Turner Compares Fox's Popularity to Hitler
By Jim Finkle -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/25/2005 2:14:00 PM
Ted Turner called Fox a propaganda tool of the Bush administration and indirectly compared Fox News Channel's popularity to Adolf Hitler's popular election to run Germany before World War II.
Turner made those fiery comments in his first address at the National Association for Television Programming Executives' conference since he was ousted from Time Warner Inc. five years ago.
The 66-year-old billionaire, who leveraged a television station in Atlanta into a media empire, made the comment before a standing-room-only crowd at NATPE's opening session Tuesday.
His no-nonsense, sometimes humorous, approach during the one-hour Q&A generated frequent loud applause and laughter.
Fox wasn't laughing, however. "Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network, and now his mind," said a Fox News spokesperson. "We wish him well."
Turner's comment came just days after another Nazi reference to Fox.
Gilmore Girls Executive Producer Amy Sherman-Palladino had some choice words for Fox's American Idol at a WB panel at the critics tour in L.A. Saturday. (Both shows air Tuesday at 8 p.m.) American Idol is like the Nazis marching through Poland," she said. "You just got to let them go. Get out of the way. We're kind of France going, 'You know, just don't burn down Paris, that's all we're asking.'" Asked by one of her shows' co-stars, Lauren Graham, if that was really the analogy she wanted to go with, Sherman-Palladino said that's how she saw it.
Among the other Turner highlights from Tuesday:
* On Fox News: While Fox may be the largest news network [and has overtaken Turner's CNN], it's not the best, Turner said. He followed up by pointing out that Adolph Hitler got the most votes when he was elected to run Germany prior to WWII. He said the network is the propaganda tool for the Bush Administration. "There's nothing wrong with that. It's certainly legal. But it does pose problems for our democracy. Particularly when the news is dumbed down," leaving voters without critical information on politics and world events and overloaded with fluff," he said.
* On TV news in general: "We need to be very well informed. We need to know what's going on in the world. "a little less Hollywood news and a little more hard news would probably be good for our society."
* On media consolidation:"The consolidation has made it almost impossible for an independent. It's virtually impossible to start a cable network." Broadcasters and programmers "don't want more independent voices out there. They own everything. That's why I went into the restaurant business. Either that or I'd work for a salary for one of the big jerks.
* The war in Iraq: "We've spent 200 billion destroying Iraq. Now we've got to spend 200 billion to rebuild it, if they'll let us -- and all to find a nut in a fox hole -- one guy," Turner said. "He posed no threat to any of his neighbors, particularly with us there with overwhelming military superiority." --"it is obscene and stupid"
* Why selling his company to Time Warner turned out to be a huge mistake: At the time he agreed to sell his company, "it was from a business standpoint the right thing to do." He owned 9 percent of the merged company, which "which got me some real serious respect." But after the company acquired AOL, Turner's stake in the new company was diluted to 3 percent. "Then I got the pink slip"
* Why it wasn't that huge a mistake: "I have a responsibility not to be too critical of my old company. It is a good company and I had a lot of experiences there. A lot of time things that are painful at the time they occurred turn out to be for the best."
* Ted Turner for President? "I'm too old and too burned out to take on that responsibility. I thought about it when I was younger. I don't know if I could have gotten elected or not. It would have been a lot of fun to do when I had higher energy levels."
* What he'll put on his tombstone: "I have nothing more to say."