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TV Review : Don't Blame Him--He's Just the Reviewer

May 26, 1994|MARTIN ZIMMERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Let's get this straight from the get-go: I didn't do it. It wasn't me. No way. If you have to blame someone, try Howard Rosenberg--it certainly wasn't me.

*

Hey, I've watched and learned from "Don't Blame Me," a special edition of "Eye to Eye" that examines the notion that accepting responsibility for our actions seems to be outdated. There's no shame in denying my responsibility for my sins, my transgressions. I can evade with the best of them.

Or maybe not. It's hard to top such world-class excuse-makers as attorney William Kunstler, who tells host Bernard Goldberg that his client Colin Ferguson killed six people on a Long Island commuter train because of "white racism," or Lyle Menendez lawyer Jill Lansing, who trots out the "abuse excuse" defense for her client.

*

Or Joel Rifkin, the New York serial killer whose defense is "adoptive child syndrome." Or Damian Williams of Reginald O. Denny beating fame, whose lawyer, Edi M.O. Faal, successfully used a "mob frenzy" defense. You get the idea.

Goldberg covers all of these serious cases as well as some pretty silly ones from "average" people (the man who came late to work for 10 years and was fired, then sued claiming "chronic lateness symptom"; the man who was dysfunctional with money--"affluenza") with just the right mix of breeziness and skepticism and brings out an interesting selection of experts to counter the excuse-makers' blarney.

The show stumbles badly in an unfocused segment on children and responsibility but picks right back up with a segment on politicians who cheerfully take the blame as long as there are no consequences for their actions.

"Don't Blame Me" is a bit slick--this isn't "Frontline." Deeper philosophical concerns are given short shrift. Nevertheless, it's mostly a fun ride, an entertaining course in Ethics Lite 101.

* "Don't Blame Me" airs at 8 tonight on CBS (Channels 2 and 8).

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