ad info

Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  





Bush signs order opening 'faith-based' charity office for business

Rescues continue 4 days after devastating India earthquake

DaimlerChrysler employees join rapidly swelling ranks of laid-off U.S. workers

Disney's is a goner


4:30pm ET, 4/16









CNN Websites
Networks image

Larry King Live

U.S. and China Face off Over Fate of U.S. Spy Plane's Crew

Aired April 2, 2001 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, her TV show has just been axed, but she's still making a lot of noise on radio. The always controversial Dr. Laura joins us in Los Angeles with your phone calls.

Plus, he is scheduled to be executed next month for the deadliest act of terrorism committed on American soil and he says he has no remorse. Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck went face-to-face with Timothy McVeigh; the result, a book that shocked the nation, and angered some of the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing.

But first, President Bush dispatches three warships to the South China Sea as Beijing refuses to return a top-secret U.S. spy plane and its crew. We'll hear from Republican Senator Fred Thompson, member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Democratic Senator Joe Biden, ranking member of Foreign Relations. All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with the situation in China with Senators Fred Thompson in Washington and Joe Biden in Wilmington. Senator, I know the administration is not sending people out to discuss this. Do you have any information you can give us up to date later than what we know, Senator Thompson?


KING: Senator Biden, do you know anything more...


KING: ... than what's been reported?

BIDEN: The only thing I know is that we have crews in Japan waiting to go repair that aircraft. We have consulars that were able to come down from Beijing. They're on the island, seeking access, and as I left, Fred would know this as well as I, as I left, the expectation was by tomorrow, which would be sometime tonight our time, at least there should be some access to some, if not all, the crew.

KING: Senator Fred Thompson, what's your read on this?

THOMPSON: Well, it's a little bit perplexing. It's difficult to see what the Chinese expect to get out of this. I think the plane was clearly in international waters, and clearly, that big cumbersome aircraft of ours didn't divert into their plane. It was the other way around. They had to make emergency landing.

International norms, protocol, so forth, would certainly dictate that they would give us access to our people, that they would leave the aircraft alone, and why they are waiting and risking an incident over this or a serious diplomatic standoff is a little bit perplexing.

KING: Can we honestly say, Senator Biden, positions reverse, this accident occurs, say, in international waters off Florida and they land in Florida that we wouldn't be searching the Chinese plane?

BIDEN: Well, Larry, let me point out, this is an accident waiting to happen. There was a demarche made to the Chinese back in December. They've flow within 10 feet of our aircraft. This was inevitable.

The Chinese have to grow up, it seems me, to be very blunt about it. They want to be part of the international community. The fact is we are spying on them. We're checking them out in the South China Sea and their Navy. They've got to understand that. We have to understand that they're going to be following our flights.

But this is this is an incredibly immature action on their part. There is no doubt in my mind or I guess Fred's that they're combing that aircraft. Our expectation and hope is that much of the most sensitive material was able to be dropped over in weighted bags so it's not available. But I'm sure they're on that plane combing every inch of it, photographing and measuring it.

KING: But as with the world of spies, Fred Thompson, isn't it true that if positions were reversed, we would be doing the same?

THOMPSON: Well, I don't know. I think it would depend on...

KING: We wouldn't inspect the plane if it were a plane we didn't know anything about.

THOMPSON: Well, if it was against the rules, so to speak, and we had the things pending that China now has pending, I think there's a very serious question about that. I mean, they want the Olympics over there. They are before the human rights convention in Geneva right now. They're always very sensitive about that, of course, and for good reason.

The Taiwan arms sale situation is pending, and the national missile defense debate is just gearing up, and they are very much opposed to that. They must think that by acting this way since the incident, that this will give them some leverage with regard to those matters, but I would think that the opposite would be true, and actually, they are handling it very unwisely, even from their standpoint.

BIDEN: Larry, I would agree with that. I mean, there's no excuse why they couldn't provide us immediate access to the crew. Even though there is a consular agreement we have that says they have do it within four days, there's no reason why it couldn't be done immediately, and the way in which they're dealing with aircraft, they could have at least finessed it even better they did.

There was a mayday. This was a landing at a base that's a highly classified base of their own, but it's not like it was done because there was any other option. I think Fred is right. I doubt whether we would have acted this way. I believe we would have given immediate access to crew, and I think they're making a serious mistake.

KING: Do you think the -- do you -- do any of you have -- either of have you suspicions about the incident itself or do you accept that it was a pure accident -- Fred.

THOMPSON: Well, I don't have any information to cast any doubt on that right now. As Joe indicated, they've had been getting more and more aggressive, over some time now. In fact, we've registered a protest that their planes were getting so close.

As Joe says, these are flights that are normal, have been going on a long time, and their tracing with their jet fighters is also normal, but they have become more and more threatening, and it looks like they just apparently got too close. I have no reason to believe they deliberately rammed the plane, and lost one of their planes, incidentally, in the process.

