Ted Turner on Tavis: Touting Abortions and Detente, Trashing FNC

On tour with his new book Call Me Ted, CNN founder Ted Turner unloaded more of his typical liberal nuggets on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS Tuesday. He pounded Bush’s pro-life position on the UN Population Fund: "We said we were going to pay, but the Bush administration never issued the checks. So women are dying of unsafe abortions." He still had old Cold War lessons: "I learned that the Russians, if you're nice to them - if you treat people with dignity, respect, and friendliness, they'll almost always reciprocate the same way." He trashed Fox News for backing war in Iraq and then claimed they "backed off of it."

Many people have probably forgotten how dramatically Turner has supported the cause of population control and abortion. He hasn’t changed his mind:

SMILEY: To your point now about overpopulation or the world's population, what do we do about that, if anything?

TURNER: Family planning. Have one and two-child families.

SMILEY: That's very controversial, as you know.

TURNER: I realize that, but I don't believe in it being a law. I think we should do it because it's the right thing to do for the time that we are here today. All you've got to do is fly over L.A. and see it goes from the ocean to 50 miles inland, it's solid people - nothing but. The land is the same way, but we just have to do it.

And in 1950, there was not a single country in the world that had a stable population. Now there's 40 countries that have stable population or shrinking population. And where the real problems are in the developing world, where women don't have equal rights with men, where they're uneducated and they don't have access to birth control, and they have more children than they'd like to have, that's where the population explosion is really occurring.

And it's a real tragedy. Like the United States hasn't been making their $25 million contribution to the United Nations Population Fund. We said we were going to pay, but the Bush administration never issued the checks. So women are dying of unsafe abortions because they don't have any other form of family planning all over the world in the developing world. The rich countries have to do their part to help the poor countries, in my opinion.

When Smiley asked about how he wanted CNN to do the news straight, Turner claimed he wanted both sides presented on the news, and complained the news had been completely biased toward the Israelis. He also felt misled about the communists and the Cold War:

I had grown up thinking that Communists were bad because that's what I'd been told. But when I met Castro and then I went to Russia and started really getting to know the Russians because I was interested in seeing if we could help bring the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion and came up with the Goodwill Games and everything, I learned that the Russians, if you're nice to them -- if you treat people with dignity, respect, and friendliness, they'll almost always reciprocate the same way.

If you go over and tell them you don't like their country, you don't like the food, you don't like their music, you don't like their culture and you don't like their women -- you just don't like the place -- well, they won't like you at all, either.

But if you go over and say, "Man, I'm having the best time over here. This Russian food is delicious. And everybody looks so great and everybody's being so friendly to us, we're having a great time here," they give you a hug. The Russians hug each other. Men over here, we're kind of afraid to hug each other, although it's getting more common. I brought it back. If I was hugging the Russians, I figured I'd want to hug my American friends, too.

Smiley even recalled that Turner interviewed Fidel Castro for CNN. Smiley asked Turner about whether CNN was trying to match Fox News Channel on the left, and he acknowledged that the network wants hosts with an attitude now.

Fox News definitely leans to the right, and if I remember correctly, at the beginning when we were getting ready to go to war with Iraq, they endorsed the war with Iraq, they promoted the war with Iraq, and I certainly don't think that's good, that a news network was trying to stir up a war. And once the war started going badly, they sure backed off of it and everybody pretty well forgot that, but I didn't forget it.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis