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Encore Presentation: Interview With Diane Sawyer

Aired June 21, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Diane Sawyer of ABC News, the only network anchor to interview Scott Peterson. Gives us her thoughts on that case and on the million-dollar scandal that she's unraveled. Diane Sawyer for the hour's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Every time she graces our cameras, she improves the scene. She's Diane Sawyer, the co-anchor of ABC News "Good Morning America," the co-anchor of ABC News "Primetime Thursday." And this Thursday, tomorrow night, she's going to have an exclusive two-hour special report about the British television show, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" and a scandal involved with it. It airs tomorrow at 9:00 Eastern. We'll talk more about that later and what she uncovered.

Let's deal with first things first. Why do you think, Diane, not just America, the world is so caught up in the Laci Peterson case?

DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: You know, I don't think everybody can figure out any one of these events where we suddenly all become -- we become so fascinated by details that you can walk up to each other almost at parties and start in the middle and people know all of the references that you do.

I think it is, at the end of the day, a detective story, of course, which we love. It's also about a person who's somewhat mysterious. And I think people wonder, well, you know, what I know about my son-in-law, what I know about my husband. And they follow along with it, you know, almost as if they could solve it somehow.

KING: Does it have something to do with middle class and white?

SAWYER: Well...

KING: Someone asked me if this were, say, a poor black person in Shreveport, Louisiana, and the circumstances were the same, would we be covering it?

SAWYER: You know, I think that we all look at these -- we look at the fact that every day there are stories like this. And some get chosen and some don't.

KING: Yes.

SAWYER: Is it about socioeconomics? Is it about race sometimes? And is it about somebody beautiful? Laci Peterson's so beautiful. You know, it's probably often a combination of factors that makes one -- one intrigue more than the other.

And I think in this case, too, it's also about these families involved because the families seem so moving to me, and they seem so -- each of them to believe so ardently.

KING: I know. And they love each other, the two families.

SAWYER: Well, they -- I think they feel strongly for each other in this moment. So that's part of it, too. That's part of this drama. It's like Tolstoy.

KING: Yes. How did you land the Scott Peterson interview?

SAWYER: You know, I was in California at the time, and I had -- how's this? I had just interviewed Lisa Marie Presley. And I was out there, I think, at the moment that Scott Peterson decided that he wanted to talk and that his family decided it would be a good thing for him to talk, too. And so it was really almost just a coincidence of timing and what they felt was what they wanted to say.

KING: Is it hard to go into that kind of interview without any preconceived notion?

SAWYER: Yes. I mean, no, it's not hard, and yes, when you go in, you don't have preconceived notions, if you're me, because to me, the interesting thing is always to challenge and see if you can find a fact that will change your mind about something, to test and see if you can.

I mean if we just go in and sort of color code it and fill in the blanks, to me, that's -- that's not exciting. What's exciting to me is to be in the middle of an interview and say, oh, that is something I've got to think about. Oh, people didn't know that.

KING: What'd you make of him?

SAWYER: Well, you know, he was such a complex guy. At this time, as we know, she was not -- her body had not yet been found. And at this time, he was sometimes extremely composed, just talking to me very factually about her. And at other times, he would -- he would dissolve in tears, not be able to pull it back and cry for a considerable amount of time. Sometimes we even stopped the camera when he did.

He also -- this is the time that he talked about Amber Frey, the girlfriend. And this was, I believe, the first time he'd ever said to anybody that he had told his wife about her. And so we had a lot of questioning and answering about her reaction to it. Was there an argument? Had something precipitated a struggle of any kind between them? And kept saying over and over again, no, she didn't like it, but that she handled it very well.

And I, of course, kept saying, you mean to tell me somebody pregnant and at Christmastime and married to you as long as she was married didn't -- didn't -- wasn't upset and didn't care? And he kept saying, you know, She was dealing with it. She was dealing with it.

So I think for everybody sitting at home, it was still somewhat mysterious, and I think some of the psychology behind it -- at the same time, he was surrounded by his family, who were so impassioned about the fact that it was impossible, simply impossible that he did this.

KING: Did you gather him to be sincere? Did you get a read?

SAWYER: You know, I didn't come away with a verdict. I don't do verdicts. But I tried to present all of the facts. And at the time, the family was very compelling about other possibilities, people who had seen her in the park and things that the police hadn't followed up on.

And I thought that they really also made some really good points about -- about some of the evidentiary material that had not been followed up on the other side.

You know, if I go in there and interview and start deciding sincerity, as opposed to...

