Source Newsroom: Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University expert available to discuss Armstrong’s confessional Oprah chat
(Winston-Salem, N.C., January 15, 2013) – Will an interview with Oprah Winfrey be the apology that disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong needs for redemption? Wake Forest University communications and public relations expert John Llewellyn takes a dim view, likening Armstrong's actions to corruption on Wall Street.
"He's like Bernie Madoff on a bike. He harmed his teammates for years and helped ruin an entire sport. There's no way to get back what has been taken from them. Thousands of people who believed his lies are taking it in the knees."
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 has faked sincerity for years. This is all talk,” Llewellyn says. “His tear stains on Oprah’s couch aren’t credible. The thing he’s apologizing for is that every word has been a lie for two decades. Now we’re supposed to believe he’s telling the truth?”
On Armstrong’s reported confession:
"A proper apology has three parts. It expresses regret, offers reparations and promises it won't happen again. But Lance Armstrong will be hard to believe since he has spent decades vehemently denying he was doping. He and his attorneys seem to have carefully calculated the statute of limitations, so what will he do to pay for his actions? And thirdly, after spending so many years cheating, how can he promise it won't happen again with any credibility?"
“It’s a made-for-TV confessional after savaging the truth for decades. It’s disturbing that once a celebrity like Armstrong decides to apologize to us and tell the truth, we’re supposed to recalibrate our values and forgive him.”
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."
“It's all about winning no matter how you win. If you look at insider trading, for example, the rewards are so great and the perceived chance of being caught is so small. Armstrong was totally focused on winning and his actions said that rules and regulations are for suckers – not for him."
Llewellyn is available for telephone 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.