For the first time in my life, I watched the Oprah Winfrey Network this week.
Of course, the subject was the Lance Armstrong interview which was hyped like nothing else on Oprah's fledgling network.
Unfortunately, as of this writing on Friday morning, I only was able to watch the first part of the interview. I had no idea it was going to be in two parts, so I already know what I did on Friday night.
I will be the first to say I have to fall on the sword when it comes to Armstrong. I wrote a column a while back about this very subject.
It was actually a bit of a tongue-in-cheek offering where I used many Sheryl Crow references. But the point of my column then was not about Sheryl Crow. It was about the absurdity the cycling culture.
Though I think Armstrong is a disgrace and deserves no sympathy whatsoever, the interview did confirm a lot of what I thought about cycling. It seems very clear that gaming and cheating the system was a way of life for these people.
Armstrong admitted he had no shame at the time and didn't even feel like he was cheating. Apparently his justification was it was part of the how business was conducted.
He's probably right on that front. Since everyone, according to him, was doing it, that made it all right.
That's not the way it should work, however, that seems to be the case.
But I want to get off of the focus on Armstrong for this column and talk about something else.
I have never been a big fan of Oprah. I rarely ever watched her show and as stated above, this was the first time I have ever watched OWN. My wife got a big chuckle Thursday night and pointed out I was the first person in our family to watch the network.
Going into the broadcast, I feared Oprah was going to do what so many television networks do in major interviews like the one with Armstrong.
So many times, these networks tease us and then do nothing but fluff leading up to the big stuff. Since the show was an hour and half on Thursday, I was certain she would save the best for last so she could keep the audience tuned in for the last half hour.
I was wrong.
Oprah came out firing.
She started out with blunt questions and demanded "yes or no" answers.
Did you dope in all seven of your Tour de France wins?
Page 2 of 2 - "Yes."
Wow, I was stunned.
That is what kept me watching the entire interview. In fact, I made sure to go to the kitchen during the commercial breaks, like I was watching a football game.
Maybe I have been missing out all along when it comes to Oprah.
If this is how she conducts interviews, it makes me feel proud of my profession.
She was a bulldog.
Though in an interview like that, there are certainly a long list of prepared questions, you could tell many of the things Oprah asked were from her head and not a sheet of paper.
She was very sharp when crafting the follow-up questions because Armstrong was trying his best to be elusive.
That may not even be the right word. It was more like he knew these questions were going to be tough and he wasn't quite sure how to handle himself.
I think he may have chosen Oprah because he thought it might be a little easier than some of the other journalists who ask really tough questions.
He was wrong.
She was more like Mike Wallace than Ellen Degeneres. I was astounded at how the questions just kept coming out of her mouth. There was no slack, no reprieve, nothing. He was on the spot and she was not going to stop.
I read that the interview took about two and one half hours and there was a break somewhere. I have a feeling that break came after Thursday night's portion.
It appeared the next portion was going to be about his foundation and other topics which I expected earlier on in the interview.
I never thought I'd be writing a column saying I was proud of Oprah Winfrey's interviewing skills. I have now written that column and believe she did a big service to the world of journalism.
I wonder if there are any made for TV movies worth watching on OWN?
Little is editor of The Wayne Independent and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.