KING: I know.

SAWYER: ... deciding -- you know, this -- is he responding to this question? Is this fact something I can check? I wouldn't trust me.

KING: How do we know that?

SAWYER: Right.

KING: Yes. Was it a tough edit?

SAWYER: No because it was -- it was very much as it happened in the interview because I had so much to talk to him about. You know how it is when someone hasn't spoken at all, and you get a chance just to ask all the questions that we had been sitting at home debating.

So no, it just came one after the other, and to ask about the baby, to ask about the reports that he was carrying something out under a kind of dark tarpaulin and ask about the reports of blood in his car, to ask about what was going on in the kitchen, the curtains pulled. I got a chance to ask all of those things for the first time. So it just got to play as it lay, pretty much.

KING: How did you feel personally, knowing him, after the body was found?

SAWYER: Well, again, I think there's a whole other interview to be done, isn't there? And at the time, he...

KING: Yes.

SAWYER: I did ask him at the time how he felt about the fact that they thought -- and this was when they thought they had seen something at the bottom, you remember, when they were...

KING: Yes.

SAWYER: ... doing the sonar searches.

And he said, you know, that, Why are they looking there? Why, basically, are they wasting their time concentrating there, when there were sightings of her in the park nearby here?

And so there are a lot of things to ask him about how he feels now.

KING: CNN did a poll. I wonder how you'd react to this. Sixty- five percent of the respondents said they thought Peterson was being treated unfairly by the media.

SAWYER: I think that's -- I think that that's very impressive. You know why? I think it's impressive that viewers, despite this -- this almost rush to judgment -- and we all feel it because, you know, just, as I say, the story has a plot, and the plot drives the story, and everybody wants to cram the facts into the plot.

I think it's really impressive that the viewers, who see all of this, will say, now, stop and wait. Remember, you know, this is innocent until proven guilty, and there could be all kinds of things we don't know yet.

KING: But also it's hard to conceive that someone would do this to their own wife, right?

SAWYER: Well...

KING: I mean, it's just hard to conceive.

SAWYER: Wife and son, first child. And also, as I say, I think his parents have been so impressive, his whole family out there saying, we're watching. We would sit together and talk and express doubt if we felt that -- there is no possibility that he did this.

KING: What do you make of Geragos' entry into the picture?

SAWYER: Well, I know -- I've been watching, as you have, that at one point early on, he was saying some -- some things that are...

KING: On this program.

SAWYER: Yes, on this very program! But you know, he's a lawyer, too, and he can look at the facts and say, hey, this -- you know, every dot isn't -- isn't -- every "I" isn't dotted here, and there isn't every string connected to another string. And that's part of his job, too. This is when the whole system has to work, and everybody has to go back to square one and say, let's just ask every question again.

KING: Are you surprised that in the broadcast media, at least, it pushed Iraq away? SAWYER: Well, I don't know that it pushed it away completely. I think everybody -- everybody, in a sense -- everyone will live with what we just went through with that war. I think it's still very much part of our heartbeat, as a nation, and will continue to be.

I think, in some ways, people have followed it a little bit with their fists clenched and hanging onto their chairs. And maybe it was just a little bit of a relief, too, for a minute, to be able to say, all right, there isn't as much danger anymore, and we can spend a moment on something else.

KING: Do you think when that -- if that trial is telecast, it'll be round the clock on all the all-news channels and that your own, ABC, will be devoting a lot of attention to it, too?

SAWYER: Well, of course, we won't be 24 hours because we won't be like you...


KING: I think we'll do it more!

SAWYER: I was going to say, I think you'll be there, don't I?

KING: Let me get a break, and we'll come back. By the way, don't forget tomorrow night, we'll be asking about her it in a little while. She's going to air an exclusive two-hour special report about the British version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" And that was the original. They -- the show was conceived in Great Britain, and a scandal involved with it. Diane Sawyer is with us. We'll come back with more right after this.


SAWYER: Did you murder your wife?

SCOTT PETERSON, LACI PETERSON'S HUSBAND: No. No. I did not. And I had absolutely nothing to do with her disappearance. And you use the word murder and right now every one is looking for a body. And that is the hardest thing, because that is not a possible resolution for us. To use the word murder and -- yes, and that is a possibility. It's not one we're ready to accept and it creeps in my mind late at night and early in the morning and during the day all we can think about is the right resolution to find her.



KING: We're back with Diane Sawyer. Her big show tomorrow night, two-hour special on ABC's "Primetime Thursday" about a scandal in "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." We'll be asking her about it in a while.

