Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ted Turner Visits SMPA's Jack Morton Auditorium

This past Wednesday, Ted Turner visited SMPA’s Jack Morton Auditorium as part of an on going series at GW, the Public Affairs Project. SMPA’s own Frank Sesno, a former CNN correspondent, moderated the event.

Ted Turner is many things, an entrepreneur, an environmentalist, human rights activist, and quite possibly the bluntest man in America. One of my favorite quotes from the evening was about the Olympics being hosted in Beijing this summer. When asked whether it was right for President Bush to go to the Olympic Games in spite of China’s human rights violations, he responded with something like,

We owe China a lot of money, and “if you owe somebody money you should be real nice to them.”
During the evening he touched on everything from nuclear non-proliferation to the environment, from the CNN/Time Warner merger (in which he was squeezed out of the company he built from the ground up), to his marriage to Jane Fonda. He offered insight on the changing face of media saying,
we “have the potential to be better informed” today, but that is not always reality.
He also discussed the possible disappearance of print news and the convergence of the many media outlets into the hands of a few large corporations.

The same year he lost around 7 billion dollars worth of holdings in his own company the CNN/Time Warner merger, his marriage ended and he lost a grandchild. Yet in the face of these situations he continued to contribute to society, and even began another business venture Ted’s Montana Grill.

At the end of the evening, I was thoroughly impressed with all that he has done with his life. I was left wondering how CNN would be different if he were still in charge. Would we think about modern cable news any differently?

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