Media moguls destroy civilization -- more at 10!

Turner's $1 billion pledge to the U.N. leads Murdoch to retaliate -- nuclear winter settles over Earth -- stocks up sharply.

Published September 30, 1997 7:00PM (EDT)

Sept. 29, 1997: Media magnate Ted Turner announces a pledge to donate $1 billion over 10 years to the United Nations. In Time magazine, flagship publication of the corporation whose 50 percent stock increase almost entirely funded the giveaway, Turner says of his choice of recipient: "It's the organization that has the most reach and the most influence."

Oct. 10, 1997 (NEW YORK -- AP): Hours after Turner was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Rupert Murdoch stunned assembled News Corporation shareholders by pledging $2.5 billion to found the Union of Peace, an alternative world body committed to "fair and balanced conflict resolution, aimed at the three out of four nations who are sick and tired of the U.N.'s liberal bias."

Joined on stage by the leaders of Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan and the Seychelles, the U.P.'s first three "member affiliates," Murdoch downplayed industry speculation that the fledgling organization lacked the critical mass to challenge the U.N. seriously. The first cause the new group would embrace, Murdoch announced, would be "exploring the good things land mines do."

Nov. 16, 1997 (NEW YORK -- AP): Ted Turner upped his stake in the United Nations, purchasing a controlling interest in the world body, but dismissed speculation that his more active role was motivated by rumors that the well-capitalized but under-propertied U.P. was plying key U.N. members with sweetheart deals. "World peace is bigger than any pissing contest between two men," Turner told reporters. "And the Dodgers suck."

Dec. 25, 1997 (NEW YORK -- AP): Continuing to shock world-peace-industry naysayers, the News Corporation announced that 40 key U.N. members, including atomic powers China and Kazakhstan, would jump ship to affiliate with its U.P. division. The multibillion-dollar deal gives the U.P. a 40 percent market share of land mine and cholera victims. Asked whether he intended any symbolism by the choice of this day for the announcement, Murdoch appeared puzzled and replied: "Today? Today's Rupert fucking Murdoch day, is what it is." Pope John Paul II, attending the ceremony on behalf of new U.P. affiliate Vatican City, declined comment.

Dec. 29, 1997 (WASHINGTON -- AP): Congressional Republicans today gave further credibility to the surging U.P. by pledging $1.5 billion to the organization, then passing a joint resolution vowing to pay that debt "only over Jesse Helms' cold, dead body." Philip Morris later issued a statement confirming that it plans to continue displaying the stuffed corpse of the late North Carolina senator in the 72-degree lobby of its headquarters. Capitol watchers agreed that this made further Congressional action unlikely.

Feb. 12, 1998 (QUEBEC -- AP): In a move that analysts described as a bold reassertion of U.N./Time Warner vitality, blue-helmeted peacekeepers poured over the icy St. Lawrence River, putting down the separatist insurrection in this troubled province. Shares of Canadian U.N. shareholder Seagram's staged a vigorous comeback, rising 5 7/8. Questioned about the puzzling emergence of the 200,000-man UN force from secret bases in the American southwest, Secretary-General Turner shook his head and pointed to his ears, indicating that the rotors of his black helicopter were drowning out reporters' queries. In other news, lawyers for the U.P. filed a restraint-of-trade complaint, charging that Turner's realization of a paranoid conspiracy scenario was an attempt to undercut the box office of the "X-Files" movie, scheduled for release this summer.

March 13, 1998 (LHASA -- AP): U.P. peacekeeping troops swept over the Himalayas, overpowering rebel forces and declaring a 90-day "cooling-off period" in the Tibetan independence insurrection. In a grand gesture, Rupert Murdoch purchased the rights to the ballad "Candle in the Wind," commissioning lyrics to honor the recently repatriated Dalai Lama, whose death in the explosion of a mammoth fuel-air device U.P. investigators ruled a suicide.

In other news, Chinese officials today agreed to a five-year extension of China's contract with Sky TV. Murdoch denied that the Tibetan action was a show of force designed to convince the colonial government of Macao to grant Sky world broadcast rights to the Tyson-Holyfield rematch scheduled for next month.

March 25, 1998 (SOUTH CHINA SEA -- AP): As reports of bright hovering objects and unexplained upper-stratosphere explosions continued to come in from around the world, Secretary-General Turner reiterated his charge that the U.P. was testing treaty-prohibited weapons for use in the U.N./U.P. Tyson-Holyfield standoff. Secretary-General Murdoch, still fuming after the dismissal of News Corporation's "X-Files" suit, warned darkly that Warner Bros. was creating the disturbances as part of an all-out effort "to film a summer movie blockbuster so big it could plunge the world into nuclear winter."

April 18, 1998 (NEW YORK, SOUTH CHINA SEA, AND SEATTLE -- AP): As the broadcasting world continues to reel from the purchase of NBC by a heretofore-unknown organization identified only as "F.M.I.," Turner and Murdoch, during their daily briefings on the land war in South Asia, each charged F.M.I. is a front for the other. Other industry analysts suggested the purchase would be revealed as a long-awaited move by Microsoft. In a press conference hastily called to address the rumors, Bill Gates began glowing white, shimmered briefly and disappeared.

April 20, 1998 (WASHINGTON -- AP): President Bill Clinton made an emergency address tonight, imploring the two rival world-government organizations to "put aside their differences" and join the United States in responding to the repeated buzzing of commercial aircraft by brightly lit objects and the unexplained immolation of Redmond, Wash. U.N. and U.P. officials declined to respond. Clinton's address, carried only by UPN, finished last behind "Timecop," "Cybill," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Ally McBeal" and, in first place, three hours of pulsating light and oddly mesmerizing humming on NBC.

April 22, 1998 (MACAO -- AP): Mike Tyson, explaining that he "had children to feed" and was frustrated over the loss of television-broadcast revenues resulting from HBO and Sky TV's use of tactical nuclear weapons against each other, issued a tentative apology for biting Evander Holyfield's children in last night's melee. In other ne ALERT NIGHT DESKS BULLETIN SLUGIT CRAFT HOVERING OVE

April 24, 1998 (ORBITAL COMMAND UNIT Q^16 -- AP): Greetings, fellow citizens of Earth! The GhzHeri peacekeeping force is completing mop-up operations after ending the bloody conflict on our planet. Turner and Murdoch, leaders of the cowardly terror campaign, were found guilty of treason against humanity and their traitorous bodies were rent asunder and eaten by Lord Turg'go, GhzHeri commander-general and CEO of Federated Media Intergalactic (see Business Briefs for coverage of F.M.I. acquisition of Earth communications concerns, including the AP). It is good and right that their amino acids will strengthen Lord Turg'go in the struggle to maintain Earth-peace! Hail, Lord Turg'go! In other news, all humans are advised to catch the season premiere of "Ktultul Place" on NBC! Will Brt'h find out that K*var is incubating HMOrrH's larvae in her gestatory sac? It is good and right for all humans to watch NBC, consume snack products and grow fat and tasty! Communication ended!

By James Poniewozik

James Poniewozik is a Time magazine columnist on TV and media.

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Rupert Murdoch United Nations