Tell me about -- she was on this program last night -- your impressions of Lisa Marie Presley. SAWYER: Oh, you know, I thought she was so startling because I've spent a little time with her before, but I'd never had a chance just to sit down and listen to her talk unedited. And she is really -- well, as she said to me, you know, she just says what comes...

KING: Yes.

SAWYER: ... into her mind, and it's always sort of surprising, in this day and age of really careful people, to meet somebody who has decided she's just going to say what she feels like saying.

So I think it was kind of a shock to a lot of people the first time they got to hear her talk, be really funny, be so tough on herself, which she was, and be absolutely fearless about talking about Michael Jackson and all the other things you'd think she'd run and hide behind a potted palm on.

KING: Did she mention how nervous she was about her first interview with you, when she was with Michael? Because she discussed it last night on this show.

SAWYER: Yes. No. She did, and she kept saying to me again that something happened after that interview, that she did go back and this kind of reality started seeping into her mind about what she had done, but that it wasn't her. She looks at it now and says, That really isn't me. Who is that person there who had bought into some other reality altogether?

KING: Diane, what's your read on him?

SAWYER: Michael Jackson?

KING: You talked about fascination before -- and our fascination with him.

SAWYER: I think, at some level, we know that he is multiple people and that, as she would be the first to say, you know, the guy talks like this all the time and is very shy. Hello?

We all know that underneath that is a very tough businessman, as she'd be the first to say, someone who is extremely calculating, and that there is not a lot that he does that he hasn't strategized way, way, way in advance.

And I think, in some ways, he got completely subsumed to his career early on and disoriented by a thousand things. And it is this combination of -- of seeing him, of being suspicious of so many things around him, and at the same time, having seen what may have created him that haunts us. And what may have created him is, you know, this crucible of fame at a very early age and a tough childhood.

KING: You get the feeling there's still more to come?

SAWYER: Yes. Don't we all?

(LAUGHTER) SAWYER: And we don't -- I don't -- I don't know that there are others out there who have been on payrolls and who have been paid by him for various things, but I think there's always been that rumor out there that there's something else. We don't know what it is, but there's something else.

KING: The Dixie Chicks. How did that come about?

SAWYER: Well, they were getting ready to go back out and do their concert and they knew they had to sit down and so I had a chance to go down to Texas and talk with them.

You know, I just read this story. I know you all have been reporting it all day the last couple of days. Apparently some DJs now have been fired...

KING: Yes.

SAWYER: ...because they contravened the order to ban them and actually played their song? I mean, as a...

KING: That's crazy.

SAWYER: Well, the Dixie Chicks were saying that they want somebody to remember that in the year -- the year 2003 when we were at with Iraq, that people were arguing about the Dixie Chicks? And there is a certain strange proportion here.

KING: Well what do you make of -- I mean, there were critics of the war in Bosnia when Clinton was president and nobody banned them. Why -- why -- why would some one be stopped from expressing an opinion when America has always had people express opinion? Why would there be a movement against them?

SAWYER: Well, I think every body was extremely inflamed and tender after September 11 and felt that so much was on this take. Our very survival was on the stake after that. And that going into Iraq, which -- which, you know, was a different set of political fact -- but nonetheless going into Iraq and feeling there were so many giant unknowns about chemical weapons, biological weapons, the huge numbers of troops moving in there.

And in that moment -- and they said this. I don't have to say this. But in that moment, in a foreign country, to -- to say what they did when they -- when they seemed to be so vitally connected to an audience that -- that feels that you have to just stand by the president. They seemed to be, as I say, sort of I guess, unambiguously connected to them.

KING: Yes.

SAWYER: I think the audience reacted startled at first and then in that way that we all have -- and we contributed to it, you know? All of us did too. And the way you just sort of turn and target something. That's -- you know, they may not be the problem. But for this moment they're going to symbolize. KING: And Natalie sure -- Natalie regrets it, doesn't she?

SAWYER: Oh, well she said that she really regrets the words she used about the president. She sure regards saying it in a foreign country and saying that way.

At the same time, she was not going to back down from what she felt were doubts that a lot of people had going in about the timing and whether there should be more -- more countries joining in. And she really felt that she had a right to ask some questions going in and that her questions, she felt, weren't being answered. So there was two different issues for her, but she shot off her mouth and, in effect, shot her foot -- herself in her foot. Yes, I think she does.

