Ted Turner apologized Friday for CNN's flawed report about U.S. troops using deadly nerve gas against Vietnam War deserters, saying the debacle had hurt him even more than his father's death.
"If committing mass suicide would help, I've even given that some consideration. Nothing has upset me more probably in my whole life," Turner told a Television Critics Association gathering."I'll take my shirt off and beat myself bloody on the back" with a whip if it would do any good, he said, adding: "I couldn't hurt any more if I was bleeding."
He offered his personal apology to military veterans and anyone who was damaged by the "NewsStand: CNN & Time" story that claimed U.S. troops used nerve gas against Vietnam War deserters in Laos in 1970.
Turner, who founded the news network in 1980 as part of his TBS empire, said he believes the story was wrong, although the CNN producers responsible for it, Jack Smith and April Oliver, have said they stand by it. Both were fired and a third producer quit.
Turner saw the story after it aired and immediately had questions about its accuracy, he said.
"I feel horrible about it. CNN was my baby from the very beginning," said Turner.
Nothing has hit him harder than the erroneous story, Turner said - not his father's death, his divorces or his Atlanta Braves baseball team losing to the New York Yankees in the 1996 World Series despite a two-game lead.
Nevertheless, he defended the network's decision to limit its punishment of veteran reporter Peter Arnett to a reprimand when others connected with the report were fired.
Arnett, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Vietnam War as an Associated Press reporter, has said his involvement in the story was limited to appearing on camera and that he did not do the reporting for it.
"His past courageous contributions weighed heavily in the decision to spare him from resigning or being fired," Turner said, citing Arnett's work covering the Persian Gulf War for CNN.
Turner noted that the news channel has installed safeguards to prevent a recurrence of flawed reporting, including an oversight panel.
Now vice chairman of Time Warner, which had merged with Turner's media company, Turner said he plays a "kind of supervisory, consulting role" for CNN.
Turner was appearing before the critics' group to promote "Cold War," CNN's upcoming 24-part documentary on the Cold War.