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PASSINGS / David C. Kohler

Attorney, law school professor

October 26, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

David C. Kohler, 56, director of the entertainment and media law institute at Southwestern Law School, died of cancer Oct. 15 at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles, the law school announced.

Kohler, who also was a law professor, came to the institute in 2003 after more than 25 years as a media attorney, including nearly a decade with TBS and CNN.

He joined Turner Broadcasting System in 1991 and served as assistant vice president and deputy general counsel. In 1996, he became senior vice president and general counsel of CNN and was the network's first chief ethics officer.

At CNN, Kohler had been embroiled in the fallout from what is known as the Tailwind report, which used inconclusive evidence to accuse the American military of gassing U.S. defectors during the Vietnam War; the 1998 report was later retracted. Kohler, who had read the script before it aired, later investigated its accuracy with the help of an outside attorney. They concluded that, at best, the producers' reporting had been inconclusive.

Kohler was born in 1953 in Richmond, Va., and reared in Long Island, N.Y. He attended Duke University, earning degrees in anthropology in 1975 and law in 1978.

In private practice, he was an associate at a Washington, D.C., firm before moving to the Richmond, Va., firm of Christian & Barton, where he became a partner in 1989.

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