Ted Turner Talks To The 'Jesus Freaks'

ByABC News

March 8, 2001 -- The Mouth of the South may have struck again.

Ted Turner, who in the past has managed to insult Christians, Poles, blacks and women, among others, called Catholic employees at a CNN gathering "Jesus freaks," according to Fox News and the New York Post, which is owned by the network.

The occasion was a meeting in the Washington newsroom prior to a party for departing broadcaster Bernard Shaw, which took place on Ash Wednesday.

Turner, who is co-founder of the news network, took notice of a few foreheads smudged with ash, according to the report.

“I was looking at this woman and I was trying to figure out what was on her forehead,” he reportedly said. “At first I thought you were in the [Seattle] earthquake. I realized you’re just Jesus freaks.”

‘As Dumb As John Rocker’

The Catholic League rushed out a statement condemning the alleged remarks.

“He may be just as dumb as John Rocker, but unlike the Atlanta pitcher, he occupies a position of significant influence in our culture,” said Catholic League president William Donohue. “ That is why we look to his superiors at AOL Time Warner to denounce Turner for his relentless attacks on Christians. Indeed, they might want to take a page from professional baseball and ship Turner off for some sensitivity training.”

Turner, Donohue noted, has made anti-Christian statements in the past.

“Like all repeat offenders, Turner evinces an animus against a particular portion of the population. For him, it is Christians whom he despises,” he said.

Turner once said that if he ever met Polish-born Pope John Paul II, he would ask him if he’s ever seen a Polish mine detector — and show him his foot.

He later apologized to Catholics and Poland, after that nation’s government threatened to end its cooperation with the news network over the incident.

Donohue said he accepted the apology last time, but added that he might not this time.

The Mouth Of The South

Turner, now vice chairman and senior adviser of the AOL-Time Warner conglomerate, has also called Christianity a religion for losers.

He apologized for that incident as well.

Over the years, Turner has repeatedly lived up to his nickname as “The Mouth of the South.” At a news conference to announce the AOL-Time Warner merger, then Time Warner chairman Gerald Levin even joked that he was turning over the microphone to Turner “with some trepidation.”

Turner did not disappoint, saying he signed over his Time Warner shares to consummate the merger with “as much enthusiasm” as when he first made love to a woman 42 years before.

Over the years, Turner has managed to insult Christians, blacks and women, and once compared media magnate Rupert Murdoch to Adolf Hitler.

When Time Warner cost-cutting efforts left 1,000 people without jobs, Turner told magazine editors that he was in favor or raising deposits on cans and bottles, giving people an incentive to pick up trash and redeem the empties.

"Those 1,000 people we let go — it would give them something to do," he said, according to Business Week.

In addition to creating CNN, the first 24-hour news network, Turner is a champion America’s Cup skipper. He also stunned philanthropic circles by pledging to donate $1 billion to United Nations charities. He is also owner of the Atlanta Braves, which features in its bullpen problem child Rocker.

Turner recently separated from his third wife, actress Jane Fonda.

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