As reported by Brent Baker in today’s CyberAlert, Wolf Blitzer was taken aback by CNN founder Ted Turner’s defense of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and his treatment of the North Korean people. Turner disputes Blitzer's charge that the North Korean leader's regime is "despotic", insisting, "he didn't look too much different than most other people." When Turner declared we should "give 'em a break," and insisted that North Korea poses a "non-existent" threat to the U.S., Blitzer suggested North Korean missiles could reach Alaska. In response, Turner stated: "Well, what, the Aleutian Islands? There's nothing up there but a few sea lions."
The full transcript can be found here.
Highlights from the Blitzer-Turner exchange:
Turner: "I am absolutely convinced that the North Koreans are absolutely sincere. There's really no reason -- no reason for them to cheat or do anything to violate this very forward agreement. I mean, I think we can put the North Korea and East Asia problems behind us and concentrate on Iran and Iraq, where, where we still have some ongoing difficulties."
Blitzer: "I've got to tell you, Ted, given the record of North Korea, especially the fact that, in the Clinton administration in '93-'94, they made a similar pledge, which they violated and they backed out of, I'm not exactly sure that I accept all your optimism."
Turner: "Well, you know, I was optimistic about the Cold War when I got to Russia, too. But I looked them right in the eyes. And they looked like they meant the truth. I mean, you know, just because somebody's done something wrong in the past doesn't mean they can't do right in the future or in the present. That happens all the, all the time."
Blitzer: "But this is one of the most despotic regimes and Kim Jong Il is one of the worst men on Earth. Isn't that a fair assessment?"
Turner: "Well, I didn't get, I didn't get to meet him, but he didn't look, in the pictures that I've seen of him on CNN, he didn't look too much different than most other people."
Blitzer: "But look at the way, look at the way he's, look at the way he's treating his own people."
Turner: "Well, hey, listen. I saw a lot of people over there. They were thin and they were riding bicycles instead of driving in cars, but--"
Blitzer: "A lot of those people are starving."
Turner: "I didn't see, I didn't see any, I didn't see any brutality in the capital or out in the, on the DMZ...Let's give 'em a break. Give 'em a break And besides, even if they do -- even if they do threaten us again, the threat is non-existent to the United States. They can't threaten us. I mean, it's like a fleet attacking an elephant."
Blitzer: "What about those ground to ground missiles that they have, and the CIA-"
Turner: "They can't reach us."
Blitzer: "Well, they can reach Japan. They can reach South Korea. They can reach a lot of our allies-"
Turner: "They can't reach the USA, and we can pound them into, into oblivion in 24 hours."
Blitzer: "But, you don't want to get, you don't want to get to that. There are some estimates, by the way, that could reach Alaska."
Turner: "Well, what, the Aleutian Islands? There's nothing up there but a few sea lions."
Blitzer: "Well, you know, this is a serious issue. I hope you're right, as I said-"
Turner: "I know it's a serious issue. I mean, I didn't go over there to waste my time."