Turner Admits He Ignored Slaughter by Khmer Rouge Communists, Praises Castro Faster Than Bush

Tuesday’s The O’Reilly Factor on FNC showed a pre-recorded interview with CNN founder Ted Turner, in which O’Reilly got Turner to admit that he and Jane Fonda, who both opposed America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, had ignored the slaughter of millions by the Khmer Rouge communists in Southeast Asia after America’s withdrawal from the region. Turner: "You got me. I didn’t really think about it. You know, it didn’t make the news very much at the time."

The CNN founder, who was appearing to promote his biography, "Call Me Ted," readily admitted to "admiring" Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and expressed doubt when O’Reilly argued that Castro had murdered many people. Turner: "Well, I admire certain things about him. He’s trained a lot of doctors, and they’ve got one of the best educational systems in the developing world, and, you know, he’s still popular with a lot of people down there. He’s unpopular with a lot of people, too." After O’Reilly injected, "But he’s a killer. He’s a killer," Turner responded: "He’s not, that has never, to my knowledge, that’s never been proven."

But Turner only reluctantly praised President Bush after O’Reilly argued that Bush "has saved more lives, sent more money, and provided more medical care for the citizens of all the countries of Africa than any human being that’s ever lived." Turner: "I think he made a lot of mistakes, too, but you can’t, he did some good things, but I think you basically, he’s got a good heart."

O’Reilly opened the interview by asking Turner about comments he made in 2005 in which he invoked Adolf Hitler’s popularity in 1930s Germany when he was asked about FNC’s popularity in America. A clip of Turner from 2005 was shown: "I’m not happy about [FNC beating CNN], but Adolf Hitler was more popular in Germany in the early 30s than people that were running against him, so just because you’re bigger, doesn’t mean you’re right."

Challenged by O’Reilly if he regretted his choice of words, he backed off a bit: "Well, maybe. It might have been a little strong."

The FNC host also got Turner to admit he thinks America is a "great country," but the CNN founder still used one of his standard lines in which he argued that people want to bomb America because America bombs other countries: "I think if we stop bombing people and send doctors and scientists and engineers around the world, that we’d make a lot more progress and we wouldn’t have near as much terrorism in the world as we do. I think bombing just makes people angry and they want to bomb you back."

O’Reilly soon brought up the aid President Bush has delivered to Africa, and the absence of any credit the President has received for doing so, including from Turner:

O’REILLY: There’s one man who has done more for the continent of Africa than any other man in the entire history of civilization. Do you know who that man is?

TURNER: Nelson Mandela?

O’REILLY: No. President Bush has saved more lives, sent more money, and provided more medical care for the citizens of all the countries of Africa than any human being that’s ever lived. Yet, you just said send the doctors, send this, send that, the world will like us better and won’t use terrorism. We’ve done that, and not only in Africa but around the world. But the world does not look upon George Bush as a hero, and neither do you.

TURNER: I think he made a lot of mistakes, too, but you can’t, he did some good things, but I think you basically, he’s got a good heart.

The FNC host soon brought up Castro:

O’REILLY: Fidel Castro, do you admire the man?

TURNER: Yes.

O’REILLY: Now, he has murdered people, he’s imprisoned people, people are political prisoners now. He won’t let his people use the Internet. Nobody can use that. And you admire the guy?

TURNER: Well, I admire certain things about him. He’s trained a lot of doctors, and they’ve got one of the best educational systems in the developing world, and, you know, he’s still popular with a lot of people down there. He’s unpopular with a lot of people, too.

O’REILLY: But he’s a killer. He’s a killer.

TURNER: He’s not, that has never, to my knowledge, that’s never been proven.

As he neared the end of the interview, O’Reilly brought up the holocaust that occurred in Southeast Asia after America abandoned the region to communist dictators, and pointed out that Turner did not use his media empire to shine any light on the roblem:

O’REILLY: I asked Ms. Fonda, "Didn’t it ever bother you that after all of your activism and getting America out of Vietnam which it subsequently did in the mid-70s, that three million human beings were slaughtered by the people that you were lionizing, the North Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge communists, who wouldn’t have been slaughtered if we’d stayed, and their skulls were stacked up on top of one another, and I never heard a word from you, Jane Fonda, and I never heard a word from Ted Turner about that," and that, to me, is a good question.

TURNER: You got me. I didn’t really think about it. You know, it didn’t make the news very much at the time.

