Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Mendte Story

In yesterday's Philadelphia Daily News, Dan Gross reported about Larry Mendte and his "Summer Apology Tour" this past Sunday. Mendte spoke at a fundraiser for the Irish community in Mt. Airy to save Sunday Irish radio shows also attended by wife, Dawn Stensland. READ THE STORY HERE. During Mendte's speaking engagement he once again asked for forgiveness and getting a "rousing hand" from those in attendance.
Additionally, Gross also reports that the relationship between John Bolaris and Dawn Stensland at FOX are a bit tense these days. Apparently, Bolaris and Alycia Lane are buddies. Bolaris has lobbied management to consider hiring Lane as an anchor at FOX! Is THAT a slap in the face to Stensland? (even I feel the sting on that one...) Can you imagine Stensland having to co-anchor a seat next to Lane? Bolaris is the same person who, at one time, was friends with Stensland and Mendte and celebrated the birth of their son. He was also instrumental in connecting Lane's attorney, Paul Rosen, with reporter Dave Schratwieser for his live interview Friday on the 5 o'clock cast. READ THE DAN GROSS STORY HERE and LAURA NACHMAN'S STORY HERE. This was the interview where Rosen slammed Mendte calling him "a sick man". You might remember, when this story broke, Bolaris was quoted in the newspaper as basically saying Mendte should get what he deserves.
I revisit this story because of the enormity of the act Mendte committed as a co-worker, as a husband and as a father.
Think about it. Put yourself into this picture for a moment. Think of a person in YOUR life you trust implicitely. Someone you would trust to leave your open wallet or purse, your unopened mail in their presence. Then, you hear the news that that person premeditated a plan to purchase a keystroke piece of hardware to access (spy) on someone's email and personal conversations with friends, family, attorneys, etc. NOW THINK--how would you digest this? How would you forgive?
Mendte says he did what he did because Lane was "undermining him" and he felt his career and family were in danger. Add to the mix the "improper relationship" Mendte admitted. There's still something about his motive that doesn't add up to equate to his end result of accessing Lane's email over 7,000 times at all hours of the day and in various locations including his office, his home and his shore home. This goes to the level of obsession. And even after Lane was fired from CBS-3 he continued to access her email 500 more times!
As I look at the story as we know it I think about how Stensland can accept and forgive the "improper relationship", the betrayal, the humiliation when Mendte was arrested. How difficult this this have been since that News Years eve 2005 when she confronted Mendte and he admitted his relationship with Lane which was a bit more than a co-worker type friendship? Then, fast forward thirty-two months later only for Stensland to have to relive this again. If she has truly forgiven her husband I have to hand it to her.
Personally, I think the man should serve some jail time for his actions. Not only did he illegally commit a felony by tapping into Lane's email, he also broke the attorney/client relations between she and Rosen. If that's not enough he also contributed to the termination of Lane and her career! As I've said before, yes--Lane's own actions contributed to her consequence, mainly; the incident in New York of slapping a police officer and calling Governor Rendell on her way back home to "tell her side of the story". She denied ever actually asking for his help. Rendell also stated she did not ask for his help. Nevertheless, she overstepped the boundries of every journalist at that point. CBS-3 was justified in her firing in my opinion. However, Mendte's actions also contributed highly to Lane's outcome.
How does one put a dollar figure on Mendte's actions or a jail term? It takes alot of arrogance, in my opinion, to tap into someone's personal life as he did. A complete mistrust of the co-worker relationship to say the least! All the "asking for forgiveness" in the world does not erase what he did.
It amazes me in reading some of the TV industry blogs and boards out there from those who basically say "Larry didn't do anything Lane didn't do herself" and who rally for Larry to once again return to the airwaves. One poster even said "give it a few months to die down and you'll see Mendte back on air. Game shows and reality shows are always eager for someone of his talent". Where are people's heads?
Lastly, what has this debacle done for channel 3? Notice that in the last month or so they've been airing their "you can trust us" promos with Ukee Washington and Susan Barnett proclaiming how they take that trust seriously and they are the ones to turn to..."the people of CBS3 you can trust". Coincidental? Highly doubtful. I would suspect the average viewer doesn't really care but there is a fair share out there who follow this type story and very well could feel their trust factor with channel 3 has been severed. Who knows whether Chris May will be Larry's permanent replacement. Who knows if Ukee Washington's killer schedule this week -- and next -- is possibly an informal rehearsal of sorts for the main anchor chair? He's not only doing his normal 5 - 7 a.m. newscast but also the 4, 6 and 11 p.m. as well! When does the guy sleep? It is obvious they need someone to cover with May covering the conventions and with their trust factor in jeapordy they need to put a recognizable face in that chair. Now is not the time for throwing in an experienced anchor or a reporter into the primo weekday slots. Who eventually becomes channel 3's main talent remains to be seen for now.
Mendte is sentenced in late November and we'll see how the final chapter to this story plays out.


Jefferson said...

Ukee Washington is *THE* poster boy for Philadelphia news media. I mean, who else is M. Night going to use for the news cutaways in his movies? :-)

Anonymous said...

I like the team of Ukee and Susan in the Evenings. I definitely like Ukee much better than Chris May. I enjoyed Ukee and Susan when they were on in the Mornings. Ukee and Liz are a great team too.

Anonymous said...

I think Larry should do jail time and pay restitution to Miss Lane. Ukee would be a great replacement for Larry.