Ted Turner Called Terrorists "Brave," Blamed 9-11 on Poverty, Denounced Bush as "Julius Caesar," Forecast Environmental Collapse
-- Back to today's CyberAlert
Clarified Some of His Comments
> One item
in this CyberAlert Extra: The Providence Journal reported that in a
talk Monday night at Brown University AOL Time Warner Vice Chairman
Ted Turner called the terrorists who attacked on September 11
"brave," claimed, despite the fact that the terrorists were
well-off, "the reason that the World Trade Center got hit is
because there are a lot of people living in abject poverty out there
who don't have any hope for a better life," and lamented that
with "a few more votes in Florida....we could have had the best
environmental President we ever had." Instead, he regretted,
President Bush "is another Julius Caesar. Just what we
Turner denounced Ronald Reagan's
"evil empire" labeling of the Soviet Union as he equated it
with Bush's "axis of evil" concept. "Calling other
countries 'dirty names,' the Brown Daily Herald quoted Turner as
saying, "is 'a great plan if you want to start a war with
When asked if he'd provide public access
to the vast land he owns in Montana, Turner, who advocates liberal
environmental policies which dictate what landowners can do with their
own land -- such as strict land use rules imposed if a species on it
is declared "endangered" -- had the chutzpah to reply:
"Can I live in your home with you? We believe in private property
in this country."
Below are excerpts from stories in
today's Providence Journal and Brown Daily Herald about Turner's
comments last night at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
The Brown Daily Herald story, link below, includes a photo of Turner
at Brown. (Credit to the MRC's Bonnie Langborgh for first alerting
me to an AP item about this which was cribbed from the Providence
-- An excerpt from "Turner urges
students to save world," by Gerald M. Carbone in the February 12
In a speech at Brown University that some students called
entertaining, offensive, and "kind of kooky," media mogul
Ted Turner last night defended private-property rights and praised
communist dictator Fidel Castro; called the terrorists who attacked
the World Trade Center "brave" men, then decried all
violence as "stupid and uncivilized"; and warned students
that Earth's environment will probably "collapse" in their
Speaking before an overflow crowd of more than 500 people in
Salomon Auditorium, Turner compared himself to a modern Paul Revere,
crying out, "To arms, to arms, environmental degradation is
The world is on the brink of collapse, Turner said, because of the
threats of nuclear war, population explosion, and environmental
Turner's talk was titled "Our Common Future," but at
times it was tough to discern a common theme. He began with a summary
of his undergraduate days at Brown University, leading to his
dismissal from campus in 1960 for having a girl in his room. ("It
was either that or stay in the snow and she'd freeze to death. And I
Turner said that people in developed nations must adopt a global
outlook and help those in developing nations. "The reason that
the World Trade Center got hit is because there are a lot of people
living in abject poverty out there who don't have any hope for a
better life," he said.
Of the 19 men who hijacked the planes that hit the towers, he said,
"I think they were brave at the very least." He asked for a
show of hands of people who would act as suicide bombers for their
country and got none.
In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session, Turner revealed that
despite the global reach of his media properties, he is something of a
techno-phobe: "To me, a VCR is totally impossible ....Now my
butler can handle it, but I have to get him up to turn it on....
Asked how young people can help save the world, Turner replied:
"How you vote is important, too. A few more votes in Florida, and
we could have had the best environmental president we ever had. Now
we've got an oil man. He [President Bush] is another Julius Caesar.
Just what we need."
Asked about plans for a "Star Wars" defense system to
shoot down ballistic missiles, Turner said, "I think it would be
a lot more cost effective to negotiate a treaty" with nations
possessing nuclear weapons. "It's just more and more expensive
all the time when we need to use the money for education, and health
care and improving the human condition. I don't believe people should
kill each other or hurt each other. I just think it's stupid and it's
A student from Montana asked Turner whether he'd allow public
access to his expansive land holdings in that state. "You buy it
and you can share it," Turner said. "Can I live in your home
with you? We believe in private property in this country."...
