Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Graphic New Photos and Video in Iraqi Prisoner Abuse Scandal; Interview with Senator John McCain; Interview with Kathie Lee Gifford
Aired May 21, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, graphic new photos and video of Iraqi prisoner abuse and graphic claims in previously secret sworn statements by those prisoners that they were sodomized, fondled and forced to eat food from toilets. We'll get reaction from Senator John McCain, the former prisoner of war in Vietnam and a member of the Armed Services Committee that's held hearings into all of this.
Also with us, Steve Coll, managing editor of "The Washington Post," which today published some of those new photos and some of those detainees' statements. Ronald Young, Jr., the former U.S. Army chief warrant officer, who was held prisoner in Iraq last year. Congressman Chris Shays, chairman of the National Security Subcommittee, and Congresswoman Jane Harman, ranking member of the Select Intelligence Committee.
And then, Kathie Lee Gifford, on the faith in God that's gotten her through life before and after Regis. And more. And she'll take your calls too. And it's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
A note before we start: President Bush will speak on the aftermath of Iraq on Monday night at the Army War College. That speech will air at 8:00 o'clock Eastern. We'll be on our regular time at 9:00, and Bob Woodward will be our special guest.
We open tonight with Senator John McCain, member of the Armed Services Committee, the decorated Vietnam veteran, former POW, and co- author of the best seller, "Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life." He comes to us from Phoenix.
What's your reaction to the photos, tapes and all that revealed today in "The Post"?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, Larry, of course, it's appalling and shocking, but when I was on your program about a week and a half ago, I believe it was, when this first broke, in our conversation, I said, look, one of the things you've got to do is get this all out, because if you don't, then it's going to dribble out and we're going to be subjected to this for a long period of time.
And what I said, unfortunately, is true. And I'm sorry to say I'm sure that there's more out there, and there's more that the military has that we just need to get it out, get it to the American people, let the shock be over, and then start the healing by holding those responsible accountable, and showing everyone in the world that America will punish those who are transgressors, and then move on. But I'm sorry to say, this is very predictable. KING: What do you say to those who say, though, if you do release it, you're affecting the trial of those who might be accused?
MCCAIN: Well, I'm not a lawyer, and I'm sure that you can get smarter people than me to talk to you about it. But when they show someone who's been -- a picture of someone who has been murdered, I'm not sure that that prejudices a trial. And so I don't -- enough pictures have gone out already, I would imagine, that that damage has already been done.
KING: Has the Pentagon told you everything you need to know?
MCCAIN: No, and I found out today that the Taguba report may not have been completely sent over to us. If that's the case, I'm disappointed in that. There's...
KING: What do you mean?
MCCAIN: It's our assessment that the entire report by General Taguba was not sent over to the Senate Armed Services Committee. And we need that complete document, and I'm disappointed if we haven't gotten it, and I hope we get it soon.
KING: What do you think the impact of this scandal is on the military, and the other people serving over there?
MCCAIN: Well, they're embarrassed and they're angry more than anything else, because they know that they've been doing a dedicated job. They've been putting their lives on the line every day, and this diminishes their heroism, their courage and their sacrifice. And they have every right to be angry about it.
KING: Was "The Washington Post" correct in printing it?
MCCAIN: We live in a free society and we have freedom of the press, and those judgments are made by the editors of "The Washington Post," and the subscribers. They don't have to buy the newspaper.
But I would say that it's logical, and I would imagine that "The Washington Post" will say that other media outlets also had this or were going to acquire it, so it was just a matter of time.
KING: You were a prisoner for a long time. Is poor treatment unique to any one race or country?
MCCAIN: We've always prided ourselves, Americans have, of treating prisoners according to the Geneva Conventions. We had German prisoners here in World War II in Arizona, and they come back for reunions here because of the way we treated them.
I think we embarked on a slippery slope, and understandable one, because these terrorists -- they're not fighting for a country. They're trying to kill innocent Americans. But I'm afraid we got on a kind of a slippery slope as to where to draw the line as far as treatment is concerned, and I think that started with Mr. Gonzales, the general counsel to the president. We need to clear this up. We need to establish clear lines.
