Ted Turner is on a whirlwind tour. He has kept a relatively low profile since being eased out of Time Warner Inc. No more. The Cable News Network founder’s byline appears on an excellent piece in Washington Monthly and Media Man, a breezy new biography by New Yorker media writer Ken Auletta, is coming out next month.
(Favorite fact we learned in the book: The seemingly combative Turner hates in-person confrontations. After finding out -- by phone -- that then-CEO Gerald Levin was squeezing him out of the soon-to-be AOL Time Warner, he jetted off to his New Mexico ranch. Once there, he "went white" when he was faxed a press release listing him as a "senior adviser.")
But the best Ted Turner sighting was his hour-long appearance on PBS’s The Charlie Rose Show, July 24, which will be rebroadcast Aug 2. Of course, it’s always fun to listen to him attack Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News Channel has bested Ted’s baby, CNN. Turner calls Murdoch "a bad journalist" and "a frightening person" who dreams of world domination.
"He literally has control of Britain," Turner says. I talked to Tony Blair many years ago. I said, ‘Tony, why don’t you crack down on Rupert a little? He’s got too much control of Britain.’ He said, ‘Ted, I wouldn’t have been elected. I wouldn’t be in my job without Rupert. I can’t go after him.’ What about that?"
Frankly, we like it best when Turner turns introspective. "Losing my job, losing my fortune and having other personal problems of quite significant magnitude, humbled me," says the former mogul. "[They] brought me down off my high horse."