KING: When we come back, we'll talk about the war and the aftermath of it with one of our better journalists, Diane Sawyer of ABC News "Good Morning America." Her big special is tomorrow night. And as we go to break, here are the aforementioned Dixie Chicks.


SAWYER: Are you ashamed that the president of the United States is from your state?

NATALIE MAINES, DIXIE CHICKS LEAD SINGER: No, not truly embarrassed that, you know, President Bush is from my state. That's not really what I care about. It was the wrong wording, with genuine emotion and questions and concerns behind it.

SAWYER: Ashamed? Ashamed?

MAINES: I'm not ashamed that he's from Texas.

SAWYER: So what is the word you should have used? What are the right words about how you feel?



KING: We're back with Diane Sawyer, lots of bases to cover, and then we're going to discuss this scandal she's got covered for two hours -- that's going to be on for two hours tomorrow night.

Do you think we -- the coalition has to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

SAWYER: I think we're going to find a lot of evidence of progress on weapons we probably didn't know about one way or the other. You know, I've never felt, by the way, that we would walk in and find a suitcase, that we would walk in and find a complex particularly. I did think that it would ultimately have to be that scientists would come forward. And I know even today, there are more reports coming out that we've found some of the things that Colin Powell talked about before. But if we remember that the first time around, when we were told and the inspectors were inspecting, everybody was told that there was no -- no proximate nuclear weapon. And of course, it turned out that there was a proximate possibility of a nuclear weapon. And we only found that out from scientists. I want to know what the scientists say over there. I want to know from them what they were working on and not - and I'm not sure that we'll ever be able to document it from the kind of thing that they're doing out in the field.

KING: Was this a difficult war for you to report?

SAWYER: It was -- it was not difficult, it was - it was interesting to me that, first of all, we had this - we had a profound debate going on at the center of the country as we were going into it. Because the first Gulf War, I don't remember that profound debate.


SAWYER: This time, to go in with this number of soldiers over there putting their lives on the line and everyone still to be in a real - I guess a real arm-wrestle a lot of people back here at home, surprised me. At the same time, to go over there, be with the troops was unbelievably moving. And I came back on the Medivac with the first wounded coming out, stacked in their rows up there. And a haunting scene. And every single one of them said that the thing they regretted the most was not being wounded enough - being in pain, but not being able to go back and be with the family that they had over there.

KING: Are you glad you went?

SAWYER: Yes, I was really glad I went. I was in the Middle East three times during this entire period, and each time it was like a kaleidoscope. And you could see the whole thing shifting. And to be able to be there and to be with those troops is just - it's something that moves you for the rest of your life because they're so young, they are so dedicated and they are so much at the heart of what America is when it's great.

KING: What are your thoughts about embedded reporters?

SAWYER: I thought it was wonderful. I thought it was a wonderful new vantage point on the war. And everybody, you know, says, oh, you know, they got -- they got somehow surrounded by the story and couldn't see the whole story. Well, we were here looking from the outside in. There is nothing to be said that you can't have people at varying vantage points, and we can't talk to each other and one modifying course correct the other. I thought it was really important and an important breakthrough to be able to feel it, touch it, feel the speed of it, feel the dust of it, feel the heat of it as it was happening.

KING: War ain't going to be the same, then?

SAWYER: No, I don't think so.

KING: Ever. Never be covered again like -- it's going to -- it's going to -- we're going to soon be inside the bullets.

SAWYER: Well, I don't think we're going to have the armchairs and the maps and be sitting around and drifting (ph) through the ozone (ph) layer (ph) anymore. And that's important, too, to live what is being lived out in the field.

KING: How do you cover the aftermath? How much -- how much attention do you give to post-war Iraq?

SAWYER: We're giving some. I think in this period, it's very hard. It's a very complicated process going on. I think it's very hard to get people terribly interested for a lot of detail about it. I think people do want to know generally that we're moving in as fast as we can to move in with electricity, water and supplies. And there's certainly going to be a lot of interest in the extent to which we can help shore up a democratic process and what happens on the other end. Are there fundamentalists waiting in the wings?

But I think the nuts and bolts of it are pretty hard for people to follow. I think everybody wants a course correct check. They want to know what the course is. But I don't think that we're back in the -- you know, the -- the two-hour-morning mode right now of covering what's happening over there.

KING: Some other areas. What do you make of reality TV, "The Bachelor," "Mr. Personality," Monica Lewinsky hosting it? What do you -- what -- what do you make of all of this?

