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Primary Sources: Ted Turner: Respect for Everybody

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The maverick who brought the world 24-hour news on his Cable News Network (C.N.N.) described his attitude toward democratizing information and global understanding.

From the time I was about 12 years old till I was 40, approximately, I traveled around the world [sailboat] racing. I got involved in international competition -- first, national competition and then international competition. And as a sportsman traveling to Australia and Europe and so forth, I met people from other countries and spent more than just a few days. I'd usually spend a week or so. And I would get to know the local people. So I really got a very good perspective on how the world and other countries, and other people, operated. And I gained a great deal of respect for them....

It was very clear that they were very similar to us, even when I started meeting people from the other side of the Iron Curtain in the Soviet Union and in Cuba and other places like that. It gave me respect for everybody. I'd already been taught, growing up in America, respect for other people's religions and political beliefs... And then when I met people from all over the world, I had respect for their political and religious beliefs as well. And that's how I became a global citizen...

[C.N.N.] was a democratization of information. For the first time in the history of the world, every world leader, and everybody in the world, had access to the same information at the same time. I can remember when I said, "We're going to Africa." And they said, "Why are we going to Africa?" There was no satellite television in Africa, hardly any except to the major broadcasters... I said, "Africa is the poorest part of the world. And there's no way you can be poorer than being information poor. They have to have access to the same information at the same time as the western world..."

I worked on ending the Cold War, that's what the Goodwill Games were all about. I particularly worked on program exchanges and-- and athletic exchanges and business exchanges. I went over and spent a lot of time in the former Soviet Union and China and Cuba, you know trying to end the Cold War. I just thought now that I got this whole satellite system up and I was really starting to make some money, what a tragedy it would be if there was nuclear war. We'd all be blown up. All my customers and my family and me. And I figured if we ended the Cold War, then we'd have a better chance of living to be a ripe old age. And here we are; we're still here. I mean, it's still dangerous, but we made it for the last 30 years.

Excerpt from an interview of Ted Turner by Linda Garmon, WGBH Educational Foundation. Videotape recording. Atlanta, Georgia, March 9, 2004.


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