And I do agree that there's a difference between terrorists who were captured -- al Qaeda terrorists who are captured and people who are captured in Iraq.
Here's where I may have a difference, though, and that if someone's wearing a uniform or not, if they're fighting for a country, then I think they fall under the Geneva Conventions. We've had many of our soldiers at various times not dressed in uniform as we carry out certain clandestine operations.
So I think we've got to clear it up, we've got to draw fine lines, and we've got to make sure that everybody knows that we are different.
And finally, the fundamental point here is, why do we respect the Geneva Conventions? One of the major reasons is because we want our men and women, if they're held captive, to be treated in a decent and humane fashion.
KING: A couple of other things. What do you make of this Chalabi story, a man -- chief proponent of us going into Iraq, close friends with people high in the Defense Department and the like, and then they raid his house after all. What's going on?
MCCAIN: I don't know. I knew for months that the State Department and CIA held him in very low regard. The Defense Department and the vice president had great respect for him. I don't know what's happening here. I'm worried about militias in Fallujah and I'm worried about a lot of things. And we're in a very critical time. I know that he did provide valuable information both before and after, and whether a lot of that information before was bogus or not is something that we're going to have to find out, but it's certainly a puzzling turn of events.
KING: Is there a question about whether it was valuable?
MCCAIN: I know that afterwards that his people and he were able to catch some of these people in the list of 55. I know that's the case. But I also know it's the case before the combat conflict began that there was information provided by him or his people about weapons of mass destruction that by all reports were not true.
KING: And the GOP house speaker, Dennis Hastert, made some rather rough remarks about you, he questioned your GOP credentials earlier this week after you slammed Republicans for pushing for more tax cuts when soldiers are sacrificing their lives. What did you make of that critique inside your party?
MCCAIN: Well, first of all, my critique was about the spending, as well as tax cuts. We are on a spending spree that's mortgaging our children's futures, and I feel very strongly about that. As I mentioned in my response to the speaker, I yearn for the days when the Republican Party was the party of fiscal discipline and conservativism. I understand that the speaker could be frustrated. He tries to get this budget through and he sees the obstacles. I've known Denny for many years, and I understand this tension. And I agree with him, that there's nothing that we do in Washington that compares to the service and sacrifice of these young men and women. I just don't want them to come back to a bankrupt country. We owe them a lot more than that, and we've got to make some choices, and we're not making any, and they're making the sacrifices. I just don't think it's fair.
KING: I'll make some news here tonight, I'm not going to ask you if you'd accept the vice presidency of the Democratic Party.
MCCAIN: No, categorically not.
KING: I didn't ask you.
KING: Thanks, Senator.
And one other thing, what do you think Bush has to tell us on Monday night when he's going to supposedly lay out the whole briefing of post-June 30?
MCCAIN: I think he also needs to lay out the plan that we have. A lot of us are not very clear on it. But he also has to do what he did with the Republican senators and congressmen yesterday. Say we've got to stay the course, say what's at stake, tell the American people that it's going to be rough, the benefits of success and the consequences of failure. I imagine he'll do a good job.
KING: Thank you, Senator, as always, good seeing you.
MCCAIN: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Senator John McCain. When we come back, our panel, and then Kathie Lee Gifford. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We live in historic times, when the will and character of America are being tested. We're at war with enemies that have many destructive ambitions and one overriding goal. They want to spread their ideology of hatred by forcing America to retreat from the world in weakness and fear. Yet they're finding that Americans are not the running kind. When this country makes a commitment, we see it through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back. Let's meet our panel in Washington D.C. At the the "Washington Post" is Steve Coll, the managing editor. "The Post" has new photos and videos illustrating abuse of Iraqi prisoners, plus details of previously secret sworn statements by 13 detainees. In Atlanta is Ronald Young Jr., former U.S. Army chief warrant officer, a former P.O.W. in Iraq.
In Stanford, Connecticut is Congressman Chris Shays, chairman of the Government Reform Subcommittee On National Security.
