Buzz Bissinger: Mendte gives new meaning to the phrase 'idiot box'

Posted: May 20, 2011

SIX WEEKS AGO, when I heard that Curt Weldon and Larry Mendte, the dumb and dumber of politics and the media, had taken it upon themselves to negotiate with Moammar Gadhafi, I knew that Christmas had come early.

The very image of these two washed-up wackos traipsing around Tripoli was too good to be true. I could just envision Mendte getting all giddy as they neared the presidential palace: "Curt. That's him! We found him!"

"Uh, Larry, that's just a statue."

"I'm gonna ask him about the Phillies. Give it a local angle . . ."

Neither Weldon nor Mendte got close, of course. Weldon was just being Weldon, a former politician trying to find relevance. As for Mendte, I normally would not waste a word on the former television news anchor for CBS 3. Instead, I would just let him dig deeper into his cone of self-delusion, still thinking that he is important when he is a convicted felon of utter nonimportance.

Unfortunately, as jury selection begins today in the civil trial of former colleague Alycia Lane against him and KYW-TV and parent company CBS on various counts - including defamation and invasion of privacy - he is impossible to ignore.

I should say up front that Alycia Lane, whose career in Philadelphia Mendte basically ruined by infiltrating her private email accounts and then sabotaging her, is a friend of mine. I think she is bright, funny, sassy, loyal and kind. I should also say up front that I think Larry Mendte is a cowardly, conniving criminal with no credibility.

I don't want any confusion.

And during the trial in Common Pleas Court, if anybody listens to Mendte and thinks that what drips from his lizard lips has a single flash of sincerity, they should be ashamed.

The trouble is, I think too many people have forgotten that Mendte is a convicted criminal, pleading guilty in federal court in November 2008 to reading hundreds of her private emails and sentenced to a pathetic six months of house arrest.

Instead, far too much of the media focus has been over the off-camera relationship between the former co-anchors. The more tawdry the supposed details, the greater the sound of smacking reportorial lips.

It makes for great gossip, but it only detracts. What Mendte did to Lane was malicious, despicable, desperate and pathetic. But I don't think Mendte feels a single shred of remorse. It's the opposite. Thanks to the media whoremongers of Philadelphia magazine (for which he writes a blog on its website) and New York's WPIX-TV (for which he does commentaries), he now squires around as if Larry is back!

Even worse, if you read parts of his pretrial deposition, it is clear he feels that he was the one who was victimized, a helpless man unable to ward off Lane's supposed advances. Lane in her deposition said that Mendte's version of events was crazy. Call me naïve, but I will take the word of a nonfelon over a felon every time.

What counts in Mendte's January deposition are the deeds he does admit to, a repeated invasion of Lane's privacy after becoming convinced that she was trying to ruin his career. (She didn't have to. He was already an unctuous, hyperventilating, over-50, over-the-hill has-been). He read her private emails - Yahoo, Mac.com, her CBS work account. He would then send ones he considered particularly inflammatory to gossip columnists both here and in New York to embarrass and discredit her and destroy her career.

It worked.

He must have felt like a clever king once Lane got the ax. His nemesis was out of the way and Mendte was still in the anchor's chair. Until the FBI learned of what he was doing and arrested him. Then he got fired, too.

I hope Alycia Lane gets $10 million from the defendants in the case. She was not only unfairly fired, but driven to the brink of despair. I hope that the trial does not get mired in the junk of who did what to whom off-camera, but in the seriousness of Mendte's offenses. I hope he is completely discredited once and for all so that not even he can pump air into his supersized ego.

In the meantime, I truly regret that he did not find Gadhafi. Because the conversation, while brief, still would have been one for the ages:

"Who is this moron?"

Contact Buzz Bissinger at buzz.bissinger@gmail.com.

|
|
|
|
|