Accuracy in Media

During a recent interview with “E” magazine, devoted to the environment, Ted Turner was asked if the media give justice to environmental issues. Turner said no, explaining, “…it doesn?t get the high ratings Monica Lewinsky does. It?s a Jerry Springer world.” Asked how the “Jerry Springer world” ought to be changed to get people thinking about environmental issues, Turner replied, “Get environmentalists on the Jerry Springer show.” When radio talk show host Janet Parshall heard about this, she wondered what Turner had in mind – people throwing trees at each other?

This was typical Ted Turner – making a statement that leaves you scratching your head in amazement. But the problem is that he doesn?t want to be taken as a buffoon. Turner wants us to believe he?s a great thinker who has a social conscience. The founder of CNN and vice chairman of Time Warner is giving $1 billion to the United Nations supposedly to demonstrate his credentials as a humanitarian and philanthropist.

But we would prefer to think of him as the Marge Schott of the media. Schott is the owner of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team who received a two-year suspension from daily operation of the ball club for making insensitive remarks about Asians and working women. She also made comments, interpreted to be favorable to Hitler, which also created a firestorm. She is now in the process of selling most of her stake in the team.

Turner, who owns the Atlanta Braves baseball team, recently issued a semi-apology for his own comments making fun of Polish people, the Polish Pope, and the Catholic church. During the course of making those remarks he also called for changing the Ten Commandments to eliminate the one against adultery. Writing in the Catholic Standard in Washington, D.C., editor Mark Zimmerman noted that Turner?s apology consisted of the following: “Mr. Turner regrets any offense his comments may have caused…and extends his heartfelt apologies.” Zimmerman noted, “It is troubling that the apology took the form of ?I?m sorry if your feelings were hurt? rather than being an admission that his remarks were offensive and just plain stupid…”

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is reportedly investigating the matter to determine what should be done about Turner. But this is more than a baseball story. After all, Turner is a media mogul as well, and his record goes back quite some time. This is a man who has been quoted as saying that Christianity is a religion “for losers” and that he didn?t want anyone to die for him.

If Marge Schott is being forced out of baseball for insensitive remarks, why shouldn?t Ted Turner be forced out of the media for his record of outrages? When Schott made her remarks about Hitler, the Anti-Defamation League said that “If Ms. Schott is to continue in her highly visible role as an owner of a prominent and historic franchise, she bears a responsibility to her fellow owners, the players and the fans to refrain from public expressions of prejudice and bigotry.” The same should apply to Ted Turner, who is even more outspoken and has a vast media empire that he uses to disseminate his views.

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