Source Newsroom: Wake Forest University
Armstrong: “Defensive and Deflective”
Wake Forest University expert available to discuss Armstrong’s confessional Oprah chat
(Winston-Salem, N.C., January 17, 2013) – Will Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey redeem him after years of denying he used performance enhancing drugs? Wake Forest University communications and public relations expert John Llewellyn says after seeing part one of the interview, the answer is no.
“Armstrong offered an ‘explanation’ and hinted at regret, but I heard nothing I’d consider an apology,” Llewellyn says. “A proper apology has three parts. It expresses regret, offers reparations and promises it won't happen again. Tonight was talk and allusions to actions. Real actions are yet to come and that will take more than chatting between two celebrities.”
As Associate Professor of Communication at Wake Forest University, Llewellyn studies and teaches rhetoric, analyzing persuasive language from the nation’s most prominent politicians, coaches and civil rights leaders. He’s also an expert on the public figure apology.
“Armstrong made very little admission of his level of conniving in all of this,” Llewellyn says. “He spent most of his time deflecting his role in the activities Oprah questioned. It’s better than silence, but nowhere close to what he’ll have to say or do to redeem himself.”
“It would be in his interest to get someone universally respected to oversee his plans for putting things right. Interestingly enough, Oprah is among the top ten in ‘most trusted American’ polls. Others include Tom Hanks, Colin Powell, Warren Buffett, Tom Brokaw and Bill Clinton,” Llewellyn says. “He needs a godfather or godmother that people will trust until they are willing to grant some trust to Armstrong himself. In that respect, talking with Oprah may be one step in that direction.”
On making amends:
“Armstrong says he is making amends, or reaching out, but we know nothing substantive abut those actions – either in quantity or quality. I’d be really interested to hear the stories and responses from the people he has harmed about those overtures. Right now all we have is his word that he has done so.”
On society’s focus on winning:
"As Americans, we link performance and character in ways for which there is no evidence. We think being physically gifted can make a person morally upright. It's a myth we cherish and Lance Armstrong drives a stake through it."
Llewellyn is available for interviews.
About Wake Forest University:
Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. The University’s graduate school of arts and sciences, divinity school, and nationally ranked schools of law, medicine and business enrich our intellectual environment. Learn more about Wake Forest University at www.wfu.edu.