KING: Senator Biden, where do you expect to go with this? How, in your estimation, is the administration dealing with it?

BIDEN: Well, I think the administration is dealing with it correctly, being very firm. I hope that the Chinese aren't imprudent enough to keep us away from the crew for more than a day. I hope that they immediately begin allowing aircraft to fly to this base to repair this aircraft, and get it out of there.

My worry is if they do not do both those things, Larry, that Fred is correct, they will act against their own self interest and, in turn, I think generate responses here that might not be as prudent as they should be.

KING: Could this then, Senator Thompson, get larger?

THOMPSON: Well, it could. It certainly could. I think that it right now is a serious diplomatic matter, but it could be become a much more serious international matter if, for example, they decided to detain our people indefinitely. I'm afraid that they've gotten some wrong signals us. You know, we've had some debates on the Senate floor about our trade policies, and most all of us feel like we should be engaging with China as far as trade is concerned.

But we may have sent the signal that we value trade so highly above everything else that we have turned a blind eye to their proliferation policies. They're arming these rogue nations. We just had to go into Iraq and take every situation down there where they furnished Saddam with a fiberoptic system; Iran; they've outfitted Pakistan with nuclear capability, factories and so forth. So, we may have given them reason to believe that we were going to be a little soft with them.

KING: Thank you both very much -- Senator Biden, quickly, yes?

BIDEN: I disagree, I think they're just not sophisticated enough. This is new to them. They have not dealt in this arena. I think it's just bad judgment, and I hope they get this straight real quick.

KING: And we'll keep you up-to-date and posted. Thank you both, Senators Fred Thompson and Joe Biden.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

KING: When we come back, Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, they're co- authors of the very controversial new book about the Oklahoma City bombing. It includes major interviews with McVeigh. Don't go away.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Chinese must promptly allow us to have contact with the 24 airmen and women that are there, and return our plane to us without any further tampering. I sent a very clear message, and I expect them to heed the message.



KING: In a while Dr. Laura Schlessinger. But first, Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, both in our New York bureau, co-authors of "American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing." Both by the way, are reporters for the "Buffalo News."

Lou, how did you get the McVeigh interview?

LOU MICHEL, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN TERRORIST": Well, it took several years, Larry. I started with interviewing his parents, his father, going up to the house. Immediately after the bombing, and Timothy McVeigh's charges in it, I had gone out to Michigan, I came back and the state police -- there were squad cars all around the house for about two weeks, and then finally, they pulled away one day, and I was taking a long way to work, and, I saw an opportunity.

I went up, knocked on the door, Bill McVeigh came out, and, he was showing me back to the road, and out of nowhere this older neighbor came up, Wilma Donahue, and jumped out of her car and said, Bill, you don't know me -- and Bill stopped; he says, I remember you from counting money at the Monte Carlo nights at the volunteer fire hall.

She said, Bill, I'm just here to tell you that you have no control over your grown children and we are neighbors, we're community, we are here for you. She said it three or four times...

KING: How did that lead to your getting McVeigh?

MICHEL: Well, there was a sense of a dialogue that built up with this, and I treated Bill McVeigh and the family like people, not just a story. And ultimately, Timothy McVeigh called me up one afternoon, in August of '97, a few days before he was decreed the death penalty to criticize his lawyer for only -- for getting him the death penalty.

I had been writing to him almost weekly, and, I never -- I would never type on a type writer, I'd always do handwriting, I never went above him.

KING: Obviously, it paid off. Dan, what surprised you most about talking with McVeigh?

DAN HERBECK, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN TERRORIST": Well, the thing about Tim McVeigh that really astonishes you is if you talk to him for hours on end, you could be talking about the Buffalo Bills, the Buffalo Sabres, all kinds of things, and he will seem very affable and so normal for such a long time.

But then, when he starts to talk about the federal government, he gets a look in his eye that will chill you to the bone. And you know that this is the person that bombed the building in Oklahoma City.

KING: Let's look at some of his quotes from this extraordinary book. "I bombed the Murrah building. I like the phrase, "shot heard round the world," and I don't think there's any doubt the Oklahoma City blast was heard around the world." He also adds -- "A shrink might look at what I have to say and decide he's a psychopath or a sociopath. He has no respect for human life."

How do you explain this dichotomy that he is at once kind of normal, Dan, and then, bam, on the federal government?

HERBECK: Larry, that's really the biggest mystery of this whole thing. I mean, here is a guy who was a decorated soldier, and grew up with a childhood that was normal in most ways. And yet, this seething hatred of the federal government -- a lot of it had to do with gun rights, and also, the incident at Waco, the incident at Ruby Ridge.

These things just really shocked McVeigh into action. There is a lot of people that dislike the federal government, but, he just went into action beyond anyone's wildest nightmares.

