Friday, February 24, 2006

Ted Turner: The Big Story Today.

Ted Turner's departure from the Time Warner board of directors does not signal the end of the genius who gave us cable broadcast news.

I met Turner many years ago when CNN was relatively new, and many viewers still had their doubts about a network that started its programming at five minutes past the hour, the cost-effectiveness of having news programming going on around the clock, and a news company chairman who had a mouth as big as the South.

It was a brief introduction in the kitchen of a prominent D.C. figure's home, very informal, and Turner then had the reputation of being a very conservative voice.

He was absolutely charming. A genuine Southern gentleman with everyone in the room (apparently his lithium was working that day). I did not know until years later that he was bipolar and had all kinds of issues. What I took away from the brief moment in time was the fact that very conservative and very liberal people can be genuine with one another, can be warm, engage in conversation about things that matter.

The political climate was changing then (this was in Reagan's hey-day), and it gave me hope that the worst of the "Us vs. Them" was behind us. That was not to be.

Ted Turner's best years may lie ahead. His philanthropic, and other ventures, are a remarkable testament of this unique and true man.

Indeed, he will undoubtedly be seen as a mercurial figure until the day he leaves us.

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