NEW YORK -- Oprah Winfrey paid a virtual visit Tuesday to "CBS This Morning" to discuss her highly anticipated interview over two nights later this week with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, in which he is rumored to partially confess to using performance-enhancing drugs -- an allegation he has vehemently and aggressively denied for the last decade.
Via satellite from Chicago, Ms. Winfrey spoke to anchors Gayle King, Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell about her 2 1/2-hour Monday afternoon sit-down with Mr. Amstrong. She explained how she had feverishly prepared for the interview "like a college exam" and had a list of 113 questions at the ready. "I didn't get all the questions asked, but I think the most important questions and the answers that people around the world have been waiting to hear were answered," she said.
Although she was "satisfied" by Mr. Armstrong's responses, Ms. Winfrey confessed that "he did not come clean in the manner that I expected. It was surprising to me. I would say that -- for myself, my team, all of us in the room -- we were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers."
She also said she'd prefer to leave it up to viewers to decide whether or not he was contrite, But that he was "thoughtful," serious, and, like her, very well-prepared. "At the end of it, 2 1/2 -- literally 2 1/2 hours -- we were both pretty exhausted," Ms. Winfrey said.
As to the question of why Mr. Armstrong chose to come clean after so many years of denial, Ms. Winfrey speculated that the "velocity of everything that's come out in the last several months, particularly in the past several weeks," had forced a change of heart. She also recounted at length the back story of the interview, explaining how she had emailed Mr. Armstrong several months ago and later had a private meeting with him in Maui to work out the details.
Whatever Mr. Armstrong does or doesn't say, the exclusive interview is certain to be a boon for Ms. Winfrey's OWN Network, which has seen some ratings improvement but still has a long way to go.
Now expanded to two nights, "Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive," as the special episode of "Oprah's Next Chapter" has been dubbed, will air on OWN on Thursday and Friday nights at 9 p.m. EST, and will be streamed on Oprah.com.nation