A man watches Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey at a… (Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images )
The verdict so far from Times readers on Lance Armstrong's image rehabilitation effort: Nice try, Lance.
More than a dozen readers have sent their thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org following the broadcast Thursday night of the (former) seven-time Tour de France champion's interview with Oprah Winfrey. Many of the letters pull no punches on Armstrong: They call the admitted doper a liar, cheater, bully and more. Many also question Armstrong's sincerity. A selection of those letters follows.
First, the good (for Armstrong). Reader Skip Nevell of Los Angeles is bullish about Amrstrong's chances at rehabilitating his image because, hey, if Tricky Dick can do it, so can Lance:
"In certain respects, Armstrong's misdeeds mimic Richard Nixon's. Like Armstrong, Nixon lied, bullied, schemed and covered up to achieve his goals, and yet his image has, to a significant extent, been rehabilitated.
"Perhaps at some future date Armstrong, whose 'crimes' don't even begin to approach in magnitude those of 'Tricky Dick,' will receive similar treatment."
For Armstrong, that's as positive as the mailbag gets. John Holmstrom of Hollywood says people have gone to jail for far less than what Armstrong did:
"Armstrong lied, cheated, ruined lives and potentially broke the law in a country where in some places minor criminals can be imprisoned for more than 20 years (three strikes) for shoplifting.
"Regardless, Armstrong seeks to be forgiven and to return to competing in the million-dollar sport he assaulted. Armstrong, who pocketed millions from sponsors and in undeserved prize money, will now certainly be paid well for his inevitable tell-all book that 'explains' his downfall.
"Finally, the important query: Who will portray Lance in the movie?"
Jeff Stichler of West Hills notes the human collateral damage caused by Armstrong:
"The word 'schadenfreude' -- taking pleasure in others' misfortune -- perfectly describes how I felt after Armstrong's interview. It confirmed to most people, myself included, what we suspected but didn't want to believe.
"I don't feel all that strongly about the actual doping itself, nor am I completely consumed by anger over his years of bald-faced lying. I am, though, outraged by the way he treated people who had the unmitigated gall to tell the truth. In a spasm of childish revenge and despicable cruelty, he tried to destroy their lives. His arrogance and glibness are legendary and far overshadow anything that resembles an apology, let alone remorse.
"With the passing of time, maybe history will judge him more kindly based on the great work that Livestrong Foundation has done. For now, it seems Armstrong's 'misfortune' is well deserved."
Frequent mailbag contributor Stephany Yablow of North Hollywood doesn't believe Armstrong:
"There is something very wrong with Armstrong. During the interview, his eyes were dead; his face lacked affect; his body language indicated distancing and anxiety (signals that he is lying); he lacks empathy, sincerity or contrition.
"He is a cheat. He continues to deceive himself, but the public ain't buying it."
Ending on a brighter note, Paul Zimmelman of Marina del Rey says the news isn't all bad for Armstrong:
"In the worst week of his life, Armstrong has one big thing to be thankful for: Manti Te'o."
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