PR Fail: Oprah Interview Hurt Lance Armstrong

We know, we know: you’re sick of hearing about Lance Armstrong. Trust us, we are too. Still, we thought we’d take a minute to report the results of the latest polls, because they reveal a couple of interesting things that happen to give us a bit of pleasure via schadenfreude:

First, people were actually growing more sympathetic toward Lance before Oprah indulged him:

  • Last October, 49% of Americans thought he should have to forfeit all his Tour de France medals.
  • That number had dropped to 37% a couple of weeks ago.
In other words, he was doing alright because, despite the fact that many people had begun to realize that he is a lying douche, some still wanted him to win in the end. But now? Not so much.*
  • Less than 25% of Americans think he has any chance of restoring his reputation after Oprah. This number held steady through multiple polls across the country.
  • Only 17% thought he was being “completely honest” in the interview.
  • Those who defended him in the past are especially angry about it now.

There’s still one tiny bright spot for Lance :

  • 52% of poll respondents think that he should have some kind of opportunity to compete again in the future.
  • But 45% think he should never be able to compete in anything ever again.
  • And 71% don’t think his ban should be rescinded anytime soon.

Another telling and somewhat troubling study found that, among athletes, cheaters who confess are no more likely to receive positive press than those who continue their denials. Anyone heard of Jose Canseco recently? A classic lesson in damage control/crisis communications: If your big public “confession” is predicated on a bunch of BS that doesn’t come anywhere close to telling the whole story, then you might as well just stick with the lie.


*Totally unrelated point: A majority of Americans who participated in that poll also felt that Manti Te’o was somehow involved in the fake, dead girlfriend hoax, because DUH.