Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dropping anchor

By now you may have heard about Larry Mendte. He is, or was, after all, a TV news anchor. In Philadelphia, that makes him a superstar.

We have a tendency to glorify the people who bring us the news via the tube every day. I can assure you the same does not hold true for newspaper editors. There are days when I’m glad about that. There is a comfort in the anonymity that comes, for the most part, with this job.

I actually did have a recent brush with TV, appearing on a statewide cable show on the Pennsylvania Cable Network. It was not a horrible experience. At least until I started hearing from people who had seen it. They all wanted to know if I was feeling OK. Then I saw the show myself. It looked like I was having a heart attack. I had a ghost-like appearance. Or, as I believe I correctly summed it up, I looked approximately like “death eating a cracker.”

I’ll confine my commentaries to the newspaper, thank you. No, our salaries do not approach the stratospheric heights of those of Larry Mendte or Alycia Lane. No one ever went into the newspaper business to get rich. A lot of us did not get into this racket to be glorified gossip columnists either. But we try to deliver what the public wants. Or maybe it’s what they crave.

And right now they crave every bit of information they can get about Larry Mendte and Alycia Lane.

Me? I have just one question. What the hell was Mendte thinking about? Here’s a guy who was respected in the community, basically the face of his station’s news-gathering operation. For that he was paid handsomely. Apparently, not quite handsomely enough.

It appears Mendte developed something of an obsession about his co-anchor, the exotic Lane. Maybe it was the fact that she made more money than he did. Or that people were starting to whisper that the station’s rise in the ratings was more the result of her photogenic presence, than his solid anchorman aura.

Whatever it was, Mendte apparently went haywire.

Yesterday he was charged with a single felony for accessing Lane’s e-mail accounts. It doesn’t sound like that big a deal, until you read the case the feds built against him.

That one charge of accessing e-mail without authorization stems from Mendte’s tapping into Lane’s private e-mail accounts.

This is where it gets a bit mind-boggling. According to the feds, Mendte did not do this on a rare occasion. He did it repeatedly. Not a dozen times. Hot a hundred times. But hundreds of times. From the office. From his home. From his vacation home.

The feds say Mendte hacked into Lane’s account no less than 537 times in 146 days. Then they believe he leaked that information to a newspaper reporter.

Why? Maybe to make her look bad and bump up his own stature at the station. Lane had issues of her own. She had a well-publicized dust-up with police in New York City. It was the latest in a string of incidents that put her on the front page of the tabloids. It also cost her the seat next to Mendte’s.

Now Mendte also has been booted from his anchor post.

Our front page today screams, “Anchors Away.”

I really only have one question, the same one I’ve been asking since this Mendte angle to the story first surfaced.

What the hell was he thinking?

And one other thing, one that I take some small comfort in when my often comatose head hits the pillow at night.

There really is something to be said for a boring life.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Larry Mendte is a disgrace. Your article in yesterdays Times kissing up to Ron Raymond was even more of a disgrace. What did Ron Raymond ever introduce in the House? The Do Not Call List wow after all those years. Its obvious Mr. Herron you do not live in the 162nd. We need someone that represents the real people in the 162nd not just the good old boys.

July 22, 2008 at 8:45 AM 

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