“I’m sorry,” says ex-AOL Time Warner CEO Levin

January 5, 2010, 2:57 AM UTC

What theater! Jerry Levin went on CNBC’s Squawk Box this morning, a decade after the merger of AOL and Time Warner , and confessed: “I presided over the worst deal of the century, apparently.”

Gray-bearded and skinny, Levin called for lots of public-company CEOs to step up and say, “I’m really very sorry about the pain and suffering and loss that was caused. I take responsibility.” About himself and the wealth-obliterating deal: “It wasn’t the board. It wasn’t my colleagues at Time Warner. It wasn’t the bankers and lawyers.”

Levin, 70, praised former AOL boss Steve Case–who sat beside him on set–as “a brilliant, young digital entrepreneur.” He placed the main blame on execution, saying about the combined AOL Time Warner: “It was not a supermarket. It was a mall.”

“That’s the problem with Citigroup ,” he added. “That’s the problem with AIG . That’s the problem with GE .”

How odd is it that these two ex-masters of the media universe are now far away from it all…and making money off of other rich people who want to escape too? Levin runs Moonview Sanctuary, a personal-healing retreat in California. Case owns, within his company, Revolution, a bunch of upscale vacation spots, including the top-rated spa, Miraval in Arizona.

Hmm, if media is in crisis, are vacation hideaways the future?