KING: Another quote in the book, Lou, which leads to a question he said: "The victims are looking for some show of remorse. I understand and empathize with the victims' losses, but at the same time, I'm a realist. Death and loss are an integral part of life. We have to accept it and move on."

In that connection, Lou, there's a lot of criticism -- a lot of people in Oklahoma City, criticizing the both of you for writing this book, for giving him a voice. Your response?

MICHEL: Larry, that is a very tall order that he has given to the people of Oklahoma. And we do not share his opinion on that, we had an obligation, though to put in some of his thoughts; we didn't overstate them. But the fact is, he has no remorse.

I went at him 20 to 30 times different ways to get an apology. Because I knew some people in Oklahoma would want that. And he absolutely has no remorse.

KING: Do you understand, Dan, the criticism of some that you shouldn't have written this?


KING: Or do you not understand that?

HERBECK: Well, I understand people in Oklahoma City reacting with great emotion, to the words of Timothy McVeigh. But to say we shouldn't have written this book, I just don't agree with that. Because, that would be like saying, that reporters shouldn't have written about what Hitler was doing to the Jews in World War II.

This is history, this is a telling of a horrifying event in American history. And this book will be on library shelves 100 years from now.

KING: Lou, are you going to go to the execution?

MICHEL: That remains to be seen. I have no idea at this point if I'm on his witness list or not.

KING: He can put you there; right?

MICHEL: Yes, he can. He has that right. He gets...

KING: Would you go?

MICHEL: Yes I would. I'd follow the story, because as Dan said, we are journalists. And the important thing is for the American public to look evil in the eye. Evil deeds, the perpetrators, to try and understand what's happening.

You have all of these school shootings going on and a pattern emerges, They are bullied, they come from broken family bonds, they have rejection in their life, they are steeped in a culture of violence. Well, those four items you could place with Timothy McVeigh: fragile people. They don't have the support and they go in a direction that millions of other people may share his views, but they would never act them out.

And so, for us to turn our back on writing this book, we would be castigated by fellow journalists, and most of the American public, though we have a deep sympathy for the Oklahoma residents.

KING: Did you develop, Dan, any sympathy for him?

HERBECK: You couldn't develop sympathy for Timothy McVeigh, because of the way he spoke about the bombing. He is proud of the bombing. I mean, one of the psychiatrists who interviewed him, Dr. John Smith, said that when Timothy McVeigh speaks about the bombing, there is an excitement in his voice and he is speaking like a young man, about a successful science experiment. And that is the way it was for us, too. I mean, it just floored us; the things we heard during these interviews. KING: The book is "American Terrorist; Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing." The authors are reporters of the "Buffalo News," Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck. Thanks very much, guys.

When we come back, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, radio talk show host and has a new children's book out, "Growing Up is Hard" -- you're not kidding. Back with Laura right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About a third of the building has been blown away, and you can see this smoke and debris and fire on the ground, downtown on the ground.



KING: It's always great to welcome her to LARRY KING LIVE. She is Dr. Laura Schlessinger. She has written a series of children's books, the newest of which is "Growing Up Is Hard," terrifically illustrated, by the way, by Daniel McFeeley. We will talk about that and children and her radio show, but first, you lost the TV show. Are you depressed, down, angry? How do you feel?


LAURA SCHLESSINGER, AUTHOR, "GROWING UP IS HARD": Oh, I have so much to say about that. Truly, the feelings are mixed because what I discovered, if I discovered one thing doing a TV show, is that my heart is in radio. I love -- well you have live. You have the experience of the immediacy. If there's something want to brag about or talk about, it's there. I get a fax, I can immediately do something.

KING: You didn't like taping.

SCHLESSINGER: No, because, you know, I'd come in and say, this happened today. I want to talk about it. Well, it's going to air three weeks from now, so it's not really useful and that sort of thing. But I'm very proud of the product we had. Paramount is very proud. Unfortunately, it never even had a chance for the audience to decide.

KING: Why?

SCHLESSINGER: Well, because the advertisers were intimidated and threatened by GLAAD and their constituency...

KING: That's the gay group.

SCHLESSINGER: Right. So, they couldn't get advertisers because they were scared and upset. And so, the stations put me on at two in the morning.

KING: Yes, but they didn't start you at two in the morning, Laura. They started you in the afternoon hours.

SCHLESSINGER: Within three weeks because they couldn't make any money. They had no sponsors, so I was dumped at two in morning so they could put something in the time to make money.

KING: Everyone thought this would be a hit, with your name from radio, the enormous radio audience that you have, the slotting in middle of afternoon, because that's where most people played you. Why do you think it didn't? No, really.

SCHLESSINGER: Because it didn't stay in the middle of the day...

KING: You mean they should have stayed with it?

SCHLESSINGER: Well, they couldn't make money and you know how this business works. The show was wonderful.

KING: Yes, but if you had gotten super ratings the first week, you would you have made money because the sponsors would have bought.

SCHLESSINGER: The first week, we had good ratings.

