Academic journal article Journalism History

Citizen Turner: The Wild Rise of an American Tycoon

Academic journal article Journalism History

Citizen Turner: The Wild Rise of an American Tycoon

Article excerpt

Goldberg, Robert and Goldberg, Gerald Jay. Citizen Turner: The Wild Rise of an American Tycoon. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1995. 525 pp. $27.

Ted Turner, the manicallydepressed son of an abusive alcoholic father who killed himself with a bullet in the head, spent most of his life trying to be good enough to win his father's approval.

The Goldbergs' Citizen Turner talks about how he saved animals as a child, considered saving souls as a teenager, and ended up trying to save the world. His erratic anger and abusive treatment of nearly everyone in his life is explained with a pop-psychological analysis. Turner is so egocentric and manipulative along the way that it is hard not to think he wants to save the world so there will be customers for his advertisers. Ecological destruction or nuclear annihilation would be bad for his business; and much of Turner's life has revolved around the business of selling viewers to advertisers. But the Goldbergs see the unrepentant emotional bully as having been saved by aging, lithium, and the true love of a woman who is his business and visionary equal, Jane Fonda.

While there is considerable evidence for a bad-boy salvation tale in the book's hundreds of interviews and its synthesis of previous material written about Turner, the significance of his impact on journalism, television, or society can only be inferred. Obsessive, controlling and making high-risk financial deals from which he is bailed out by money from Ginzu knife ads, he gains entree to elite power circles "almost in spite of himself," according to the Goldbergs. …

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