The Political Fallout of the AOL Time Warner Merger

How much can the separation of a famous couple reveal about the future of U.S. politics?

January 11, 2000

How much can the separation of a famous couple reveal about the future of U.S. politics?

On January 4, the Washington Post published a front-page story about the Clintons’ move to Chappaqua, New York. Officially, this is so First Lady Hillary Clinton can be truly “at home” with her fellow New Yorkers — an inconvenient necessity if she wants to represent them next year in the U.S. Senate. Unofficially, it is taken to mean the nation’s first couple — long assumed to be at marital odds — will live apart from hereon out.

Meanwhile, in the Post’s “Style” section, the headlines announced that CNN mogul Ted Turner and activist-actress Jane Fonda had decided that, while not giving up on their marriage, they would undergo a period of separation. If you had bothered to read beyond the headlines of this story, you could have gotten in on an intriguing state secret.

The story revealed that Ted Turner thought very seriously, back in 1998, about making a run for the presidency. Evidently, Ted was left feeling rather dejected when Jane would not permit him to indulge this particular ambition.

One can easily imagine Ted’s thinking. To make it to the White House, you need convey the right level of experience. It is thus important to be married to the right woman — and Jane Fonda seemed an excellent choice. But apparently Jane felt it is one thing to play the wife of a U.S. President in a movie — as some of her Hollywood friends have done — and quite another to play the role in real life.

Under the circumstances, Ted had little choice but to split with Jane — and start to seek other outlets for his restless drive. You can hear him thinking, “Well, I’ve already got my U.N. Foundation going on in New York. And I can also be in the Big Apple for another board meeting of Time Warner/CNN — pardon, AOL/Time Warner.

“But who could I associate with to position myself optimally for the White House in 2004? Well, I’ve got all that influence in television. I could practically turn the CNN, TNT and TBS channels loose for any political candidate who needs it.”

And that is precisely the moment when Ted realized that all he has to do is to throw his lot in with … Jane Fonda’s counterpart in the political world. Obviously, that person is none other than … Hillary Clinton, pardon, Rodham.

We know that Ted, as a good Southerner, actually likes to deal with tough women. And there surely is no person in America who is more skilled to manage a womanizer to the residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. “You’ve done it before with that Billie-boy,” Ted concluded. “Now do it to me, baby.”