KING: You did?

SCHLESSINGER: The sponsors were very much threatened off in advance of us even going on the air. The stations and Paramount hoped that once the show got on the air and people saw what we were doing that there'd be support.

But the political correctness that overpowers and overwhelms the United States of America today made it pretty impossible. You know, we did 130 shows. Nobody objected to any of the content in any of the shows. This was strictly about trying to destroy my voice.

You need to understand that GLAAD was disingenuous. They outright lied and misled Paramount. When they had meetings initially, they said to Paramount that all they wanted was that if I was going to discuss anything relevant to anything that they're concerned with, that there be another point of view.

What they came down to was that was not the truth. They simply didn't want my point of view. And so it was pretty effective, but my radio program, in the same period of time, went up 15 percent in the ratings. So that's very...

KING: Did you do shows about gays and present...


KING: Didn't do one?


KING: Mistake, right, because that's...

SCHLESSINGER: No. No. KING: ... what you're known for?

SCHLESSINGER: No, it was not a mistake. There were 50 million other issues. They were trying to pigeonhole me as though my whole life were surrounded by what their whole life is surrounded with, and I could do 130 shows, and each show I would say we had about 10 different subjects, multiply that out. There are a lot of issues to talk about that impact families.

KING: We'll talk about the book; we'll talk about Laura's feelings, if she has bitterness and the like; will she do TV again? We'll take your calls as well, and we'll talk about why growing up is hard. Don't go away.


SCHLESSINGER: One of my producers was shopping recently, and saw this little item. This is a toy liquor cabinet play set. It contains a full set of liquor bottles, they don't open; a cabinet to keep them in; and the glassware to imbibe. Why? I guess in case your fashion doll needs a cocktail.

It's been a tough day in playhouse, let's have a drink. This is teaching kids to drink through play and that blows my mind, and it blows my illusions what kids are being taught by adults and it's a good way to send them to Betty Ford's playhouse.



KING: Are you angry?

SCHLESSINGER: I'm angry that the people didn't get a chance to decide for themselves whether or not they wanted a show on morals, values, ethics and principals to be daytime. I really believe, still, that this program would have changed the face of daytime television, and elevate it from the scummy stuff it is now to something that, as you could see, was entertaining, but informative, informational, provocative, stimulating for people to lead better lives. So I'm sad that people didn't get a chance to decide for themselves.

KING: And is the anger directed at GLAAD; at the stations; at sponsors?

SCHLESSINGER: I don't spend time being angry. I've got a full life with a lot of things to do.

KING: You're not angry at all?

SCHLESSINGER: No, actually, I just finished another book that's coming out in September, "The Ten Stupid Things Couples Do to Mess Up Their Relationships." I'm a busy woman. I don't spend time on anger. I keep trying to create in different venues.

KING: So, toward GLAAD, what are your feelings? SCHLESSINGER: I disrespect them. I had worked with them in the beginning many times. I disrespect them now, and I think they're dangerous to society large for saying that they're for diversity and then working very hard to try to eliminate a voice that does not agree with their political agenda.

KING: But you apologized for certain things you had said about gays. Do you still stand by that?

SCHLESSINGER: I stand by the statement I put in "Variety" on Yom Kippur.

KING: Yes. Would you come back on television?

SCHLESSINGER: Don't think so.


SCHLESSINGER: No. I as I said, I developed a resurgence of affection for radio. It takes three hours to do a three-hour radio show.

KING: Correct. Did it for many years.

SCHLESSINGER: It takes 4 1/2 hours to do a one-hour television show, and, you know, I'm a racehorse, and standing at the gate that long makes me antsy. I'm built for the immediacy.

KING: Well, is there a way could you fit live television somewhere?


KING: Cable live -- you could you do cable live.

SCHLESSINGER: You know, I have my life filled with so many things. I'm working on more books. I have more projects with my foundation. As a matter of fact, this necklace that I'm wearing, these are Tibetan ornaments that I get and I put together three times a year, upcoming on Mother's/Father's Day we auction these off, and all the money goes to the Dr. Laura Schlessinger Foundation for Abused and Neglected Kids. You remember my stuff bag that I had here?

KING: Sure do.

SCHLESSINGER: Well, I'm earning the money to ship them through these necklaces.

KING: And these are for abused children?

SCHLESSINGER: The abused and neglected kids that are rescued into foster homes and crisis centers. They come out of their homes with nothing, and we give them these bags with toiletries and toys and books and what have you, and the real -- and people are donating these things, a hundred or whatever. I cannot tell you the outpouring of love across the country, and as I told you last time, the reason I wanted to do it through people giving and not just money and I go buy stuff is because when these kids open these bags, they can feel that somebody cared enough to knit this blanket and it makes them feel more hopeful.

KING: Has your radio audience, by the way, expressed anger for you?

