A CNN "doomsday" video, long discussed but never seen publicly, was published today for the first time by Jalopnik -- a minute-long rendition of "Nearer My God to Thee," performed by the Armed Forces marching bands and intended by founder Ted Turner to be played at the very end of the world (after the national anthem).
"People thought he was joking. We have proof that he wasn't," wrote Jalopnik's Michael Ballaban, a former CNN intern. The video will be the thing "the last living CNN employee will be required to play before succumbing to radiation poisoning, the plague, zombies, or whatever crazy end Turner saw coming."
According to Ballaban, the video lived on an internal archive and was hardly inaccessible -- he said he found it one day during his internship in 2009, though it came with a stern, red-letter warning: "[Hold for release] till end of the world confirmed."
"I can't really say where we got it, but it wasn't something I've been saving since ," Ballaban said.
As he noted, Turner's "signoff" has been referenced in news stories since at least the late '90s, including a spotlight in The New Yorker. “I keep this tape around because when the world ends it'll be over before we can say what we wanted to say. Before we can leave any final messages," Turner said then.
And Turner's idea of a dignified exit on the precipice of doomsday has infected other media: a parallel sequence -- eccentric media mogul broadcasts pre-taped goodbye to the nation -- pops up in "Gremlins 2."
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This story has been updated with Michael Ballaban's comment. The top of the story and headline have been edited for clarity.