Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Gay has thankfully weighed in on the upcoming Lance Armstrong/Oprah Winfrey cable TV summit:
What Lance Wants From Oprah
I would like to go on Oprah. So would you. Don’t lie. Oprah is Oprah. Come on. It’s not just that Oprah Winfrey has led a life of extraordinary influence upon public behavior—propelling cultural phenomena, launching best-sellers, mainstreaming philosophies, changing the lives of politicians, authors, doctors, designers, gurus, ordinary joes. It’s also that Oprah is Oprah. She is a master of her medium, a friend, a confessional, fully in control, at peace in her own Oprah atmosphere. Oprah time is not harshly-lit, painful awkwardness. Oprah envelops you in Oprah-ness. She asks. You talk, because it’s Oprah Winfrey. And Oprah listens. This is comforting. Everyone wants to be listened to, and the fact that it’s Oprah doing the listening must be so seductive and affirming. I wouldn’t even need to have something important to say to Oprah to want to be on Oprah. I would happily sit on a couch and tell Oprah what I had for breakfast. I would talk to Oprah about my cat. She could elevate my banalities into symphonies. My breakfast would be the greatest breakfast that ever happened. My cat would get his own TV show.
So Lance Armstrong is going to talk to Oprah. Next Thursday, Jan. 17, on Winfrey’s channel, OWN. This should not surprise anyone. Armstrong is a public figure amid a consuming scandal and Winfrey offers a chance to reboot.
Rising and falling and attempting to rise again is the cardiac cycle of modern American life. And here’s where Oprah comes in. As the ESPN writer Don Van Natta Jr. posted on Twitter, “You don’t go on Oprah to confess. You go on Oprah to be forgiven.”
Exactly. That’s the same point Lee Siegel made six years ago in a New Republic piece headlined Thank You for Sharing.
Oprah Winfrey is the Authenticator. The ultimate empowerment machine: Victim to Victor.
Watch it happen for Lance Armstrong next week.