Ed Driscoll

Great Moments In Television Journalism

Back in December, I mentioned Alycia Lane, a Philadelphia-area TV news anchorbabe who was fired after an altercation with a Manhattan police woman:

As Dan Riehl wrote in October when the story of Dallas-area TV journalist Rebecca Aguilar confronting an innocent elderly man on-camera broke, “Leave it to a real journalist to go over the top.”

Here’s yet another example of a professional TV journalist acting professionally in the most professional manner possible:

Alycia Lane, the evening news anchor on CBS affiliate KYW-TV in Philadelphia, was arrested on early Sunday morning in Manhattan after an altercation with a female police officer, according to the New York Times. Lane and her boyfriend Chris Booker, and another unidentified couple were reportedly traveling in a taxi through Manhattan and became upset over a slow vehicle blocking their way. Philly.com reports Lane confronted the passengers of the slow vehicle, which happened to be a group of police officers in plainclothes.

When one of the officers asked Lane, who was taking photos with her iPhone, to step back, the news anchor reportedly began verbally assaulting the officer. According to Philadelphia Weekly, Lane screamed at the officer, saying “I don’t give a f*ck who you are, I am a reporter you f*cking dyke.” Lane then punched the female officer in the face, according to the Associated Press, resulting in several lacerations and swelling. The officer was treated at a local hospital and released.

According to Wikipedia, KYW-TV’s slogan is “We Are Moving Ahead”–by punching the daylights out of anyone that gets in our way!

While that story sounds trashy enough as it is, it only gets weirder from there:

CBS3 yesterday released anchorman Larry Mendte from his contract 31/2 weeks after FBI agents seized his home computer amid allegations that he illegally broke into former coanchor Alycia Lane’s e-mail.

Sources said an internal investigation at CBS3 disclosed that software that secretly captures keystrokes – including passwords – had been installed on a station computer.

Mendte’s firing came nearly six months after CBS3 fired Lane, following her arrest in New York for allegedly hitting a cop.

What began as a series of gossip-page scandals embarrassing Lane has morphed into a federal criminal investigation and a sexual-discrimination lawsuit.

The FBI is looking into whether Mendte illegally accessed Lane’s e-mails and leaked information from them to the media, including an angry message from a wife upset that Lane sent bikini photos to her husband.

Six months ago, when Lane was fired, Mendte represented a strong public face for the station. But on Thursday, Lane filed a lawsuit in which she said Mendte worked to discredit her behind the scenes and that CBS3 defamed her as she was fired from her $800,000-a-year job.

Now, Mendte, who had about a year left on his contract, has been fired from his $700,000-a-year job.

Mendte’s lawyer, Michael Schwartz, said Mendte was notified of the station’s decision before it was made public. Schwartz declined to talk about the investigation or specifics about Mendte’s career, except to say: “We continue to work with the federal authorities and expect a prompt resolution of this matter. I fully expect that Larry will resume his broadcasting career.”

CBS3 said the claims in Lane’s suit had no merit.

As of yesterday, Mendte, 51, had not been charged with any crime.

It is illegal under federal law to read another person’s e-mails without permission. However, people charged with such a crime are rarely sentenced to prison, unless the crime includes significant economic or physical harm.

The Mendte case broke publicly late last month, when FBI agents armed with a search warrant arrived at the Chestnut Hill home he shares with his wife, Fox29 anchor Dawn Stensland. Mendte went to work the next day, but left abruptly.

Stensland is not suspected of any wrongdoing, sources said.

In a statement read during the 6 p.m. news yesterday, CBS3 anchor Susan Barnett said that Mendte was “released” effective immediately and that he was under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Patty Hartman, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan, said she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of a Mendte investigation.

Mendte’s image and bio were removed yesterday from the station’s Web site, which also carried a brief statement about his termination.

The station said the decision to let Mendte go was based on an independent investigation conducted by CBS.

You stay classy, big media!

(Hat tip: My mom, one of the great connoisseurs of Philadelphia television news, who told Nina and I that Mendte was fired “after he was caught going into someone else’s Internet!” Hey, everyone’s entitled to their own private series of tubes…)