SHORT TAKES : Book Recaps CNN, Warts and All

From Times Staff and Wire Service Reports

Robert Edward (Ted) Turner III, aka "Terrible Ted," is short on words and long on bravado, in the view of one writer.

He is that way even when someone is writing a book about his baby, the Cable News Network, the writer says.

"Ted's out there," said author Hank Whittemore, in what may be one of the understatements of the decade. "He's like a brief tornado in your life."

Whittemore has written "CNN: The Inside Story," a 308-page chronicle of the little network that could. Its release today by Little, Brown & Co., coincides with CNN's 10th birthday.

Some of the stories in the book have been told more times in more journalistic watering holes than Dan Rather's infamous seven-minute stroll off a live CBS newscast.

Take, for example, the time a light bulb exploded in the CNN Washington bureau and ignited the clothing of on-camera reporter Dan Schorr. Or the time weatherman Stu Siroka was victimized by the Chromakey process, which allows one picture to be placed behind another. All viewers saw was Siroka's bald head, suspended above the weather map.

Whittemore spent six months interviewing present and former CNN movers and shakers. His account tells a spirited and sometimes bizarre tale of how Turner, equipped with $100 million and even more chutzpah, screamed, bullied, sued, cajoled and bankrolled his way into television history by launching the first 24-hour all-news network.

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