David C. Kohler

Media attorney and USC law professor David C. Kohler was the first chief ethics officer for CNN.

David C. Kohler

Attorney, law school professor

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.

Ray Browne

Pioneer of study of popular culture

Ray Browne, 87, a professor at Ohio's Bowling Green University who was widely credited with coining the term "popular culture" and pioneering the study of such things as bumper stickers and cartoons, died Thursday at his home, his family said.

The cause was congestive heart failure.

Browne wrote and edited more than 70 books on popular culture -- including "The Guide to United States Popular Culture," published in 2001.

Although many in the field credit Browne with coming up with the name "popular culture," no one could say for sure whether he originated it.

"He was really going against the grain," said Robert Thompson, director of the Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. "He seemed to be interested in anything. You could drop a gum wrapper in front of him and he would see a text to be studied."

Dozens of schools now offer classes rooted in popular culture.

Browne was born Jan. 15, 1922, in Millport, Ala. He taught at the University of Maryland and Purdue University before moving to Bowling Green in 1967. He stopped teaching in 1990 but continued to research and write.

-- times staff and wire reports news.obits@latimes.com