O’REILLY: No, it didn’t. And you had a vehicle that you could have had. The revisionist history is what I’m worried about here. I think America is a noble nation. I think we’ve made mistakes. I think we tried to have freedom in Vietnam for the South Vietnamese. Unfortunately, the government was corrupt. I don’t think that was a venal, terrible thing to do. I think we were trying to protect people there. Maybe I’m wrong. But afterward, there’s no doubt three million human beings were slaughtered, Jane Fonda said not a word. And to this day, she blames America for everything, and I think it’s wrong.

Below is a transcript of the interview that aired on the Tuesday, December 9, The O’Reilly Factor on FNC:

BILL O’REILLY: "Impact Segment" tonight, Ted Turner. The 70-year-old businessman and creator of CNN is larger than life. You know that. A man of strong political beliefs, many of which reside on the left. Mr. Turner’s biography, "Call Me Ted," is a big bestseller. And last night, we spoke with the man. We begin the segment with a very painful experience for Mr. Turner. A few years ago, Fox News surpassed CNN in the ratings, and Turner reacted this way:

TED TURNER, DATED 2005: I’m not happy about it, but Adolf Hitler was more popular in Germany in the early 30s than people that were running against him, so just because you’re bigger, doesn’t mean you’re right.

O’REILLY: You were responding to Fox News surpassing CNN in the ratings, and then you bring in Hitler. Now, come on, Mr. Turner. Do you regret saying that?

TURNER: Well, maybe. It might have been a little strong.

O’REILLY: I mean, do I look like Hermann Goering out here? Come on.

TURNER: No, no, you look like Bill O’Reilly.

O’REILLY: Right. And I’m a nice guy. Well, maybe that’s overstating it. I’m an honest guy who’s just trying to do the best I can. But, you know, I think that you underestimate Fox News and its appeal to traditional Americans.

TURNER: That’s true. And I also said in there that I knew that that was our most vulnerable spot before I even went on the air with CNN, that a right wing network would pose a threat because not only was CNN pretty much in the middle, but so were CBS, NBC, and ABC. And you’re right, the far right did not have a voice.

O’REILLY: You can’t possibly think that Fox News is a far right operation? I mean, because it’s-

TURNER: I do. I don’t watch it that much.

O’REILLY: I mean, maybe coming from a Jane Fonda point of view it is. Come on.

TURNER: Well, I was married to Jane Fonda.

O’REILLY: I know. But how can you, I’m a far right guy? I mean, the far right hates me. Either you don’t watch or you’re so far left you can’t make-

TURNER: I don’t.

O’REILLY: Well, you should.

TURNER: I said that. I watch, I mostly watch CNN, and I’ve been watching a little bit of Bloomberg lately with the financial crisis.

O’REILLY: If that’s the case, then you shouldn’t be criticizing Fox News because you don’t know what you’re talking about.

TURNER: Well, that’s a good point. When I criticized it, it was a while back when I was sampling it a bit more than I am now. I watch it some. I do watch it some.

O’REILLY: But you became more liberal on your world view. A hallmark on the far left, not liberals, but the far left, is America brings a lot of problems on itself, we’re an exploitative country, that we cause a lot of the terrorism, that we don’t treat people like Fidel Castro fairly, that kind of thing. How much do you buy into that?

TURNER: To a large degree. I’d say it’s a little bit, a little bit over the edge, but I think we should normalize relations with Cuba.

O’REILLY: All right. Is America a good country?

TURNER: It’s a great country.

O’REILLY: Are we exploitative overseas? Is the war on terrorism largely our fault?

TURNER: No, I wouldn’t say "largely," but I think if we stop bombing people and send doctors and scientists and engineers around the world, that we’d make a lot more progress and we wouldn’t have near as much terrorism in the world as we do. I think bombing just makes people angry and they want to bomb you back.

O’REILLY: Well, I think they bombed us first, but, you know-

TURNER: Who did?

O’REILLY: You know, the terrorists on 9/11. They turned a weapon into a bomb.

TURNER: They didn’t in Vietnam. In Vietnam we bombed them first.

O’REILLY: All right, look, you can argue the Vietnam War, and I think there are two legitimate sides, but I want to keep it current because, you know, there’s one man who has done more for the continent of Africa than any other man in the entire history of civilization. Do you know who that man is?

TURNER: Nelson Mandela?

O’REILLY: No. President Bush has saved more lives, sent more money, and provided more medical care for the citizens of all the countries of Africa than any human being that’s ever lived. Yet, you just said send the doctors, send this, send that, the world will like us better and won’t use terrorism. We’ve done that, and not only in Africa but around the world. But the world does not look upon George Bush as a hero, and neither do you.

