Saara Dutton has had a run in with Ted Turner. She still works in the car-chase-and-lost-girl-obsessed, morally-outraged-anchor-filled world of cable news, but no longer has the responsibility of handling the chip chart.
My first job out of college was as an entry-level Video Journalist at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. For this honor I received a paltry salary of $20,000 a year.My mother was convinced that Ted Turner took great satisfaction in my slave wages. In her eyes he was a ruthless, penny-pinching fiend who micro-managed his network to an extreme. Whenever I'd complain about anything at CNN, she'd blame it all on Ted Turner personally.I'd say, “The bathrooms on the third floor stink.”She'd reply, "That Ted Turner. Not cleaning the toilets," as though he were a shiftless janitor.I'd say, “The Brunswick stew in the cafeteria gave me gas."She'd reply, "That Ted Turner. Makes his employees fart all night with his food," as though he were in the kitchen stirring the stew himself.I'd say, "I hate working the 7pm to 4am shift."She'd reply, "That Ted Turner. Exploiting you kids for his own pleasure," as though he were perched in his penthouse apartment at the Omni hotel, watching me enter the CNN Center as he cackled, “Boy I love seein’ that Dutton girl on this miserable shift!"While I didn't necessarily blame Ted Turner for my lot in life, working at CNN was the root cause of my empty wallet. Still, I became indignant one night when a weather reporter bestowed some left-over holiday party peanuts on the VJ crew. Naturally, none of us peons had received an invite to her party. Eyeing those pathetic Ziplock bags of Planters mix, I was livid. Was this any way to treat your professional colleagues? Scattering picked over peanuts in our script-ripping area?But one by one my co-workers’ eyes lit up as they exclaimed “Peanuts!” and happily wolfed them down.It was a lost cause.We were literally working for peanuts.