Loughlin Has No Idea How to Play the Hand She's Been Dealt

(Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP, File)

(Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP, File)

Lori Loughlin, the embattled TV star who's become a media piñata in her new role as entitled rich parent, owes her fame to a show called "Full House." It's a poker term, which seems ironic these days, since it appears Loughlin has no idea how to play the hand she's been dealt.

Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, face an array of charges stemming from allegations they paid $500,000 to get their daughters in the University of Southern California by way of faking the girls' way onto the USC rowing team. The heat was turned up on the couple last week, when new charges were added after they declined a plea deal with federal prosecutors, according to news accounts.

I'm careful here to ascribe the preceding account to news reports, because I've covered big trials and legal dramas, and the "facts" involved in these pre-trial maneuvers are often malleable and easy to spin. But it is in those maneuvers where Loughlin is losing badly, failing to abide by the old poker adage: play the player, not the cards.

Loughlin has several optics problems. First, her alleged behavior is in direct contrast to her TV persona. That's the media equivalent of hot and cold air masses colliding to make a hurricane. It's too combustible to ignore. Second, her alleged crimes are morality-based. They go to the heart of right and wrong, fair and unfair. As a result, everyone has an opinion, and everyone thinks they would never, ever do what she did.

Third, whatever reservoir of good will the public may have had for her dried up when Felicity Huffman, the other actress caught up in the scandal, publicly atoned for her sins last week. However simplistic or unfair the comparisons were, Huffman looked like the stand-up person, willing to face the music for her mistakes. Loughlin looks like she's hiding, holding out for a deal, refusing to admit what we all think we know was so patently wrong.

There's a lot of assumptions and simplifications in that last sentence. To compare her case to Huffman's, for example, is easy but glib. But that's the hand Loughlin holds, and she needs to play it better. Play the player? Stop hiding behind "sources" talking to places like People magazine and come out face the music. Even if her lawyers force her to avoid specifics of her case, any TV news show would jump at the chance to have Loughlin appear. She needs to call upon the personality attributes that made her popular (it can't all be acting, can it?) and explain, generally, how she got into such a mess. She needs to appeal to the public that once admired her to give her second chance, a fresh look. At the very least, it will stem the PR bleeding that threatens to erase any chance of Loughlin reclaiming her career.

Until then, Loughlin will keep losing every hand, and her chips will vanish.

Larry Hackett