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Albert’s Rehabilitation Effort Gives Viewers Mixed Fare

I guess I’m the weirdo.

I don’t care about Marv Albert’s sex life. I’m not curious about it, I’m not entertained by descriptions of it and, frankly, the mental image of Marv Albert in underwear of any sort is one I will be very happy to have purged from my brain as soon as possible.

What does interest me is whether the first phase of Albert’s very deliberate campaign to rehabilitate his reputation - interviews with Barbara Walters on ABC’s “20/20” Nov. 7, Larry King on CNN last Tuesday, David Letterman on CBS Wednesday and Katie Couric Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show - delivered anything worthwhile to viewers. The answer: yes, no and yuck!

Thursday’s encounter between Couric and Albert was a fascinating tug of war between two skilled practitioners of the art of live TV.

Albert used rambling, elliptical answers to Couric’s well-formed questions to run down the clock and even seized control of the interview for an instant, insisting she respond to allegations he made about his accuser’s past conduct.

Couric replied: “You have lied in the past to your ex-wife and cheated on her. You’ve lied in the past to your fiance and cheated on her,” she said. “Can you understand why people might question your credibility?”

Equally fascinating and tough in its own peculiar way was Albert’s lengthy segment with Letterman. The talk-show host came at the situation from the only honest perspective available to him: as a concerned friend shaken by Albert’s guilty plea to assault and battery.

Except for a few ad-lib jokes, it was a serious, focused interview, much to Albert’s surprise.

King’s disjointed interview generated little heat and less light.

If Albert was guilty of misdemeanor assault and battery, Walters’ interview was guilty of felonious sexual pandering - a litany of sexually oriented queries about matters irrelevant to his criminal conduct (his toupee, women’s panties, garter belts, transvestites, the dominatrix).

The piece hit bottom with a shot of Albert’s fiance’s face as he was discussing a photograph of his accuser’s injured back. The stench of that “editorial choice” came right through the TV screen.

Tags: Commentary