SCHLESSINGER: Anger and concern, because the tyranny of this kind of action to eliminate a voice in a country that is supposed to support a diversity of opinion from groups who say that diversity is their point, that's very scary and you see that happening in a lot of places.

KING: But you stand by your opinion of being proud of the show and you don't think it was the content of the show that failed?

SCHLESSINGER: No, there was never anything in the show that anybody objected to.

KING: We'll be right back with Dr. Laura Schlessinger. We'll be including your phone calls and we'll talk about why growing up is hard. Don't go away.


KING: Laura Schlessinger now writes children's books as well, in addition to adult books and many other things, and the third in the series is "Growing Up Is Hard". This is written for what age group?

SCHLESSINGER: Well, the interesting thing is I thought I was writing these until about eight years old, and I had been getting letters from parents, they're sitting down -- because all the books are written as a dialogue between a parent and a child, and that's my intention -- that they are reading these with their teenagers and connecting with them in ways they hadn't before.

KING: But you did not have that in mind when you wrote it?

SCHLESSINGER: No, but gee, that's a good benefit! But "Growing Up Is Hard" for all kids when they start -- your kid is three...

KING: Two and 10 months.

SCHLESSINGER: Two? Well, by the time he is five, he is going to start realizing the world is not his oyster, and that there are problems, and people have expectations, and all of this starts becoming hard.

KING: That was true 100 years ago.

SCHLESSINGER: That's true. But 100 years ago, maybe, parents were there. Extended family was there. What's very difficult these days is in -- what was in the -- I think it was the "Los Angeles Times" business section today, they're talking about the teen magazines, and how they are getting raunchier and dealing with oral sex, and for 12-year-old girls telling them about boys' genitals, and things that you couldn't imagine anybody would get away with a few years ago.

Well, part of the article, one of the quotes was that the kids are being forced to deal with adult problems in an adult way. Parts of the reason is that adults are not around, taking on the adult responsibility. They are busy with their love lives and their careers, and our kids are mostly on their own, dealing at 12 and 14 with finding out which venereal disease they have, which was not an issue when you and I were munchkins.

KING: If you accept that, how do you reverse it?

SCHLESSINGER: Well, my radio show I think is one way to reverse it, because I'm constantly extolling the virtues of being there for your family.

KING: What if they have to work economically?

SCHLESSINGER: You know, you've asked me this every time...

KING: It's a fact of life!

SCHLESSINGER: ... if you have to, you have to. But the people I talk to who have given up the two-career families are the modest income folks. The modest income folks who are moving to where they can live on one income so they can be there to tend their kids.

You know, we have the school shootings, and there are a spate of articles and they say kids are alienated because parents aren't around, and there is no community. And you say, well, then parents be around -- well, I can't. You know, you got to choose one or the other.

KING: And is it harder another way -- of course, we can make a case that it's easier. You don't have learn the multiplication table. You just push some buttons. You got computers, information is readily at hand. You can you find anything quickly with the Internet and the like. That should make it easier.

SCHLESSINGER: No. It might make it easier intellectually to do certain math problems, but in terms of kids having families and communities where they feel bonded and special -- you know, we talk about the kids shot up the schools because people picked on them. Well, I was picked on because my mother was, quote, "a foreigner." I never met anybody that hadn't been picked on, but the difference was we came home and cried to our mommies and daddies and we had the love and support of our families who told us how to go deal with it. Now, our kids are dealing with that stuff on their own.

KING: How about those who say, again, these are statistics, and statistics can lie, that there is less violence today. Yeah, there are some school shootings, but there's less violence in America, there's less murder in America, there's less -- you are less likely to be hurt at school than anywhere else. SCHLESSINGER: You know, I am not going to argue when somebody pulls statistics out on me, I am just going to say, OK, but I think intuitively, we all know, that's not so. Our kids are getting pregnant at 12, getting venereal diseases at 11, getting abortions at 15. This to me is about their lives and deaths. They're not able to feel positive about getting married, about having families, about having children...

KING: And the blame for that is on what?


KING: Well, you're us.

SCHLESSINGER: Adults. Well, I'm working on the other side. I'm writing these books so parents can actually not just give the book to their kids to read, but to sit down with them and read it again and again, because it's a dialogue between the parents and kids.

If there is one typical question I get from parents is how do I discuss -- blank. Blank will be the most mundane thing! Well, you just sit down and bring it up. Well, I don't know how, and I'm busy, and the kid is busy, and we have them carted off doing things all the time, families don't eat together...

KING: Since the children are curious, you are not saying go back to the stork brought you, Henry?

SCHLESSINGER: Well, at 5 years old, I explained to my son penises, vagina, eggs and sperm, uterus and birth, in the context of marriage.

KING: Schools do that.

SCHLESSINGER: Schools should not be doing that.

KING: 5-year-old knows what marriage means?

SCHLESSINGER: Yes, because he is looking at one! He's looking at one!

