CNN founder Ted Turner, the man who invented 24-hour news, says the network needs “a more balanced agenda.”
Turner shared his disappointment of his brainchild in an interview with Ted Koppel, which will air on “CBS Sunday Morning” on Sept. 30.
The media mogul who not only started the 24-hour news cycle, cable news as an alternative to broadcast news, and the TBS network, said he would do things differently at CNN if he were still running it.
“I think they’re sticking with politics a little too much,” Turner said of the network he founded in 1980. “They’d do better to have a more balanced agenda.
“But that’s, you know, just one person’s opinion.”
The 79-year-old media giant sold both networks—CNN and TBS—to Time-Warner in 1996. He no longer has any connection to either.
Turner spoke with apparent fondness of his days at the top of the cable news pyramid, when world leaders cared about his opinion.
“I was even friends with Fidel Castro and Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin—I was friends with all of them,” he told Ted Koppel wistfully.
“There was a time when you and Rupert Murdoch didn’t get along so well,” Koppel suggested.
Murdoch, a billionaire global media mogul, was Turner’s main competitor in the U.S. news market. Murdoch launched the Fox Broadcasting Company in 1986, and soon made it into a dominant force in U.S. cable TV. Fox News became an alternative to CNN.
“He didn’t hate me. He envied me—because I was ahead of him, a little bit, but not much,” Turner said of his relationship with his chief business rival.
“He was one of the smartest guys in the media business—is one of the smartest.”
Lewy Body Dementia
Turner also revealed in the Ted Koppel interview that he has developed a degenerative disease.
Turner explained that he has Lewy Body Dementia, a progressive brain disorder. He said the main symptoms were fatigue and forgetfulness.
“It’s a mild case of what people have as Alzheimer’s. It’s similar to that. But not nearly as bad. Alzheimer’s is fatal,” Turner told Koppel.
“Thank goodness I don’t have that. But, I also have got, let’s—the one that’s—I can’t remember the name of it.” Turner said, perhaps joking.
“Dementia. I can’t remember what my disease is,” he continued.
When Ted Koppel asked what symptoms he was experiencing, Turner replied, “Tired. Exhausted. That’s the main symptoms, and, forgetfulness.”
Turner also told Koppel that he had considered entering politics himself.
Turner said he had contemplated a run for the White House in 1999, while he was married to Jane Fonda. She had been previously married to California politician Tom Hayden for 17 years.
Fonda shut down that plan firmly, Turner explained.
“Well, the closest I came to running for office was when I was married to Jane Fonda,” Turner said.
“And she said, you know, ‘If you run for, for office, you run alone.'”
Turner was fired from CNN in 2000 when AOL took over the network. He has since focused on philanthropy, giving one billion dollars to the United Nations, particularly UNICEF.