Ted Turner's Quixotic Quest to Retake CNN

The former media magnate wants back in the game. Is he out of his mind?

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Ted Turner, the Fortune 500 billionaire and founder of CNN, has caused a stir saying he wants to takeover his old company again. After a decade in retirement, Turner said CNN needs to focus on "less talk, more news" and offer better coverage of international events. The former media magnate also offered unsolicited advice to Cartoon Network, another one of his former assets. He urged them to broadcast "Captain Planet," an environmentally-themed cartoon he helped create, during prime viewing hours so kids can watch “the environmental superhero instead of just Superman.” Finally, Turner took a swing at newspapers saying, "You're chopping all these trees down and making paper out of them... It's the biggest solid-waste problem that we have." Is he inspired, misguided, or just speaking off-the-cuff? The interview generated a wide range of responses:

  • He's Spot On, applauds The Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva: "On the day after the great balloon chase -- the afternoon cable news marathon tracking of a wayward helium balloon said to hold a six-year-old boy...the entrepreneur's longing for a day when news carried the day carries a certain appeal."
  • He's Delusional, writes Nikki Finke at The Deadline: "Too bad [Time Warner's] one-time largest shareholder sold off his stock and now has no power there and instead raises bison in Montana." New York Magazine's Adam Raymond adds, "These are basically a bored viewer's ramblings -- typically emailed to Rick Sanchez and quickly deleted. You know, if the bored viewer didn't also happen to be the founder of the network."
  • He's a Hero, writes Joe Windish at Moderate Voice. Although Turner approved the merger between AOL and Time Warner (a move many business analysts call the worst corporate merger of all time), Windish and others praised the media entrepreneur: "Turner remains a business man I admire, both for his media innovations and for his philanthropy." Defending Turner's business savvy, Rick Kaempfer adds, "He cashed out of Time Warner about eight years ago after the merger with AOL, and I think it's safe to say that the people that took over from him ran the company right into the ground."

  • He's Wrong About Newspapers, snipes Henry Scott at the Poynter Institute: " Someone needs to tell Ted Turner that paper producers actually grow trees to replace those they cut down, just as tomato growers plant new tomato plants to replace those destroyed when they harvest the crop. Where did this notion that newspapers kill trees come from? At least, unlike most television, they don't kill brain cells."
  • He's Right About Captain Planet, indulges Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker, who can't help but reminisce: "Ah, Captain Planet. That name made me nostalgic for a crappily-animated but good-hearted cartoon I have ridiculously fond feelings for. Can you name the five young 'planeteers' and their powers, who combine to form Captain Planet? Remember: The power is yours!"
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