Although I had a guy on the air today, he's got two kids and he's actually married to the mother of the two kids and lives in the same house. I said I was going to put him in the Smithsonian.

KING: What I mean is, don't you think -- first of all, you agree then sex education is important.


KING: You wouldn't teach it in a school?

SCHLESSINGER: Absolutely not, because they are indoctrinating our children into a lack of values with the sexuality.

KING: And what if they are not taught it at home? SCHLESSINGER: You know something? Let's be very honest. How many people were taught nitty-gritties at home who are 50 years old? You can probably count them on one hand. Yet, when I was in school, nobody was pregnant, nobody had a sexually transmitted disease, because we knew one important fact: our mothers and fathers would be disappointed, this is wrong, you don't do it. That was our sex education!

KING: But they grew up to be the parents of today, who you are knocking.

SCHLESSINGER: They evolved. Well, actually, no, because at 54, I would have kids that were older, I have a 15-year-old.

KING: No, but you are saying that these parents were a product of that system...


KING: ... which didn't have sex education.


KING: Look what it brought. Maybe they should have had it.

SCHLESSINGER: That's not a causal relationship, Larry. You can't say because they weren't taught...

KING: But you are in favor of education but not education? I'm trying...

SCHLESSINGER: I'm in favor of education? Yes, math, science, history, languages...

KING: But you teach your children sex at home?

Laura: ... computer science. And that's what parents need to do. Mostly, I have to teach him how to counteract. The kind of garbage he's surrounded by on television, in magazines, from other kids whose parents are married, divorced, married, divorced, shacking up, doing stuff, kids out of wedlock...

KING: So, if a kid raises his hand in class and says, "what is a penis," the teacher should say, "go home and ask your parents?"

SCHLESSINGER: In biology class, they'd clarify that, but that's not what they're teaching. They're teaching "don't do sex until you feel it's right." They're telling 14-year-olds "don't do sex until you feel it's right." That's not when it's time for them to have sex!

KING: That's a fact? You know this?

SCHLESSINGER: Oh, yes, I keep up on this, and I get tons of mail from parents all over the country whose kids are taken into sex education classes and indoctrinated in ways that are horrendous and offensive to them, and -- without their knowledge or permission. KING: Don't do it until you feel it's right?

SCHLESSINGER: Until you feel it's right. "Abstinence is good -- now, here is how you use a condom," not telling you that the primary cause for many women of cervical cancer is venereal warts, the HPV virus which goes right through the condom, and yet you have left really angry that the suggestion has been made that the condom is being labeled, just like cigarettes are, with caution.

Why? We are telling our children this is safe, and it's lie.

KING: Our guest is Dr. Laura Schlessinger. We are going to go to your phone calls, and her newest book for children is "Growing Up Is Hard," illustrated by Daniel McFeeley.

SCHLESSINGER: He is a genius.

KING: He is. Yeah, he's terrific. Don't go away, we'll be right back.


KING: Before we go to your phone calls, there was a bill in Colorado called the Dr. Laura bill -- it would have required parents who want to split up to go six hours of counseling over six months before divorce could be finalized. It originally required a year of counseling, but it was killed 6-2 by a committee. Do you think this could pass anywhere?

SCHLESSINGER: Yes. The representative who dealt with this told me he got calls from legislators from all over the country interested in looking at the wording, and trying to introduce it other places. There's enough of recognition that we are destroying our children by these divorce, divorce, divorce, and the kids are all over the place.

KING: But you were divorced. People get divorced.

SCHLESSINGER: Without kids.

KING: So if you had a kid you would have stayed married no matter what?


KING: Richmond, Virginia, with Dr. Laura Schlessinger, hello.

CALLER: Dr. Laura, I do like your program, I do value it. However, I often disagree with some of the things you say. But my question...

SCHLESSINGER: It's OK. It's not a requirement to agree with me all the time.


CALLER: Right. But my question is, you know, you are notoriously harsh with a number of your callers. Do you often worry about them after they've hung up and go about their lives? Particularly when you've kind of left them with a very hard and fast answer? Or, I remember one time you just suddenly disconnected with one caller because she just promptly and up front told you she was not going to -- she was going to put her kids in day care.

SCHLESSINGER: No. I never disconnected somebody because they said they were going to put their kids in day care. That's not true.

KING: All right. Do you ever worry -- it is pop psychology, in a sense.

SCHLESSINGER: No, it's not pop psychology. I'm dealing with morals, values, ethics, and principles. I'm not doing psychology on the air. That I have that background and that I'm licensed helps, in terms of me having an intuitive understanding, and knowing how to deal in dialogues in certain places, to get out information. But I'm really dealing with morals, ethics, values, and principles.

So I'm looking for the principle involved, not all the, "And then he said," and "she said," and the "we said." You can do that for 10 years in therapy if you'd like. But I'm here on the right and the wrong of things. And people don't call because they just ran across my phone number someplace. They listen for a long time. And they know, as one woman wrote me today, she knows that I'm going to tell it to her straight, no matter what the feelings are. And that's what I'm there for.