END of Excerpt
For the story in full: http://www.projo.com/report/html/07029261.htm
-- An excerpt
from a February 12 article in the university's student newspaper,
the Brown Daily Herald, by Shana Jalbert:
Since 1980, the three biggest problems facing the world have been
the possibility of nuclear annihilation, the population explosion and
the degradation of the environment, Ted Turner '60 told a packed
Salomon audience on Monday....
Nuclear war is the greatest threat to the world because of its
possibility for instantaneous destruction, Turner said.
Turner accused the United States of not following through on the
1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which binds it to
"cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to
"We lied," Turner said, declaring that the current
administration does not have "any intention whatsoever" of
doing away with the nuclear arsenal.
During the Cold War, Turner chose to make friends with Soviet
leaders, and asserted in his speech that international cooperation is
the only way to avoid mutual annihilation.
"We're either going to live together or we're going to die
together," he said.
Turner said he focused on what he had in common with international
leaders and on inventive solutions like the Goodwill Games, and
criticized former President Ronald Reagan for calling the USSR the
Calling other countries "dirty names" is "a great
plan if you want to start a war with somebody," Turner said. He
emphasized the similarity of Reagan's remarks to President Bush's
recent identification of North Korea, Iran and Iraq as "the axis
Environmental destruction and increasing population are secondary
to problems of nuclear weapons because they will result in "death
by strangulation instead of death by a bullet to the brain" if we
continue on our current course, Turner said.
Since 1938, the world population has tripled, and Americans are
using five to 10 times as much "stuff" as they did 60 years
ago, Turner said.
"The environment will collapse in your lifetime," he
said. He called for the use of creative techniques in raising
awareness of environmental problems....
Turner said the United States has to do more to combat poverty and
that the inequitable distribution of resources around the world was
responsible for Sept 11.
"I think they were brave," Turner said of the 19 men
involved in the terrorist acts, adding that they "might have been
a little nuts."
He said the acts resulted from desperation, and that Americans lack
an understanding of this willingness to die for one's country.
Turner suggested that students can make a difference if they inform
themselves and "talk it up with everybody."
"How you vote is important, too," Turner said, laughing,
adding that a "modern Julius Caesar" like George W. Bush is
not what the world needs....
END of Excerpt
For the entire article, which also
features a photo of Turner delivering his remarks at Brown University
on Monday night, go to: http://www.browndailyherald.com/stories.cfm?ID=6169
Though Ted Turner may no longer run CNN,
he never ceases to earn his "Captain Outrageous" nickname.
But I'm not sure why anyone would take advice from a guy who needs a
butler to turn his VCR on or off.
Update: In a statement released late on Tuesday, February
12, Ted Turner claims his comments, that "the reason that the
World Trade Center got hit is because there are a lot of people living
in abject poverty out there who don't have any hope for a better
life" and the terrorists "were brave at the very
least," were "reported out of context, and I deeply regret
any pain they may have caused."
The two newspapers with reporters who
heard Turner's Monday night remarks at Brown University, however, are
standing by what they reported.
An AP dispatch at 8:03pm EST on February
"In a statement Tuesday, Turner said
the comments 'were reported out of context, and I deeply regret any
pain they may have caused. I abhor violence in any form and
wholeheartedly support the campaign to free the world from the threat
"'The attacks of Sept. 11 were
despicable acts,' he said. 'I in no way
meant to convey otherwise.'
"Officials from The Providence Journal
and The Brown Daily Herald stood by their reporters' stories, which
were published Tuesday.
"'The reporter who covered Mr. Turner's
speech is a highly competent professional,' said Carol J. Young, the
deputy executive editor of The Journal.
"'I was at the lecture and I heard it
and I don't think anything he said was misinterpreted,' said Seth
Kerschner, editor in chief at The Herald. Kerschner did not cover the
lecture as a reporter."
For the complete AP story:
The February 13 Brown Daily Herald also
noted Turner's statement:
Atlanta Constitution story: "Turner
rues words 'reported out of context'"] -- Brent Baker
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