Lance Armstrong will appear on Oprah this week to address accusations of using drugs while winning the Tour de France seven consecutive times. This addition to a long line of Oprah confessionals begs the questions: Why hasn’t anyone from Wall Street appeared on Oprah’s couch to atone for the evils of the 2008 financial meltdown?
For any guest who has asked pardon on Oprah, it’s clear that the show offers more than just a daytime interview. An Oprah appearance is a public purging of sins; it lets the public know you are sorry and regret doing what you did. And many public figures have taken advantage of this post-scandal media plea. Author James Frey after lying about many aspects in his book, “A Million Little Pieces”; Olympic athlete Marion Jones after admitting to using steroids; and actor/governor Arnold Schwarzenegger after revelations that he had a lovechild with the housekeeper all have used Oprah’s show as a rote pit stop during the PR apology tour.
[Related: How Banks Can Regain Trust: Quit Messing Up]
With her magazine, book club and her very own network, Oprah has a voice that reaches millions. What has been deemed the “Oprah effect” has already been shown to influence how people vote and what they buy. It isn’t a large jump to suppose it might garner some sympathy after a transgression. And sympathy is what Wall Street needs. Public opinion of Wall Street reached a 40-year low after the financial crisis, and many and are still calling for jail time for the major bank heads. Getting a one on one with the Queen of Compassion can do nothing but help these ratings, and it might even help ease the public’s distaste for their friends in finance.