KING: Why do you think they call to be -- "abused" is the wrong word. Criticized.

SCHLESSINGER: They don't call to be criticized.

KING: Well, they know they're going to be criticized.

SCHLESSINGER: They are willing to accept the criticism to get some help with their struggle. They're not calling to be criticized.

KING: But you accept that it is a struggle.

SCHLESSINGER: Oh, of course. You know, I tell you, I have the utmost...

KING: Because you can make moral judgments, like, "I know and you don't. I'm smart and you're...

SCHLESSINGER: I have the utmost respect for people who are willing to struggle with a point. I mean, that's wonderful. That takes courage. That takes character.

KING: Gilroy, California, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Go ahead. CALLER: I would like to know how your husband felt about your views, and you come on kind of like a man basher, and I would really like to know what you have to say about that.

SCHLESSINGER: I think that's hilarious. I'm not a man basher. I'm an equal-opportunity basher. Gender is irrelevant.

KING: You bash everybody.

SCHLESSINGER: If they need bashing, they're going to be bashed.

KING: Does your husband share your views?

SCHLESSINGER: Yeah, we're both conservative in our views.

KING: Generally you raise your boy very conservatively?


KING: He goes to an orthodox school?


KING: He's how old, 15?

SCHLESSINGER: Fifteen, 6 feet and a half.

KING: You decide what he watches on television?

SCHLESSINGER: We have an understanding. I don't sit there -- and I can trust my boy, so he just understands that History channel, which he'd rather watch anyway. I mean, put up a documentary about some war -- Patton's his hero. He love that stuff. He just sucks it up. He loves the Animal Planet Channel, things like that.

KING: What would happen to him if he looked at an HBO film that had sex? Would he go crazy? Would something -- what would be your worry? What would be your worry if he had that, supposing he did?

SCHLESSINGER: It's not a worry because he's had 15 years of being grown up in our household with the values and perspectives we have, making sex something special, making intimacy something special.

KING: So nothing would happen to him? It'd be information to him.

SCHLESSINGER: But the more -- I don't think it's information. I think it's just dregs. And I think every religion on the face of the earth has commentary which says you do not take your soul and marinate it in trash, and expect it still to shine.

KING: What would "dreg" do to him, do you think?

Let's say he watched dreg, OK.

SCHLESSINGER: It would be just like if you stayed in a room with people who were constantly negative, and you're trying to be a positive person, and you're constantly surrounded by negativity, negativity, hate, and ugliness. It has an impact on you. Minimally, it's stressful.

KING: Constantly, but an hour of negativity wouldn't.

SCHLESSINGER: Well, why bother? Why not do something...

KING: To learn -- I learn from more experiences...

SCHLESSINGER: I'd rather he went out and skateboarded.

KING: Wouldn't you learn from more experiences than less?

SCHLESSINGER: Not necessarily learning anything of value.

KING: Wouldn't you learn from 10 channels rather than three.

SCHLESSINGER: Not on television.


KING: No? You wouldn't learn more -- more at your disposal, the more you learn.

SCHLESSINGER: No, I don't think so. I don't think every input is of value or adds to your soul, your character, your intellect.

KING: We'll be right back with Dr. Laura. In our next segment, we will try to get her to stop being namby-pamby.


KING: Her new book is "Growing Up is Hard." Don't go away.


KING: Dr. Laura Schlessinger is the guest. Torrington, Connecticut, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. My question for Dr. Laura is I'd like to know her opinion on the recent school shootings in -- throughout the country, and what her opinion is as far as parents taking responsibilities for their kids?

SCHLESSINGER: Well, that's probably my No. 1 fight of my life, in spite of what you read that my issues seem to be, that's my No. 1 issue, is the welfare of children. And I think we're real clear that kids have always been bullied, no big deal.

What we have are two things going on: One, a society in which our children are alienated and isolated. They're not involved in their families anymore. They're not bonded to their mothers and daddies anymore because they're so busy putting them in day care and curricular activities, and all of this stuff so that they can have their lives, so their kids can be ahead of everybody. And the bonding and feeling valuable isn't there, which makes it hard to be resilient to deal with the normal things in life.

No. 2, look what the media and the so-called (UNINTELLIGIBLE) do. They blame the victims, and practically canonize the perpetrators. This is a poor picked-on kid. If he hadn't been picked on, he wouldn't have done that. Instead of looking at evil and calling it such...

KING: The kid is born evil?

SCHLESSINGER: Born evil? You know, I don't know how to answer that question.

KING: Well, you said he's evil.

SCHLESSINGER: Yes, that doesn't mean he's born evil. I don't know how he gets to be evil. If I knew that, I'd get a Noble Prize.

KING: Wouldn't you want to know?

