Ted Turner was not only interviewed, but celebrated on PBS -- on April Fool's Day. The prank was apparently on PBS. It was as if Turner had a subversive mission, to prove that PBS isn't just for smart people. True to form, Turner walked off a cliff of rhetorical excess on the "Charlie Rose" show, charging that global warming was going to grow so severe that in a few decades, most of humanity would be extinct. "We'll be eight degrees hotter in 10 -- not 10, but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died, and the rest of us will be cannibals."
Charlie Rose should have been embarrassed, but wasn't. When Turner said during the show, "It's been a long time since anybody caught me saying something stupid," he should have administered a Breathalyzer test. Instead, at show's end, he delivered an homage to Turner's humanitarianism. Rose was still seated, but the tone sounded like he was bowing deeply to his guest's expansive intellect. "You're a remarkable man," he declared.
The global warming disaster-movie pushers always try to intimidate their opponents by insisting the finest scientific minds are all on their side. But Ted Turner is not one of the finest scientific minds in America. All you have to do is express the politically correct opinion, and PBS will treat you as one of the world's great sages.
PBS is a natural habitat for this kind of wild-eyed lunacy. The taxpayer-funded network has a well-worn reputation for providing gloomy -- and wholly inaccurate -- predictions from environmental extremists. In 1990, the PBS documentary series "Race to Save the Planet" featured another one of those lesser scientific minds, actress Meryl Streep: "By the year 2000 -- that's less than 10 years away -- the earth's climate will be warmer than it's been in over 100,000 years. If we don't do something, there'll be enormous calamities in a very short time."
Doesn't everyone remember the massive human die-off of 2000?
Al Gore went to Harvard with Erich Segal, the author of "Love Story," so he knows that being in love with the planet Earth means never having to say you're sorry when your doomsday pitches are massively, dreadfully wrong. But shouldn't PBS and other media outlets be held accountable when doomsday predictions they've facilitated from 15 or 20 years ago fail to materialize?
Liberalism is so impressed with its own brilliance that results apparently don't matter. There is the "enlightened" opinion, and there is the benighted opinion. When Charlie Rose interviewed Gore in 2006, he wondered about how President Bush could be so deluded about the impending warming disaster: "But do you know anybody who has temporarily tried to have a conversation with the president about this, in a way which you would consider an enlightened conversation?" Gore said Bush is an "incurious person," which is a patronizing way of saying he's not stupid, he just doesn't care as much about the planet as we do.
But can't it be said that Ted Turner is an incurious person? What has Ted Turner ever done to display his curiosity about free-market environmentalism? Eleven years ago, when he was still in charge of CNN, he wouldn't let opponents speak. It was bad enough that CNN (and TBS) had a habit of airing extremely one-sided eco-panic -- even with child indoctrination in cartoon form like "Captain Planet." Turner even had commercials opposing the Kyoto global-warming treaty pulled from his airwaves. They were apparently inaccurate for predicting that U.S. approval of Kyoto would dramatically increase gas and electricity prices for the American people. This was one gloomy scenario that Turner would not endorse. Despite its status as a prediction about the future -- just like Turner's -- it was denounced as a lie in the present tense.
The media, including PBS, are supposed to follow the truth wherever it leads. They can suspect that conservatives have an axe to grind. Fine. They ought to suspect the same from liberals. The media could make gains against their damaged credibility by simply revisiting environmental crystal-ball claims from 1968, 1978 and 1988, and answering the question: Were the doomsayers and their predictions of disaster right?
Instead, the media appear to all the world as trapped inside a hermetically sealed bubble of its own incuriosity. The Business and Media Institute studied global-warming stories on ABC, CBS and NBC in the second half of 2007, and found only 20 percent of stories even mentioned the mere concept that some disagree with doomsday global-warming scenarios. Skeptical scientists are routinely locked out, while Ted Turner is honored for his overwhelming gift of "enlightened conversation."