By KRISTEN WYATT
ATLANTA (AP) - CNN should cover international news and the environment, not the "pervert of the day," network founder Ted Turner said Wednesday as the first 24-hour news network turned 25.
Turner, an outspoken media mogul who started CNN in 1980 but no longer controls the network, said he envisioned CNN as a place where rapes and murders that dominated local news wouldn't be emphasized, but he's seeing too much of that "trivial news" on the network he created, now second in ratings to Fox News Channel.
"I would like to see us to return to a little more international coverage on the domestic feed and a little more environmental coverage, and, maybe, maybe a little less of the pervert of the day," he said in a speech to CNN employees outside the old Atlanta mansion where the network first aired.
"You know, we have a lot of perverts on today, and I know that, but is that really news? I mean, come on. I guess you've got to cover Michael Jackson, but not three stories about perversion that we do every day as well."
His remarks won applause and laughter from CNN employees, but the moderator for Turner's remarks, CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour, said: "But everyone else is doing that. Why do you think it's important not to?"
Turner replied: "Somebody's got to be a serious news person. Somebody's got to be the most respected name in television news, and I wanted that position for CNN.
"I wanted to be The New York Times of the airwaves. Not the New York Post, but The New York Times. And that's what we set out to do, and we did it."
The brash Turner acknowledged that CNN wasn't all highbrow when he was in charge, either. "We followed O.J. Simpson ... It was pretty trivial, but high-interest."
As usual, the 65-year-old Turner made his remarks with a roguish smile.
The media pioneer called CNN his greatest professional achievement.
And at one point he claimed partial credit for ending the Cold War.
Amanpour asked his if he honestly thought he had a hand in it.
"I'm absolutely certain I did," he said.