TURNER: I think he made a lot of mistakes, too, but you can’t, he did some good things, but I think you basically, he’s got a good heart.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O’REILLY: Continuing now with Ted Turner. His new book, "Call Me Ted," is a big bestseller. Perhaps the boldest move Mr. Turner ever made, business or personal, was hooking up with Jane Fonda. Your association with Jane Fonda, now, Ms. Fonda is a very far-left individual. And affairs of the heart aside, I don’t think anybody could be compatible with Jane Fonda, you were married to her for 10 years, unless you have and share some of the same world outlook. You see what I’m saying here?

TURNER: I’m not apologizing for my political views. I’ve come to it after a lot of careful thought and study and research. And I consider myself a progressive, not a, not a liberal.

O’REILLY: Fidel Castro, do you admire the man?

TURNER: Yes.

O’REILLY: Now, he has murdered people, he’s imprisoned people, people are political prisoners now. He won’t let his people use the Internet. Nobody can use that. And you admire the guy?

TURNER: Well, I admire certain things about him. He’s trained a lot of doctors, and they’ve got one of the best educational systems in the developing world, and, you know, he’s still popular with a lot of people down there. He’s unpopular with a lot of people, too.

O’REILLY: But he’s a killer. He’s a killer.

TURNER: He’s not, that has never, to my knowledge, that’s never been proven.

O’REILLY: He’s executed political prisoners. I mean, he enslaves people who don’t see it the way he sees it. Come on, he’s a dictatorship. If you admire him, then why wouldn’t you admire Mussolini? I mean, what’s the difference? Mussolini put people back to work, he was ordered. The educational system was fine. See, I’m not getting this. This is what I don’t understand about it.

TURNER: Okay, well, if you don’t see a difference between Castro and Mussolini, you know, then, you know, I likened some aspects of Fox News to the Nazis, so, I mean, you know, it works both ways.

O’REILLY: But you just admitted to me that that wasn’t a very good thing to do and wasn’t accurate.

TURNER: Hey, listen, I didn’t say I wanted to live in Cuba. I didn’t say that I was buddy buddies with Fidel Castro. I just said that I respected certain things that he’s done. What’s wrong with that?

O’REILLY: Well, you said you respect the man, and I just don’t, I can’t possibly see how you could do that.

TURNER: Of course not.

O’REILLY: Now, I asked this question through one of my producers to Ms. Fonda, and I’m going to ask it to you because by reading your book, it struck me that the Vietnam experience changed you. I’m saying to myself, "You know, Turner comes into the Vietnam era a conservative guy, pretty much a traditional guy."

TURNER: Yes.

O’REILLY: "That changes it, that changes it, and now he’s a very liberal guy." So I asked Ms. Fonda, "Didn’t it ever bother you that after all of your activism and getting America out of Vietnam which it subsequently did in the mid-70s, that three million human beings were slaughtered by the people that you were lionizing, the North Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge communists, who wouldn’t have been slaughtered if we’d stayed, and their skulls were stacked up on top of one another, and I never heard a word from you, Jane Fonda, and I never heard a word from Ted Turner about that," and that, to me, is a good question.

TURNER: You got me. I didn’t really think about it. You know, it didn’t make the news very much at the time.

O’REILLY: No, it didn’t. And you had a vehicle that you could have had. The revisionist history is what I’m worried about here. I think America is a noble nation. I think we’ve made mistakes. I think we tried to have freedom in Vietnam for the South Vietnamese. Unfortunately, the government was corrupt. I don’t think that was a venal, terrible thing to do. I think we were trying to protect people there. Maybe I’m wrong. But afterward, there’s no doubt three million human beings were slaughtered, Jane Fonda said not a word. And to this day, she blames America for everything, and I think it’s wrong. But you’re not Jane Fonda, and it’s a pleasure to talk with you, and I’m going to give you the last word. You can say whatever you want. Go.

TURNER: I’d like to have this conversation in greater length about global warming, which, I understand, you and I agree about.

O’REILLY: We do?

TURNER: And ridding the world of nuclear weapons, looking forward, not backward. We could have a lot of fun and maybe enlighten the audience.

O’REILLY: All right, Mr. Turner. We will definitely do that.

TURNER: Did you like the book? I just got to ask you that.

O’REILLY: Listen, I think you’re a fascinating character. I really do.

TURNER: Well, I think you are, too, Bill.

O’REILLY: I think you are a maverick and a guy who’s done an amazing amount with his life. And any book that tells me how that happened, I’m going to like. I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, sir. Thanks for coming on the program.

TURNER: Same to you.