I have read with interest and, I confess, with great disappointment, Daniel Schorr's article (Editorial Page, June 2), "Ted Turner at CBS Would Give Journalism a Black Eye."
My disappointment does not stem from Schorr's opposition to Turner Broadcasting System's proposed exchange offer for the shares of CBS, Inc. I do not expect a disgruntled ex-employee to support our proposal. My disappointment, rather, stems from the fact that the article is replete with untrue and misleading statements.
For example, in Schorr's article he "reports" as fact that: ". . . Turner ordered an interview to be arranged with an executive of Shearson American Express . . ." That statement is absolutely untrue. In fact, to this day I do not know whether any executive from Shearson American Express has ever appeared on "Pinnacle" or any other CNN program.
The article also implies that I had some role in the decision to retain former Gov. John Connally of Texas as a commentator for the 1984 political conventions to obtain some "fringe benefit" for myself. This charge, of course, is totally without merit. I had absolutely no role in the decision to retain Gov. Connally. That decision was made exclusively by the management of CNN and I was unaware of the decision until after the arrangements with Gov. Connally were finalized.
I frankly do not know what Schorr means when he alleges that I "lack . . . inhibition about mixing editorial and programming decisions with . . . business interests." He knows very well that the editorial integrity and journalistic independence of CNN are beyond reproach. The best evidence for these facts is that CNN has won every major award for excellence in broadcast journalism.
Contrary to Schorr's vicious suggestions, I am not bigoted or anti-Semitic. It is quite curious that he reports as fact that on my trip to the Soviet Union in the spring of 1984 I was "flippant about civil and human rights" and that he quotes me as having made certain specific statements. Since Schorr was not present on my trip to the Soviet Union (a fact that he does not disclose in his article), he could not possibly know with any certainty whether his report of my attitudes and statements is accurate.
If Schorr had asked me about these matters (which he has not), I would have told him that I was not, and never have been, "flippant about civil and human rights." I also would have told him that I believe in the civil and human rights of all people and that I deplore censorship.
During the nearly six years of Schorr's association with Cable News Network, I had faith in the accuracy and integrity of his reports. I now believe that my faith in him was misplaced. To paraphrase his article, his "uninhibited disregard for the traditional wall between" fact and fiction "raises troubling issues" in my mind about his reportorial style.
It is indeed sad to me that Schorr is apparently so embittered by his failure to reach a new employment agreement with CNN that he feels the need to write derogatory articles about me. I have been advised that I could sue him for libel. I may yet follow that advice. I am, however, inclined to think that I have better and more productive endeavors on which to spend my time and energy. Instead, I hope that Schorr and his bitterness will, like an old soldier, simply fade away.
Turner is chairman of the board of Turner Broadcasting System.