(The following article first appeared in the February 2, 1994 issue of the now-defunct alternative newsweekly, Downtown, when CNN was still controlled by Ted Turner)
One reason Newsday [which was purchased by Cablevision in May 2008] didn’t focus too much on former CNN President Tom Johnson’s historical LBJ connection during the early 1990s was that then-CNN President Johnson was a former top executive of the Los Angeles-based media conglomerate that then owned Newsday during the early 1990s. As the first edition of Everybody’s Business noted in 1980:
“In 1977 boy wonder Tom Johnson…White House fellow at 23, assistant presidential press secretary at 24, confidant of President Lyndon Johnson at 27, editor at 32, publisher at 33—took over the newly created post of president of the Los Angles Times. He was 35. Three years later he became publisher, the first nonfamily member to get the job, which had been held by Otis Chandler for nearly 20 years."
During the 1980s, former CNN President Johnson continued to rise within the Newsday/Times-Mirror media conglomerate. But in the early 1990s, Billionaire Ted Turner hired former Newsday/Times-Mirror Vice-Chairman Johnson to move to Atlanta, Georgia to head the Turner Broadcasting System [TBS]’s then-CNN subsidiary.
As How CNN Fought The War: A View From The Inside by Retired U.S. Air Force Major General Perry Smith noted, “In a remarkable coincidence,” then-LBJ Foundation Chairman Tom Johnson “came on board as the new president” of CNN on “the day before Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait…” Besides being CNN’s president in the early 1990s, LBJ’s former top aide and Newsday/Times-Mirror’s former vice-chairman also sat on the board of directors of the Turner Broadcasting System [TBS] and was a vice-president of CNN’s then-TBS parent company in the early 1990s. In addition, CNN’s then-President Johnson also sat on the board of trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation in the early 1990s.
Next: Downtown’s 1994 Interview With CNN’s Then-Public Relations Spokesperson