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CNN has been prepared for the end of the world since 1980

CNN end of the world tape

When Turner founded CNN back in 1980, he tried to plan for all eventualities – even the last days of humanity. Now the CNN end of the world tape has leaked.

When Ted Turner launched CNN 34 years ago, he wanted to be prepared for anything. Seriously, anything. Even the end of the world.

Turner had his fresh-faced young news staff create a video that was only to be aired in the eventuality that the apocalypse comes and the world is about to end. When the cable news network first launched, Turner described the decision to cover humanity’s end as such:

We’ll be on, and we will cover the end of the world, live, and that will be our last event. We’ll play the National Anthem only one time, on the first of June [the day CNN launched], and when the end of the world comes, we’ll play ‘Nearer My God To Thee’ before we sign off. 

Apparently, everyone thought that Turner was just speaking metaphorically. Not so much. The clip became something of an urban legend within the network. People joked about it, but no one really thought it existed. Until someone found it.

The video wasn’t exactly hidden, it just wasn’t easily found. The clip exists in the archives of CNN’s storage system, labeled under the name “Tuner Doomsday Video.” It contains the single restriction, “HFR [Hold For Release] till end of the world confirmed.”

The clip was uncovered by Michael Ballaban, a former CNN intern that now writes for Jalopnik. It was filmed in 1980 in glorious SD 4:3 ratio, and will presumably air only after the final gasp of humanity is deemed inevitable.

The video was first discovered back in 2009, but it only recently made its way back into the author’s hands through means he isn’t willing to go into specifics on.

The tape, which can be seen in its entirety below, features the song “Nearer My God to Thee,” which is supposedly the last song the band on the Titanic played as it went down with the ship. On one hand, Turner meant for it to be a mark that the station was prepared for anything. On the other, it was also a declaration that his cable network would outlast all competitors, and be there when the meteor slams into the Earth or the advanced AI decides that we’re just not worth the bother anymore. It was pride and a touch of arrogance – which actually sums up Turner fairly well.

The clip remains in the archives, hopefully never to be legitimately aired. At this point though, the odds are better that CNN will close down before humanity does. That’s not to say that humanity will continue forever, just that CNN’s ratings keep falling.

For now though, check out the video in all its 1980 glory, and hope you never see it broadcast on TV.



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Founder and DBP boss. Ryan likes the Kansas Jayhawks, long walks on the beach, and high fiving unsuspecting people.
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