FOR THREE weeks, I've been busy promoting a new book. During that time, I've been closely monitoring the traffic to my Web site, where information about the book has been posted.
The launch ended Friday, so I was surprised to learn that the highest number of visits to my site was recorded three days later, on Monday.
At first, I fooled myself into thinking I'd created enough hype to carry through the weekend. People heard me talk about "Murdered by Mumia" all week, and finally made it into a bookstore this weekend to buy it, I surmised. I also rationalized that last weekend was the biggest shopping weekend of the year.
But, alas, I'm a knucklehead.
Because while the Web site did indeed have tons of book-related visits last week, the high-water mark for unique visitors had nothing to do with the murder of a Philly cop. People were really accessing my site to troll for photos of the local broadcaster accused of hitting a police officer in New York.
For reasons known only to the Internet gods, when the name "Alycia Lane" is typed into Google "images," the first picture to pop up is one taken in my radio studio and posted innocuously on my Web site - a smiling, pony-tailed, fresh-faced Alycia Lane. (No doubt to the disappointment of the surfers, she's fully clothed.)
Worse for them, she's standing next to a pretty average bald guy. That would be me.
The Web hits were yet another sign of how big the Alycia Lane story has become, even though exactly what happened remains somewhat mysterious. Undisputed is that early Sunday morning, Lane's taxi was caught behind a slow-moving car - which became the target of repeated honking by Lane's cabbie.
That's when police say an intoxicated male (who may or may not have been a local DJ) jumped out of the taxi and confronted the people in the other car, who turned out to be police. Lane allegedly got out of the taxi and began taking pictures with her iPhone.
According to the police report, she pressed the phone against the face of one of the officers, who then grabbed Lane's arm. Lane allegedly screamed, "I don't give a f--- who you are, I am a reporter, you f-----g dyke," and struck the officer in the face. She was arrested and charged with second-degree assault, to which she pleaded not guilty. Lane's lawyer denies she knew she was dealing with police and also that she struck the female cop.
I like Alycia Lane. I hope she didn't slug an officer.
But the more I think about what's been reported, the worse it looks for the anchorwoman.
FIRST, I SUSPECT she knew she was dealing with police. It comes down to the iPhone. If Lane believed she was dealing with average New Yorkers, would she have pulled out the phone to record the incident? I doubt it.
I suspect her "reporter instinct" kicked in when someone in her party became involved with the police. The iPhone was her way of keeping the incident honest.
Second, I don't know whether she struck the cop, but my gut tells me she did say what the police allege. Remember, the incident happened early Sunday morning. By Monday morning, it was front-page news, which to me suggests someone in New York knew she was a Philadelphia celebrity and called the press.
How would they know that?
Well, in the police version of the story, Alycia Lane told them.
If she didn't tell them she was a reporter, I bet the story would have eventually come to light, though not as quickly as it did. Remember, she's a Philadelphia celebrity, not a New York player. Someone there dropped the dime after finding out Lane has a profile here.
Put it together, and you have more than just run-of-the-rumor-mill celebrity misbehavior.
Hitting Manhattan for a few drinks with a "hunky radio DJ" or cruising through New York City honking a car horn would be just another part of the game. We know that.
But if she did punch a police officer, there will be no triumphant return for Alycia Lane. Nor should there be. The bottom line in New York or Philadelphia is that cops are off limits. And rightfully so.
Somebody get Larry Ceisler on the phone. She needs a trip to rehab and a return visit to Dr. Phil before Philly will forget. *
Listen to Michael Smerconish weekdays 5:30-9 a.m. on the Big Talker, 1210/AM. Read him Sundays in the Inquirer. Contact him via the Web at www.mastalk.com.