Published March 29, 2006
ATLANTA, Georgia – Ted Turner took shots Tuesday at the media for its coverage of sex and violence, at himself for losing control of the news network he founded, at Bush for being a "reformed alcoholic" and at the Bush administration for going to war in Iraq.
The outspoken billionaire philanthropist made his comments as he was being honored for promoting global understanding.
"There's an awful lot of superfluous news, the pervert of the day and someone that shot seven people at a fraternity party," Turner told a crowd gathered at a downtown hotel. "Who needs it all?"
Turner, 67, said he regrets losing control of CNN, which he founded in 1980, to Time Warner Inc. after its merger with America Online.
"I had a sacred trust there and I let it go," Turner said. "I thought there was no way they could phase me out, and I was wrong."
In 2003, Turner resigned as vice chairman of what was then AOL Time Warner Inc. Then, last month, he said he wouldn't seek re-election to the board of what is now simply Time Warner.
As for Bush, Turner didn't mince words.
"We can't afford the war in Iraq," Turner said. "This is a big waste of time. "I wish we would say, 'We won and we are going home.' We shouldn't be there. Bombing isn't a way of changing people's minds. You do that with education."
Bush lacks a true understanding of the world, Turner said.
"We had a president of the United States who had been out of the country but once before he was elected," he said. He added, "And this guy has his finger on the nuclear trigger, too — reformed alcoholic, nothing wrong with that."
White House spokeswoman Maria Tamburri addressed Turner's war criticism.
"Iraq remains a central front in the war on terror, and it's important for the security of our nation to have a Democratic Iraq as a friend and ally," she said.
She had no immediate comment on Turner's remarks about the president's alcohol use.
Bush pleaded guilty to drunken driving in 1976, when he was in his 30s. He has said he quit drinking when he was 40.
Turner, who was awarded the annual Delta Air Lines Prize for Global Understanding administered by the University of Georgia, was asked after the symposium whether he would consider running for president.
"I've thought about it a lot," Turner said, adding that he is almost 70 and his "opportunity has passed."