SAWYER: Oh, low common denominator. As Charlie Gibson will tell you, I'm an absolute -- he thinks I'm a disgrace. I watch it all. I love it all.

KING: You do?

SAWYER: I do. I do.

KING: Why?

SAWYER: I don't know what's the matter with me! I don't know.

KING: Well, it must -- why do you like it?

SAWYER: I think I like it because I like it -- I like the way it imitates something real. It isn't real. None of it's real. And all of these are sort of artificial indignations and artificial romantic responses and artificial heartbreaks. And there's something interesting about watching people imitate them. I don't know what it is.


SAWYER: ... "American Idol" I love.

KING: Why not watch soap operas?

SAWYER: Because those are actors. They're too good at it. I like the amateurs!

KING: Do you think it's a continuing wave or a passing fancy?

SAWYER: I think it's a passing fancy but not passing so soon. Every morning, you read about a new one, and every morning -- every morning, I read and say, oh, I'll watch that!

KING: Donald Trump's going to do one.

SAWYER: That's what I heard!

KING: Gives away what, a job.


KING: Two hundred thousand dollars and a job...

SAWYER: Right.

KING: ... for somebody...

SAWYER: Right. You know, somehow, he was born to that trade, don't you think?

KING: All right, how -- how big is SARS? How much attention are you paying to it? Where is it going to go?

SAWYER: I think that it's -- I think that it's big. But you know, I've felt something -- I don't know about you -- in covering it. I have felt the viewers -- and you all can e-mail and tell me if I'm right on this. I've felt the viewers sending a signal saying, watch it here. Be careful. This is something that if you trigger a panic, you really have to answer...

KING: Yes.

SAWYER: ... to people out in the country. And so you feel this great sense of responsibility to say, you know, this is a suspected case, not a real case, that this has been contained. This is not where you go out and walk in the street and, you know, suddenly people are dropping around you. So it's a real thing, but I think everybody has had a wonderful sense of -- of real perspective on it. I do, so far. You know, you've been reading these moving stories, too, about the heroism. Did you read about the doctor who struggled -- had SARS, and he was the only one who could treat the heart patients.

KING: Yes.

SAWYER: So he's propping himself up, trying to hold himself up in order to treat them. You know, out of this also comes our -- I think our rededicated sense of what it is to be a medical professional.

KING: Tomorrow night, Diane Sawyer will anchor the two-hour special on "Primetime Thursday." It deals with "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and a scandal in Great Britain. We're going to cover some other bases and then delve into that, and we'll be right back right after this.


SAWYER: They're getting the news. They're seeing the news of what has happened with the ground combat troops yesterday. They're seeing the news of the POW footage. And at the same time as they know that there is that footage, they've not seen the actual footage. I have, and as we know, it is really sobering stuff. But as they get the news of the POW footage, they say that they are simply more rededicated to the search and rescue that takes place out of here. In fact, just in the last 24 hours, they've been able to go in and rescue some special forces troops. So each one they rescue is a kind of consolation.



KING: We're back with Diane Sawyer. This big special airs tomorrow night. It's two hours. It's at 9:00 Eastern hour which puts the first hour right against us, so tape us -- or tape it and watch us.

What is this all about? What have you come across that gets two hours?

SAWYER: Well, you know, a lot of the work was done in England, I'm not going to take credit of this as an investigative reporter, but this story, my goodness, everybody in the office gathers around and can't stop watching. This is a huge case in England. In fact, talk about something that interfered with the Iraq war. And it is, like a game of clue. It's the professor, it's the wife, it's the major and who wants to be a millionaire winning the million dollars and all along the way was someone, the professor coughing the right answer. And when the professor got in trouble with the wife coughing the right answer. You have to hear this ask you have to see the reaction of everybody as they're trying to figure out what is going to here.

KING: Was anyone at ABC a little hesitant since the American version was on your network?

SAWYER: No. Not at all. I think everybody, first of all, they felt the millionaire people felt they examined security from every possible angle. And I think it's always nice when people have these enormous high tech securities that suddenly someone would come in with a cough and sort of blast the whole idea out of the place. So no, I think everybody was intrigued. Well, I'd heard about it. And I heard that there was a scandal. And I heard that they'd gone into court and there were convicts on this, you know. Not only that, apparently in the street, when these three people are walking on the street, various Britishers gather on the street corner and cough on them now. Every place they go turned to demonstrators, protesters, just coughing at them. And we're told they've been offered ads for cough suppressants. KING: I want you to explain to me how it worked. But first let's watch a clip. This is going to air tomorrow night, two-hour special report on who wants to be a "Millionaire" scandal watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you hear that cough or was it a cold or was it fraud?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I'm going to go with...

