Ted Turner made a rare appearance on CNN on Wednesday’s "American Morning," and made an odd statement about what his priority was in global affairs. "Well, the two things that I'm most concerned about are the nuclear arsenals and the fact that they are still on hair-trigger alert, the Russian and American arsenals, and if something were to go wrong, or a mistake, and they get accidentally launched, it's the end of the world in an afternoon. I think that's probably the greatest danger that we face. And the second one is probably global warming."
Turner also made a thinly-veiled attack on the Bush Administration while making a prediction about the future of the world. "We're in a dangerous spot, but we can pull it out if we really work together and go to work on it, and do the smart things and stop doing the dumb things, like bombing Third World countries."
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who interviewed the founder of the network, hailed Turner as "one of the world's most influential philanthropists." Even with this fanfare, Turner himself looked looked out-of-it or uncomfortable during the 4-and-a-half minute interview, which took place live at the annual meeting of the "Clinton Global Initiative" during the 8 am Eastern hour.
At the beginning of the interview, Turner explained that it was his "learning experience" at CNN that led to his $1 billion donation to the United Nations almost 10 years ago.
GUPTA: Nearly 10 years ago, you decided to give away $1 billion. This whole spirit of philanthropy, what motivated you to give at that time?
TURNER: Well, a lot of it actually came from starting CNN, learning about all of the problems that there were in the world. Because as you know, we emphasized international news. So, while we were doing it, I learned about a lot that was going on overseas. And particularly, the thing that triggered it is the United States was not paying its dues to the U.N. at that time, and we were a couple of years in the rear, so and about $1 billion and the U.N. couldn't pay its bills. And so, I was trying to figure, well, I said I have $1 billion. I'll just step up, and see if I can fill the gap for a while.
Turner then couldn’t remember Gupta’s next question to him about his donation.
GUPTA: Now, looking back, almost 10 years later, any regrets about that? Did the money do what it's supposed to do?
TURNER: Well, I couldn't give the money directly to the U.N. It turned out they can only take money from -- at that time, they could only take money from sovereign states. So, we set up a parallel foundation called the U.N. Foundation to administer the gift, but to give to U.N. causes. What was the question?
GUPTA: Any regrets about it?
TURNER: No, no, no regrets at all. In fact, it is the best thing I ever did, other than having my children.
GUPTA: Having your children, which is a great thing. I have two, myself.
After asking about the effectiveness of events like the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, Turner gave a surprising answer to one of Gupta’s questions.
GUPTA: Climate change is another one of your big passions. You know, Clinton always talks about the fact that HIV-AIDS, since he has left the presidency, has been one of his biggest initiatives. What is yours?
TURNER: Well, the two things that I'm most concerned about are the nuclear arsenals and the fact that they are still on hair-trigger alert, the Russian and American arsenals, and if something were to go wrong, or a mistake, and they get accidentally launched, it's the end of the world in an afternoon. I think that's probably the greatest danger that we face. And the second one is probably global warming. So, those are the two that I'm most concerned about. But I'm concerned about AIDS and measles and malaria, too. The U.N. Foundation is -- takes a holistic view, and tries to help out at least some in every area. We still got to finish, finish eradicating polio, too, so we don't let it come out of the bottle again.
Turner looks a little dated in his answer. Most of his fellow rich liberals would name "climate change" or "global warming" as their first priority, not nuclear weapons.
At the end of the interview, Gupta asked Turner what he thought about the future.
GUPTA: Now looking -- you've been doing this for a long time. As things stand right now, are you optimistic that you're going to be able...
TURNER: About the future?
GUPTA: Yeah, and solve some of these problems that you're talking about.
TURNER: Well certainly, we have solved some of them. We've eradicated smallpox. Yeah, I'm optimistic but that -- to equate it to a sports event, a baseball game, I think it's the seventh inning and humanity is down by two runs. Now, we've got to score three runs in the next, in the next two innings, and we've got to hold them right where they are. So, it's real tricky. We're in a dangerous spot, but we can pull it out if we really work together and go to work on it, and do the smart things and stop doing the dumb things, like bombing Third World countries.
GUPTA: Well, I really appreciate your time. This is -- I like the baseball analogy as well.
TURNER: Thank you.
GUPTA: Not surprising coming from you.