this edit of Armstrong’s previous denials over the years.

8:58 P! .M. |Cramming for the Big Interview

Lance Armstrong and Oprah Winfrey, through the eyes of Taiwanese animators.

We are just minutes away from the broadcast of the first part of Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. Although the interview was recorded earlier this week, little about it has been leaked so far, except that the disgraced cyclist did make an admission of some sort about doping to win the Tour de France, after years of denying that allegation.

Readers coming late to the story still have time to speed-read a few background pieces from our colleagues.

A good place to start is with Juliet Macur’s list of tough questions that Oprah should have asked Armsrong if she really wanted to dive deep.

Earlier in the week, David Carr explained that the Oprah interview/confession has become a time-honored ritual of American life.

Then there’s also Thursday’s Gail Collins column on “The Point of Lance,” in which she observed:

The denial stage is scheduled to come to an end Thursday in an Oprah interview. After which we will discuss whether Armstrong can be forgiven.

We can certainly grant him absolution as a human being, but he appears to be in the market for forgiveness as a celebrity. And, really, once you get past the now-demolished race record, there’s not much point to Lance Armstrong, Famous Person. He has no other talents. He isn’t particularly lovable. He was once cited for using 330,000 gallons! of water! at his Texas home in a month when his neighbors were being asked to conserve by cutting back on their car-washing. He left his wife, got engaged to the singer Sheryl Crow. He said he broke up with Sheryl Crow because of her “biological clock.”

We will also be following the reaction of a number of cycling bloggers, including the New Yorkers who write as @nyvelocity on Twitter.

â€" Robert Mackey