I'm not sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scotland Yard has been called in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Contestants at center of allegations over a disputed million pound win on the ITV quiz show...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They haven't transmitted the program.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The serving army officer and quiz show enthusiast who insists he should be a millionaire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am innocent. At end of the day I did not cheat.


KING: How did this story break?

How did the cough (UNINTELLIGIBLE) break?

SAYWER: Well, it was going to in the studio and by the way, this is the first time American audiences are ever going to see any of the tape because it hasn't been released over here. But in the studio itself, people kept saying these are the strangest approaches to answering question, because he would say I know it's not Paris, it can't be Paris and it's Berlin. And then there's Berlin and then there would be a cough on the word Paris and then he would say it's Paris. And you see the host over there going, but I thought you said, but what, but what?

And so people are confused and they decided he's sort of slightly loony. And everybody enjoys him so much. And then gradually the sounds engineers are saying, this is a lot of coughing.

KING: This is during the show.

SAWYER: This is during the show.

And they at one point tried to stop the show, but they examined some of the tape and said we don't have enough evidence here and it's a big deal if you stop a show. So they don't do that. And then afterwards they've discovered that one of the fastest finger contestants who sits around the rim there, had been eyeing the cough and had known the correct answers. And they'd been trying to time the cough as it came.

So, yes, afterwards they call up and we have the tape of this, the audiotape of the call to the major to tell him that they're not going to give him the million that in fact this whole thick has a Scotland Yard beat on it.

KING: You mentioned earlier there were two people coughing, the wife and the professor. There were two coughers. this sounds like a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) special.

SAWYER: It's true. I kept -- I kept saying I did interviews with them and no American has been able to do that. But I did interview (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I kept saying is there a medical condition called coughing on the right answer? I've never heard of this medical condition if it is. You'd think you'd cough on some of the wrong answer. But at the end of it what happened is they actually, when they started getting Scotland Yard in and examining where things were, and we'll show you how they took little strips of audience tape and played them to track down where they were in the room. And then at one point there's a question about popular culture and the cougher, the professor doesn't have an answer apparently, and so the wife for the first time suddenly seem to develop a cough out of nowhere. And you suddenly see her leaping in and coughing, too.

KING: Tell me, I puzzled, why is this a crime?

Why was Scotland Yard involved.

Why can't someone cough, and what law are they breaking?

SAWYER: The law they said they were breaking, the judge said actually that it was a short of shameless school boy prank, but it's fraud. It was fraud to go in...

KING: Obtaining money under fraudulent...

SAWYER: Obtaining money under fraudulent pretenses.

KING: Now, the show works were you can answer a, b, c, or d.

SAWYER: Right.

KING: Did they cough three times if it was c or did he cough when he mentioned each one of the possibilities?

How did the cough work

SAWYER: The way it would in almost every case, sometimes he knew the answer and you could tell that, too, but in almost every case, he'd go through the list of the answer. And he'd say, I think it's this one, but it could be that one, but it might be that one and a cough would come up, and you'd see him double back around and suddenly it would be that one. And then they also have tape recordings of what they say are answers being checked with people next to them. They say -- they argue that a nose blow was an all-stop signal. Stop, stop, you've misunderstood everything, stop. And they also argue that they believe at one point they were trying to get a pager system worked out. You know, those vibrating pagers and that he'd have a, b, c, d, strapped to his legs and they would vibrate at different times. Although you couldn't try to do that to me. I'd be trying to figure out which one it was.

KING: What was his defense?

SAWYER: His defense was this couldn't hear the coughs. And in that in room, they all agree there were almost 200 coughs of various people in that room. However, the professor was sitting 10 feet right behind him. And Scotland Yard said come on, 10 feet right behind you a guy everybody could hear coughing. You could tell who that was and you knew he was there.

KING: What happened on the million dollar answer?

SAWYER: On the million dollar answer, you have to see this to believe it, the way he veers around and starts out with one answer and then lunges over to the next one and the most host of the show said he'd never seen anything like this before. He kept saying you're the most amazing contestant I've ever had because you pick something and your then final answer is the opposite. You can't explain why.

But on the final answer, there is a little word, they say, at one point, there is a little word where it's checked by the person next to him and then he comes in and coughs him all the way home.


