Larry King as tool

Tim Rutten on the symbiotic relationship between CNN's Larry King and Michael Jackson lawyer Mark Geragos, in today's L.A. Times "Regarding Media" column:

Take what occurred when Geragos went on King's show to essentially lay out not only his client's entire defense but also his relationship with Jackson's family and his view of the prosecution's conduct. When it comes to dealing with the press, Geragos is about as able an advocate as one is likely to find these days. He is at once amiably personable and completely focused on his client's case. King is who he is in television journalism precisely because attack is not part of his reportorial arsenal. Still, even by his gentle standards, Thursday night's interview gave new meaning to the adjective "nonconfrontational." If baby goats had softer skins, the notion of kid gloves might come to mind.

The fact is, though, that for some time Geragos has functioned as "Larry King Live's" unpaid legal analyst. And why not? He's a camera-ready guest with a lot of experience to bring to bear on the celebrity-focused cases on which King dotes. If Larry wants to discuss a trial and Geragos is in town, they're on the air together.

Now Geragos' own trial is the story, and there he is, getting all the time and room he needs to make his client's case, free of the inconvenience that difficult questions might create.

Former Los Angeles DA Robert Philibosian also recounts when he realized legal coverage on TV had forever changed.

The veteran prosecutor recalled that he first got a glimpse of what was in store for the criminal justice system when he served as an analyst for ABC News during the O.J. Simpson trial. At the end of that case, Philibosian said, he and the commentator from the defense side were asked to give "mock closing arguments on 'Good Morning, America.' Immediately after we finished, they actually brought on another legal commentator to do an analysis of our mock arguments. I thought then that we were entering unexplored territory."

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