Thursday, January 27, 2005

Ted Turner on Hitler

Ted Turner has never heard of Godwin's law:

CNN founder Ted Turner, never shy about speaking his mind, has compared the ascent of Rupert Murdoch's Fox News to the rise of Adolf Hitler before the second world war.

"Adolf Hitler was more popular in Germany than the people who ran against him," he told a conference of programming executives in Las Vegas.

"Just because you are bigger doesn't mean to say you are right," he added. In a typically pugnacious speech, the 67-year-old billionaire also told the audience at the Natpe programme sales market that Fox had become a propaganda tool for the Bush administration.

"There's nothing wrong with that," he said. "It's certainly legal. But it does pose problems for our democracy. Particularly when the news is dumbed down, leaving voters without critical information on politics and world events and overloaded with fluff. We need to know what's going on in the world. A little less Hollywood and a little more hard news would probably be good for our society."

Fox hit back in equally confrontational style. "Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network, and now his mind," a Fox News spokesman said.

That's it in a nutshell, the level of debate in this country. Sadly, Turner is right on several counts. Popularity does not necessarily equal truth, Fox News indeed does biased reporting and sloppy analysis, and it produces misinformed viewers as shown by a recent study. Then there is the whole story about the lemmings to keep in mind here.

Mentioning Hitler exacerbates the communication problems, though, because Hitler is regarded as evil personified. Ted would have been more successful if he had moderated his comments somewhat. Maybe Mussolini? Just kidding.