Buzz Bissinger and the ethics of landing an exclusive interview

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Over at the Daily Beast, acclaimed author Buzz Bissinger confesses he was “delusional” to believe Lance Armstrong.

A lot of people have noticed that line, but something else Bissinger wrote struck me as even more notable.

In an attempt to get Armstrong to confess to doping to him (instead of, say, Oprah), Bissinger confesses something about himself:

I did coo in his ear, playing the familiar but odious game of pissing on his detractors. I did write him emails saying that no journalist would treat him more fairly than me. I detested those emails. I was only further contributing to the slime.

This raises all sorts of questions. Would Bissinger be more kind toward Armstrong today if he had been granted the exclusive confession? When Bissinger says he played the “odious game of pissing on his detractors,” is he saying he used his columns to attack people solely in order to impress Armstrong (or was this merely email communication with Armstrong)? And is Bissinger only telling us this now because he knows Armstrong can simply produce the emails as proof, anyway?

The irony here, of course, is that while we are talking about how athletes cheat at a game, a journalist who is criticizing Armstrong may have also crossed an ethical line, as well — all in order to “win” the big prize.

This phenomenon isn’t just about sports. This is really about our society. Name an industry that isn’t facing such challenges and ethical conundrums.

Journalism is an incredibly competitive business. How many of today’s top young writers use “performance-enhancing drugs” like Adderall

Are we all that different from Lance?

Matt K. Lewis