RUSH: This is Sunday morning on Meet the Depressed. Tom Brokaw was interviewing the founder of CNN, Ted Turner. Brokaw said, ‘Did you think at some point during those early days of CNN that it was really a fool’s mission, that you couldn’t pull it off?’
TURNER: I thought through very carefully for several years and went over all the things that could go wrong. Because even before I started CNN I knew what the greatest threat to it would be and that was a right-wing news network and in fact Fox came along and was the greatest threat. And I had a solution to that, and that was Headline News. When I first heard that Fox was going to get started, I could have taken Headline News and transferred it over to a right-wing network and hired Rush Limbaugh and let it be the right-wing network and preempted Fox.
RUSH: It didn’t happen. In fact, I’ll tell you, there’s a funny little story about this. Shortly after my TV show expired, we quit it after four years, that would be 1996, and Fox started in 1996, Ailes started Fox in 1996, and it was 1998 or ’99, I forget which, CNN was floundering around trying to find some CEO to run the place. They hired Walter Isaacson who had been running the show over at TIME Magazine, and Isaacson had an emissary call me and say, ‘We want to consider having you on a Sunday morning show.’ At the time they were doing their own little one-hour football pre-game show. They knew I liked football so, ‘We’ll put you on the last 15 minutes of a football show and you’ll have a Sunday morning show that you do leading into something else.’ I listened to him. I met with him a couple times. And Roger found out about it, and he called me, ‘You going to CNN?’ ‘No, I’m just listening to them. You know what I think about television. I’m just listening to them.’ ‘If you do it, I’m going to counter-program against you. I’m going to have to kill you. I don’t care. I might be your best friend, but if you go out –‘ ‘I’m just talking to them.’
So Roger called Maureen Dowd and gave her a quote that lives to this day. He said, ‘I just heard that Isaacson is talking to Limbaugh. I guess he’s had to hire his own security inside the CNN building,’ because nobody else at CNN new about it, it was not a popular thing, and that shut it down, there were no more — (laughing) I can’t laugh — there were no more talks.