SAWYER: Right. And you know you have to see his face when we're interviewing him. I replay all of this for him and he looks at himself wing the million. And he's a very twinkly guy and he look at -- and it still says basically isn't that just a beautiful sight?

KING: Did they do it like the American version? Did he have options where he could call a friend? Did he ever use that option?

SAWYER: Oh, yes. In fact, you know, it was part of the contract that the American version would be exactly like the British version. I mean the clothes of the host are the same. So it was to the letter the same. I talked to Regis about it today too.

KING: Let me get a break and we'll come right back. More with Diane Sawyer right after this.


(UNINTELLIGIBLE) All right. OK. I'm not certain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The major isn't sure..

SAWYER (voice-over): But as he start his self-proclaimed do approach, do you hear anything? Listen carefully.


SAWYER: The audio is boosted on the background sound.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would have thought -- I would have thought that it would be Aristotle Onassis.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I'll just rethink this one for a moment. I'm pretty confident it's Aristotle Onassis.

SAWYER: Listen again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm pretty confident it's Aristotle Onassis.


SAWYER: The prosecution will one day argue that this is the beginning of a dazzling and brazen fraud.



KING: The great cough robbery. This airs on "Primetime Thursday" two-hour special tomorrow night at 9:00. "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" scandal in Great Britain. The host, of course is Diane Sawyer.

What happened, anybody go to jail?

SAWYER: No, the judge said at the end of the day because they all had children that he'd rather them go home and teach them not to cheat at games. And he gave them suspended sentences with fines and felt that humiliation, the national humiliation was enough.

KING: There is then, I presume, Diane, a lot of laughs in this show. Come on, it's fun.

SAWYER: A lot of love laughs. And somebody said to me, you know, I went to London to do it while doing the morning television and everything else. And somebody said why did you do this and I said it's so wonderful, so wonderful. No one suffered here. There is no one that you have to feel awoned (ph) from. This is just something to sit back, as we say, phone a friend and dial up your lifelines and sit down and watch this because it's really a ride.

KING: The wife had to be pretty smart.

SAWYER: The wife -- very smart and she was portrayed as Lady MacBeth in the press over there.

KING: Really.

SAWYER: She barely smiled for the whole thing. And you can see her eyes darting over and looking at the professor, they say periodically. She's really -- she's really, according to the British press, the mastermind. KING: So when they came to that show, they knew, first of all, he was lucky to be a contestant. Even though you're there, you still have to answer questions.

SAWYER: Well there's a whole group of people. I didn't know this, and they're sort of quiz heads, they call themselves. And they spend a lot of their lives figuring out how to get on these shows.

And she called 300 times. She was on it too, once. She called 300 times and he got a little box so he could practice his fastest finger thing and get on it, too. They really worked it.

KING: Help me out. Maybe you mentioned this. Did someone during the course of it say they're tipping them?

SAWYER: A couple of...

KING: Or did it happen after?

SAWYER: A couple of the contestants during it kept going, what is this? But nobody stopped it. And then behind the scenes, they -- yes. They were taking a look at the tapes. They were trying to figure out. They thought somebody maybe in the audience was signaling them visually. But no one could stop it because they didn't have concrete proof. That would come later.

KING: Now the cough, though. When we hear it played back on the tape you supplied it sounds loud. It wasn't that loud, was it?

SAWYER: No, it wasn't and we're going to show you the difference and try to approximate what at least we think that he would have heard if he had heard the cough from behind them.

KING: Is that show still on?

SAWYER: "Millionaire?" yes. It's on in syndication. Meredith Vieira is now hosting it.

KING: I know. No, I mean in Great Britain. Is it still a...


SAWYER: Big, big hit in great Britain and the host of it is a superstar over there. No, it's a big, big deal.

KING: When is your network ever going to put it on at nighttime again?

SAWYER: I hope so, because one of the things I discovered with this is that every time people walk by the edit room they stop and just watch "Millionaire." They don't know the story, necessarily, but it reminds you that maybe it was a little overexposed because it was put on so many nights. But it's a great show, still and everybody flocks to it.

KING: Regis, I know, misses it. SAWYER: Well, he was so wonderful at it. He was so good launching it.

KING: Perfect host.


KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Diane Sawyer. By the way, this special airs tomorrow night at 9:00. It's a two-hour exclusive on the scandal of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

As we go to break here is the very talented Miss Sawyer dueting with Mr. Stewart.


ROD STEWART, SINGER: Just keep going and bluff our way through and if it grinds to painful halt so be it.

SAWYER: I don't know why I'm saying I'm brave. You're the brave one. But here we go.





