Press Box

Ted Koppel Predicts!

Only a reporter this intimate with the story could get it so wrong.

Ted Koppel

Is there a more pompous egomaniac purring on the airwaves today than Ted Koppel?

Two days ago, the bouffanted one filed a commentary piece on NPR pegged to the seizure of 15 British sailors and marines by the Iranians. For self-obsessives like Koppel, all journalism is autobiography, so the story doesn’t seem new to him. Instead, it echoes the hostage-taking of American diplomats 28 years ago in Tehran because, as Koppel doesn’t have to remind listeners, it was the news event that started the show America Held Hostage that became Nightline and made his career!


Koppel’s stunningly original lede: “As Yogi Berra so elegantly put it: ‘It’s déjà vu all over again.’ ”

Early on, Koppel offers listeners a little self-disparagement to remind them the story is about him, noting that 28 years ago he predicted in a piece that the face-off between Iran and the West would end soon. “If, by soon, I meant 444 days, I was right on the money,” he chortles.


Because it’s déjà vu all over again, Koppel predicts that the current incident will unfold like the last: The Iranians will humiliate Prime Minister Tony Blair—as they humiliated President Jimmy Carter—by holding the captives until a new head of state takes office.

The British sailors and marines touched down in Heathrow Airport today.

You’re 2-for-2, Ted.


This is precisely why I’ve refrained from making predictions since I wrote that the Plame affair would extinguish itself. Should I be so daring as to predict that somebody will e-mail a defense of Koppel to me at (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)