No Relation No. 5

Is Stephen Cohen a foreign policy savant? In the past two months, he has appeared in print and on television as an expert on the NATO bombings, the Kashmir conflict, and the Israeli election.

Actually, Stephen Cohen is three people, all prominent foreign policy analysts. Professor Stephen F. Cohen of New York University is a Russian specialist. Stephen P. Cohen is a South Asia specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. Also in Washington is Stephen P. Cohen of the Center for Middle East Peace and Cooperation.

But Cohen confusion doesn’t stop with Stephen: There are four Richard Cohens in journalism. The best known is Washington Post columnist Richard M. Cohen, who dropped the middle initial from his byline when he jumped to the opinion page over two decades ago. Across town is National Journal congressional reporter Richard E. Cohen–who, despite his several books, finds that the name confusion is “more of a problem” for him, since he is less well known.

The second half of the Richard Cohen quartet lives in New York City. Richard M. Cohen, a former producer of the CBS evening news, is a CBS consultant and free-lance writer. A decade ago he engineered Dan Rather’s infamous live interview with then-presidential candidate George Bush, whose verbal fisticuffs with the CBS anchor helped him shed his “wimp” image just before the Iowa caucuses. CBS’s Cohen is married to former 60 Minutes correspondent Meredith Vieira, who now hosts an ABC daytime talk show. (Don’t confuse her with Fox evening news anchor Paula Zahn, who is married to a real estate developer named Richard Cohen.)

Finally, Rich Cohen is a writer for Rolling Stone and the author of the Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Ganster Dreams, a book about the mafia that, according to one reviewer, “shatters stereotypes as deftly as its subjects once shattered kneekaps.” “People sometimes tell me how much they like my book,” jokes Cohen the Post columnist, who was once upbraided on the phone by a George McGovern aide who mistook him for a McGovern campaign grunt. “Cohen is the Jones of the scribbling class.”

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