Panel Rates Condit's Performance

Was Rep. Gary Condit open and honest in his interview with ABCNEWS' Connie Chung? Did he help or hurt his bid to strengthen his credibility and revive his political career? asked a panel to rate his performance.

Lillian Glass is a psychologist and communications expert. She's coached several newsmakers for public events. She helped Dustin Hoffman sound like a woman for his role in Tootsie and trained deaf actress Marlee Matlin to speak publicly for the first time at the Academy Awards. She's currently writing a book titled I Know What You're Thinking: How to Read a Person by Their Vocal And Visual Cues (Wiley).

Stephen Solomon is a practicing trial attorney in Southern California who specializes in civil litigation. He has represented many of the police unions in his home state. His clients include Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and former NBA star Dennis Rodman. He also hosts a legal affairs talk show in Los Angeles on KRLA.

Dr. Mark Goulston is a Los Angeles psychiatrist and an expert in behavior patterns who teaches at UCLA. He's a hostage negotiation trainer for the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. He's also screened contestants for several reality TV shows, including MTV's Road Rules and The Real World.

Lillian Glass

Condit's Strong Points: None. I'd give Connie an A+ for pressing him on the issues.

Condit's Weak Points: He was very defensive and tense.

I saw an extreme amount of lip tension, lip licking and lip biting when he felt uncomfortable. His posture was rigid. He had no fluid movement. This was rehearsed. The voice was very shaky and hoarse, especially at tense points. His voice would crack. He used "um" a lot. These things are indicative of someone who is not telling the truth.

He would constantly diverge into rhetoric that had nothing to do with the point. He would say repeatedly, "I've been married for 34 years," when it had nothing to do with the question. He brought up [former President] Clinton at the wrong points.

The body was in conflict with what he was saying. I noticed that he was shaking his head "No" when he was insisting that he told police everything about Chandra.

He did everything a child would do if he got his hand caught in the cookie jar.

Did he strengthen or weaken his credibility?

If he gets elected again, it would be a miracle.

Overall Grade: F-. His body language said he's not being honest and honorable.

Stephen Solomon

Condit's Strong Points: He answered some of the questions. He said definitively that he had nothing to do with the crime and he said he cooperated with law enforcement. He admitted he made mistakes and wanted to move forward with his life.

Condit's Weak Points:

He tried to act like he was the victim. His attitude: How dare you ask me these questions? Any witness in this situation, especially a public official, would know going into this interview that he would have to answer the questions put to him.

He hid behind the privacy issue. He took the position that he was protecting the Levy family and his own family. That is absurd.

He was totally evasive about Chandra. He wouldn't even say how often she came to the apartment. When he admits to throwing away a watch a woman gave him as a gift, he refused to go any further to make people understand why. True, he says he made some mistakes, but he had to give more of an explanation.

Did he strengthen or weaken his credibility?

He would've been better off not doing this interview. If I were his lawyer, I would never have let this guy do this. He blew it.

Overall Grade: D. (I don't give an "F" if you show up.)

Dr. Mark Goulston Condit's Strong Points:

He held his ground. What viewers don't realize is that interviewers like Connie Chung take on the challenge of trying to capture a person in a lie.

She kept forcing the issue about him not revealing the issue of his relationship. He stood his ground and that frustrated her. But it was appropriate for that line of questioning.

It would have been revealing if Connie Chung would have asked, "Have you ever told a lie in your life? Give an example." What you would be looking for is a change in body language when someone owns up to a lie. If he said he never lied, he runs the risk of getting cornered as did Detective Mark Fuhrman in the Simpson trial when he said he never said the "N-word." [Goulston worked for the prosecution in the criminal trial of O.J. Simpson.]

Condit's Weak Points: He looked as if he expected these questions and his answers seemed so rehearsed that it took away from him appearing believable to the viewer. But we need to keep in mind that if he acted on the defensive it's because he was being attacked.

Some other questions that would have been revealing: "Tell us something that bothers your conscience about this whole matter." "What is something you would have done differently if you went through this ordeal again?" And one of my favorites: "Tell us something you shouldn't tell us." These are questions that are hard to come up with pat answers for. They are questions that he couldn't prepare for and we'd have the benefit of seeing if his spontaneous responses rang true.

Did he strengthen or weaken his credibility?

I think he weakened his credibility only because when someone appears on the defensive we immediately assume he is hiding something and we tend to ignore the reporter being on the attack.

Overall Grade:

D+/C- His defensiveness came across as evasiveness.