SBD/26/Law Politics

MARV ALBERT, PART I: TRIAL ENDS IN PLEA AGREEMENT

          Marv Albert "put an end to his lurid sexual assault
     trial but lost his job when he pleaded guilty yesterday to
     assault and battery for biting a 42-year-old Vienna, [VA],
     women, accepting a plea bargain in which prosecutors dropped
     a more serious charge of forcible sodomy," according to
     Brooke Masters of the WASHINGTON POST.  Albert faces up to
     12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine when he is sentenced
     October 24 (WASHINGTON POST, 9/26).  
          ALBERT STATEMENT: Albert gave a statement after the
     trial: "I'd first like to say thanks so much for the
     wonderful work on the part of Roy Black and Peter Greenspun
     and their entire staff.  From my point of view, I just felt
     I had to end this ordeal for myself, my wonderful family, my
     fiance Heather, my friends and supporters.  I'd like to
     thank NBC Sports and MSG Network people for standing behind
     me through all of this.  I'd love to be able to answer
     questions right now, but it's been a trying day, and I want
     to spend the rest of the day with my family" (THE DAILY). 
          NETWORK STATEMENTS: NBC's statement on Albert: "This
     past May, when charges against Marv Albert become public,
     Mr. Albert asserted his innocence and assured NBC senior
     management that there was no basis whatsoever to the
     charges.  Today, given Marv Albert's plea of guilty of
     assault and battery, NBC terminated its relationship with
     Mr. Albert" (NBC).  MSG's release: "Madison Square Garden
     accepted Marv Albert's resignation. ... The Garden, MSG
     Network, the Knicks and Rangers thank him for 30 years of
     dedicated service.  As he stated himself, he must now set
     out to reconstruct his personal and professional life.  We
     wish him well in those efforts.  Madison Square Garden will
     have no further comment at this time" (MSG).  Albert, in a
     second statement: "I have resigned from MSG and have been
     let go from NBC.  I fully understand the position in which
     the networks found themselves due to my very painful
     situation.  In the interest of my family, my friends and my
     many supporters, I step aside with deep humility and seek to
     reconstruct my personal and professional life" (Mult.).  
          NEW YORK COVERAGE: All three New York City O&Os led
     with the Albert plea during their early evening reports.
     WNBC's Michael Hill said that the trial "featured an
     assassination of his reputation" (WNBC, 9/25).  WCBS' John
     Slattery: "The whole world has seen this man air his dirty
     laundry."  WCBS' Pablo Guzman: "People in the business,
     agents in the business, have said that as far as network
     reporting, that's probably over for Albert except perhaps
     for the Fox network, that he may be going back to where his
     career began, in local news" (WCBS, 9/25).
          TV COVERAGE: "NBC Nightly News" reported on Albert 10
     minutes into the program, following its first commercial
     break.  The report consisted of the details of the plea and
     reported Albert's firing from NBC Sports (NBC, 9/25).  "CBS
     Evening News" with Dan Rather, which had not reported on
     Albert all week, covered the plea 11 minutes into its
     program, leading with the story following the first
     commercial break.  Rather: "A heavily publicized criminal
     court trial in Virginia ended today.  Some journalists,
     including some closely associated with this broadcast,
     preferred not to cover any part of this case" (CBS, 9/25). 
     ABC's "World News Tonight" reported on Albert eight minutes
     into its telecast. ABC's Jeff Greenfield examined cable TV's
     coverage of the trial.  Greenfield: "Once a story has
     achieved enough media liftoff, it becomes an almost constant
     presence on these new news networks" (ABC, 9/25).
          ENTERTAINMENT SHOWS: "Extra" and CNN's "Showbiz Today"
     led with the Albert story.  "Access Hollywood" and
     "Entertainment Tonight" did not cover the story.  CNN's
     "Larry King Live" featured the Albert plea.  Among the
     guests were attorney Roy Black, agent Leigh Steinberg and
     N.Y. Times sports columnist Ira Berkow (THE DAILY). 
          SPORTS SHOWS: ESPN's 6:30pm ET "SportsCenter" led with
     Albert and reported on him again midway through the hour-
     long broadcast.  ESPN's Bob Ley reported that the NBA "had
     no comment on either Albert's guilty plea or his firing by
     NBC."  The 11:00pm ET "SportsCenter" reported on Albert six
     minutes in, leading with the Shawn Kemp trade and the Astros
     clinching the NL Central ("SportsCenter," 9/25).  CNN/SI
     reported on the Albert plea following stories on the Kemp
     trade and Greg Ostertag re-signing with the Jazz.  CNN/SI's
     Bob Lorenz called the plea "a sudden and surprising end" to
     the trial.  CNN/SI's Nick Charles: "Albert's personal
     persona and professional career both took major hits on the
     richter scale."  SI legal analyst Lester Munson: "If he had
     been sentenced today, I think he probably would have done
     some time in jail. ... I think he may still face, however,
     some short time in jail" ("CNN/SI," CNN, 9/25).  

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