I've spent the last hour watching a replay of last night's broadcast. The more I watch it, the more obvious it is how guarded, calculated and insincere Armstrong was. 24 hours ago, I was interested, curious and anxious. After Armstrong's "performance" last night, I'm just cynical, disappointed and anxious.
Attorney Mark Stichel is joining us now. Mark, we had some questions last night surrounding Floyd Landis' False Claims suit that we didn't get a chance to address. How does that suit work and how does it allow for Landis to be awarded a portion of damages?
If the Government proceeds with the False Claims Act/Qui Tam action that Floyd Landis has initiated for recovery of the $32 Million that USPS paid in sponsorship fees, Landis will get between 15 and 25 percent of any recovery. If the Government declines to proceed and Landis litigates, he will get between 25 and 30 percent of any recovery. The recovery percentages are in the False Claims Act and were increased by Congress in 1986 to encourage whistleblowers to expose fraud. Whether Landis would recover at the lower end or the higher end of the range would depend upon a number of factors. For example: The facts that Landis participated in the fraud against the Government and delayed in reporting it would support a lower award; if he contributed substantial information and provided substantial assistance with respect to the case, it would support a higher award.
Interesting. So Landis' delay in reporting the fraud could potential reduce his award, if the suit is successful, but not negate his ability to participate as a plaintiff.
Here's how things started off last night. I was exhausted 20 minutes in. Tonight's promo focuses more on the human element.
Brian That is correct, Right now the case is under seal while the Government decides whether it wants to take over the case. According to media reports frm the past few days, the decision will be made by Attorney General Eric Holder
On that note, Denver-based communications consultant from SE2 Communications, Eric Anderson, is joining us. Eric, what were your impressions of night 1, from a crisis management perspective?
Day 1 was a start for Armstrong but I think today's reaction by public and press highlighted what a steep hill he has to climb. He seemed strong on the admission but weaker on the remorse. In In crisis communications, we talk about the four-point apology. LA effectively completed step one (admit the mistake), but failed at steps two (express remorse), three (acknowledge harm) and four (offer a plan to repair the damage). Perhaps those will come this evening.
That is certainly the feeling we've gotten today, Eric. The shortcomings were even more apparent to those switching the channel to see Betsy Andreu on the CNN panel following the broadcast.
For Armstrong this just the first stage in very, very long race. We won't know for some time how he will ultimately do. And every word he says will be parsed by those he's harmed and the media, which obviously feels burned.
Landis is not talking because the False Claims Act requires that an action be sealed until the Government decides whether it wants to participate and Landis cannot talk about while it is sealed.
The best thing that happened to LA this week was Manti Te'o.
In the preview for tonight's episode, Armstrong tells Oprah that he lost $75M in revenue on the day his sponsors abandoned him.
@Rouleur My guess is no. No one will step up unless they are compelled to. It's too messy.
My phone just lit up from an unknown number from Texas. True story.
“But I also feel humbled. I feel ashamed. Yea, this is ugly stuff.”
LA: "I feel disgraced. Humbled. Ashamed."
Given Armstrong's lost sponsorship revenue and the huge amount of money he must have spent on his legal team over the past year and will continue to spend, Armstrong's financial resources already are being compromised. One thing I have thought about is whether it would make sense for him to file for bankruptcy. A bankruptcy would stay all present litigation and require all potential claimants to bring claims in the bankruptcy court. Now, there are exceptions one's ability to discharge certain debts in bankruptcy, such as those based on fraud.
Most humbling moment? LA: "Nike called, said they were out... Then calls starting coming. Trek. Giro. Anheuser-Busch. Everyone out. And that was still not the most humbling moment... I had this place in my mind they would all leave. I did not think the [Livestrong] foundation would leave."
Winfrey exploring "the disease," as Armstrong referred to cancer throughout Thursday's broadcast.
500 million dollars raised by LiveStrong. We knew that. Will Oprah touch on its spending?
A question for our PR experts. What would it take for Lance to make it back, image wise?
LA's most humbling moment: "We need you to step down as chairman but stay on the board. That wasn't enough for the people, our supporters. A few weeks later, the next call came. We need you to step aside."
Not forced out? “I wouldn’t at all say forced out, told to leave. I was aware of the pressure.”
I don't think this is really about stemming the bleeding on sponsors. I don't think he'll ever get them back. I think it's more about his personal legacacy. If he can ever do that, it will be a very long process.
But this nation can be very forgiving and likes a comeback story, even from those who have really screwed up. See Bill Clinton, for example.