SCHLESSINGER: Well, I know that we've known for 40 years that by the age of three you can see certain characteristics of sociopaths. But that's not the same thing.

KING: And do what about it?


KING: Well, what's your answer? You see a 4-year-old and you think he's a sociopath...

SCHLESSINGER: When you have society which is perverse as ours, you look at what's on MTV, you look at what wins Grammys, you look at what our society promotes. You look at what's on the Internet, the hate, the viciousness, the violence, the disgusting stuff attacking people and all this horrendous stuff where children are sort of a stew of different vegetables or types of personalities, you know what I mean, it supports the worst coming out and the worst comes out.

KING: Oakland, California. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: My question for Mrs. Schlessinger is that considering your hard line on parenting and how you feel about day care, I was wondering if you are ever concerned about being a hypocrite considering that you are a working mother and have been for quite some time?

SCHLESSINGER: I love this question. I'm not asked it enough. I work while my child is in school. I have a two-parent family. If I'm doing something, he's with daddy, but basically, I have a raised my son. I am not a hypocrite.

And you know, that is so snotty because it would have been nice if you had just said, how do you do it, because then I could teach you something that you could use to help yourself and your family and your kid instead of trying to be defensive by attacking me.

That's what's happened in our country. Instead of asking how we can better ourselves, what can I learn from you to better myself; I don't want to hear that. I'm doing anything wrong, so I'm going attack you. That is exactly what's been going on our country, so people aren't willing to grow and learn.

KING: Dr. Laura, you will never go away.


KING: Always good seeing you.


KING: Dr. Laura Schlessinger; the new children's book is, "Growing Up Is Hard."

We're going to take a break and then we have a special phone call coming from Maureen Reagan. There's going to be testimony on the Hill about Alzheimer's. We'll get up-to-date about her own situation as well as her father. Maureen Reagan on the phone next. Don't go away.


KING: We're going to spend a brief moment or two here on the phone with Maureen Reagan, get up to date with how things are going. She is home from the hospital. First, on your condition. We know that it's been reported, you issued a release about a malignant melanoma, diagnosed first in '96. How you are?

MAUREEN REAGAN, RONALD REAGAN'S DAUGHTER: I am doing very well, Larry. I'm still in treatment, but the bio-chemo that I had at John Wayne Cancer Center seems to have worked, and here I am.

KING: Are you able to be up and around or are you confined to the house or can you...

REAGAN: Well, I'm still confined to the house because having been in bed for 4 1/2 months, I kind of have to learn how to walk all over again. But as soon as I get on my feet, I'm going to come see you.

KING: Was it touch and go ever?

REAGAN: Yes, it was. Yes, as a matter of fact, I had been given kind of the death sentence back at the beginning of the year.

KING: Really?


KING: What changed it? REAGAN: This treatment that they have at John Wayne that uses chemicals and chemo and some biological agents and, you know, you just hope that it's going to work and it worked.

KING: Side effects?

REAGAN: There were a lot of side effects. I was unconscious for the first two cycles.

KING: Boy. How is your dad?

REAGAN: He's doing great. He's doing terrific.

KING: Does he walk? Got a cane going with him now?

REAGAN: Yes, he was one floor above me in the hospital and I didn't get to see him.

KING: I know. Your mother -- your stepmother told me she was running back and forth.

REAGAN: Yes, she was. But he is walking in the garden, and he is just -- he's marvelous. He's absolutely incredible.

KING: There's testimony tomorrow on Capitol Hill. You would have been there. David Hyde Pierce will be there.


KING: You want money for Alzheimer's, right?

REAGAN: We do. One of the most important legs of the triangle of research is what Congress gives to the National Institutes for Health every year, and with the money that they spend, which is about $530 million, they can only finance about 25 percent of the viable grant requests that they get in a year, which means the science is way ahead of the money.

And so, we're losing at least two-thirds of the answers that are out there. So, what we would like Congress to do, because they have some money to spend, is in the next three years to get us to a billion dollars a year, starting with another 200 this year. And we believe that within five years, we're going to be able to push off this disease to buy people a lifetime.

KING: You're amazing, Maureen. You battle your own and still keep the fight up. Do you think if we ever cure Alzheimer's, whatever it is would be named for your father?

REAGAN: I hope so, because he certainly, in writing his letter, made it possible for people to talk about this disease.

KING: You get better real quick, Maureen.

REAGAN: I will. Thanks, Larry.

KING: We'll see you here soon.


KING: Hang tough.

REAGAN: Thanks.

KING: Maureen Reagan. That testimony is tomorrow on Capitol Hill. And on Tuesday night, haunted houses in America, no kidding: Real or myth or imagination. We'll visit a few, and we'll talk to experts and skeptics about investigating the paranormal.

By the way, for more info on upcoming guests, log on to my Web site, Stay tuned. The lights never go out on the mind of Larry King, I think. Stay tuned for "CNN TONIGHT" and good night.



Back to the top