Ted Koppel — Gentleman, Pro

By October 7, 2005General

Regular blog readers know we don’t do a lot of fawning over mainstream media (MSM) fixtures. It’s just not our way. However, yesterday we had the opportunity to have lunch at ABC with Ted Koppel and John Cochran, Chief Washington Corespondent, along with NAM President John Engler.

Here’s the background: Nightline aired a piece on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act — a firearms manufacturers’ liability bill — back in August. Among other things, they labeled it an NRA bill (it wasn’t) and intimated that it passed under less than bright sunshine (also not true). So Gov. Engler wrote them a letter pointing out the errors as we saw them and asking for a meeting. Lo and behold, very shortly afterwards we received a letter back from Ted Koppel taking us up on the offer to meet…

…We don’t meet with all that many icons, but he truly is one. He was both gracious and genteel. That’s not to say he and Cochran caved or rolled over. Quite the opposite — they were sharp and prepared and we debated it respectfully but well and fully. We talked about that segment and then moved to the larger issues of legal reform and the asbestos crisis — which has already bankrupted over 70 companies, and where some $70 billion in judgments have already been paid. Along the way, Gov. Engler made some excellent points and carried the manufacturing message — especially about the enormous weight of litigation costs on our economy.

We all had a better understanding of the issue — and one another — when we were done. Koppel and Cochran were more than generous with their time and invited our further input on these and other topics. They appeared far from closed-minded.

So all is not lost on gushing, here’s a link to an annotated transcript (i.e. with our comments included) of the show that started it all. The firearms manufacturers’ liability bill — which passed the Senate — bars lawsuits against gun manufacturers by victims of violent crimes committed with those guns. Gun manufacturers are liable for defects under existing notions of product liability, but no manufacturer is — or should be — liable for the illegal use of their product. Would you sue an auto manufacturer for a drunk driver’s accident? Would you sue a scalpel manufacturer for a surgeon’s error? Of course not. This somehow became viewed as a “pro-gun” bill. It was not. It was a pro-manufacturer’s bill, stopping the further creep of litigation against manufacturers. We have quite enough, thank you.

Thanks again to Ted Koppel and John Cochran for their time and for engaging in the free flow of ideas.