Showing just how easy it is to qualify as a talking-head legal expert on television, Guy Goma bravely fielded questions from a BBC reporter recently about the outcome of a trademark battle between the Beatles’ "Apple Corp." and Apple Computer. Mr. Goma responded to questions about whether the verdict was a surprise and what effect he thought it might have on downloading music. And he did this despite the fact that he is not a legal or technology expert of any kind, but rather a cab driver who got into the studio by mistake.
The BBC producer was looking for a tech expert who was scheduled to appear, but Mr. Goma, who has the same first name as the expert, apparently raised his hand when the producer walked in and asked for "Guy Kewney." He was promptly fitted with a microphone and seated in front of a TV camera. (It is still a bit unclear where Mr. Kewney was, and why Mr. Goma was in the waiting room at all. But let’s just be thankful for these kinds of gifts when they happen.)
As you’ll see if you watch the video, and you should, Mr. Goma realized almost immediately that someone had made a mistake (his expression, which the transcript describes as "Face of horror," is priceless). But despite obviously having no clue what the reporter was talking about, and despite his limited knowledge of English, he did his very best to answer her questions.
For example, when asked "Were you surprised by this verdict today?" he answered (quite truthfully) "I am very surprised to see . . . this verdict to come on me because I was not expecting that. When I came they told me something else . . . So a big surprise, anyway." But having recovered from that surprise, then he was off and rolling, and he answered further questions about the music industry and the effect of downloading to the best of his ability.
And he frankly did about as good a job as most of the experts you hear interviewed for sound bites on TV news today.
The BBC reporter seems to have realized that there was a problem, but stuck with it until eventually turning to a reporter who was at the courthouse. Later, the BBC acknowledged that they had interviewed the wrong person and apologized for any confusion.