SAWYER: Each of you, yes, I want you to know you have your own camera. And we want you to let us know what you'd like to know about our lives. I've shown everybody with (ph) my mom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, that's right, when you went home?

SAWYER: Yes. When my mom took on my hair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which end of this thing do you shoot?

SAWYER: In the morning, we know that. And Tony took us along when he and his wife made a tour of Paris. We remember that. Robin (ph) aimed a camera at herself for her nightlife on the town with friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which end of this thing do you shoot through?



KING: What on Earth is that all about, this hundred count - what are you doing?

SAWYER: Well, you know, it occurred to us that we're always deciding what's important in people's lives and maybe we should let people tell us what they think is important in their lives. So we've got a hundred different people. We have cameras and they're sending us sort of daily reports on their lives. And some of them are so funny. Many of them are so moving and beautiful and a lot of them are really surprising about what people think matters every day in their lives and they're filming it for us.

KING: Are these mini-Osbourne shows?

SAWYER: Yes. I guess in a way. But this is not sort of fringe, hey, is this Sunday? Ozzy stuff. These are people in their homes telling you - we ask them questions like, tell us about your morning, what's the most annoying thing? What's the thing you love the most? Show it to us and let us have a conversation with you about it. And then we've asked everybody to e-mail us and let us know what they would like to know about our lives. So it's getting personal.

KING: How did you pick the hundred people?

SAWYER: It was a combination of being online, having dialogues with people about what we wanted and then some of them would write in. They winnowed it down through a long process.

KING: How did you like seeing yourself making your hair up?

SAWYER: Well, that's me, the bottle glasses, the hair. That was a segment we did where our mothers who complained about our hair nonstop finally got to do our hair. And we wanted to see what that was like. So we have to be brave. We have to be brave on television. What do you look like in the morning?

KING: How much - how much -- get over it. How much of "Good Morning America" is showbiz, how much is news? How do you look at yourself? Is it an entertainment program with news? Is it a news program with entertainment?

SAWYER: You know, it is a news program. And I have a liberal definition of news because I think news can be what excites people. And when you say, hey, I didn't know that, that that can be news, too. So I'm not a real -- I'm not very - what's the word, sanctimonious about what news is and isn't. And I think in the course of a morning and a two-hour show that we probably do as muscular a first half hour broadcast as any place on television, and the second half hour, too. And but during the course of the morning, we are also in people's bedrooms, in kitchens. And teeth are being brushed. And so you just have to be yourself. And that's what we are. I don't think it's about entertainment. I think it's about being ourselves.

KING: How long are you going to keep on doing it?

SAWYER: Oh, I don't know. I don't know.

KING: How long are you signed for?

SAWYER: I'm not. It's really about...

KING: What do you mean? SAWYER: In a sense, there's no -- nobody from the beginning has said, you have to do it to this date, give us a date.

KING: You have no contract with a date ending?

SAWYER: oh, I have a contract but it's not a commitment in the ordinary sense where I have agreed to this point because, as you know, Charlie and I came on to do three months four years ago. So it's always about our ongoing conversation. Are we enjoying it and is it what we want it to be, so.

KING: Is Charlie the same, he gets the same thing?

SAWYER: Yes. He does. We always talk a lot. We always talk a lot, too. We are just impossible. You don't want to be around us because we say, oh, the day we're tired, can we do this anymore? We can't do this one more day. And then something happens and we laugh. And you can't get rid of us.

KING: With the "Today Show" on an extra hour, are you thinking about it?


KING: Absolute no.

SAWYER: Absolute no. On that I'm sane. I'm not sane on a lot of things. On that I am.

KING: That's because on most ABC stations "Regis" does follow you, right?

SAWYER: "Regis" follows us and "Regis" is great. And we're really committed to what we do in two hours. I'm not sure that with "Primetime" at night as well that we could do justice to another hour. I don't think we could.

KING: And Mike Nichols is fully adjusted to your getting up early?

SAWYER: Mike Nichols is adjusted to my hours now. I leave him a note every morning. He leaves me a note every night.

KING: That's nice to know.

SAWYER: Yes. That's right. We're like those -- what? We're like those...

KING: Ships.

SAWYER: Yes. Ships passing in the night. We're also like those Victorian people who didn't like to see each other. They just left these beautiful notes.

KING: Thanks, Diane. Always great seeing you.

SAWYER: OK. You too. Thanks a lot, Larry.

KING: Diane Sawyer.



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