And in Washington is Congresswoman Jane Harman, ranking member, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
As we begin, two of the photos have surfaced this week in the Iraqi prison abuse scandal, they appear to show Americans gloating over a body. In one, Specialist Charles Graner of the 372nd military police is seen smiling giving thumb up. In the other Specialist Sabrina Harman, a member of the same unit, is in a similar pose. The identity of the body in the pictures is not yet known. And while the pictures have not been authenticated, the soldiers are among those already facing charges.
These pictures came out following the first court-martial in connection with the abuse. Steve, did you at all hesitate about printing this?
STEVE COLL, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, sure, we took a lot of care in deciding what to print. We possess now literally hundreds of photographs and only chose to publish half a dozen this morning. We continue to look through the evidence that we've obtained to decide what's relevant, what's in reasonable taste and what advances are understanding of the abuse at Abu Ghraib and the context in which it occurred.
KING: There's no doubt in your mind that they are authentic?
COLL: No doubt in our mind that they are authentic.
KING: Are you still picking and choosing and will more be printed?
COLL: We're still reviewing all of the evidence, including quite a lot of witness statements beyond those that we described in this morning's paper. So yes, we are continuing to evaluate. We are going to continue to publish new information over the next 24 to 48 hours.
As to the photographs and imagery themselves, at this stage, I don't see anything new in what we possess beyond what we published this morning. But we're reviewing it sort of hour by hour. We have a lot of work to do and a lot of material to sort through.
KING: Ronald Young, former army chief warrant officer, former P.O.W., what do you make of this story?
RONALD YOUNG, FRM. POW: Unbelievable, the pictures that are coming out now, one that really struck me today was the one where Graner has a guy in a headlock basically and it's very apparent that he had been punching this guy in the head because he seems to have worked up some sweat and I think it's detestable. And I can't really explain how angry it made me to see this. I mean I was shaken just to see what these guys would do to other guys. These aren't the guys that interrogate them, they have no reason to do this. This is purely a guy who is pretty much evil in a way.
He's been accused by his wife as abusive. He's also been on charges under the prison system here in the U.S. as being abusive and he's carrying it out over there.
KING: As we remember when you were last with us, you told us that initially you were treated a little rough in Iraq and then they were OK. Is that correct?
YOUNG: Yes, sir. I mean, initially, when they took us, of course, we received our fair share of beatings and being dragged through the streets and things like that. But after the interrogations were under way, and the Iraqis felt like they had received as much intelligence from us as they actually could, our treatment became much better. Of course, to get the information from us, they're going to treat us rough therein.
KING: All right. Congressman Shays, what's your read on what you saw in "The Post" today.
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, (R) CONNECTICUT: We had seen a number of the photos last week. And frankly, a lot of the members, including myself, couldn't look at all of them. I mean, we saw enough and then walked out. Every time I see them, even if they're pictures I've seen before, you just become angry and you have this incredible concern about how the rest of the world views us.
Love to just tell you that when the secretary was in Jordan last week, he said watch America, see how we deal with this, because we'll show you what a democracy does when we uncover evil.
KING: Congresswoman Harman, Senator McCain just said release all of them. Do you favor that?
REP. JANE HARMAN, (D) CALIFORNIA: I'd favor releasing all that have to do with the prison abuse. I don't favor releasing the sexual acts between Americans. I think this is all so prurient.
But I want to make another point, Larry. These photos and allegations of abuse were at the Pentagon in early January. Colin Powell and the deputy secretary of defense were briefed in mid- January. The president learned about this in late January. Why are we learning about this, including Congress, in late April, early May? I think this story should have been out a lot earlier. This should have been dealt with faster. Congress has been kept in the dark.
I have been to Baghdad twice, Guantanamo three times. None of this information was communicated to the intelligence committee in February in Baghdad while General Taguba was there, and I just worry that there's a lot more, and I don't know how we're going to find out. Thank you, "Washington Post" and "New Yorker" for keeping us informed. KING: Steve Coll, what do you make of some of the critic who say you're over doing this, putting too much emphasis on a story involving just a few people?
COLL: Well, I think we don't know whether this is a story that just involves a few people and that's part of our interest in it. There are a lot of unanswered questions about how the chain of command figured in this abuse, whether it figured and to what degree and why. And part of our decision-making about what to publish and what to pursue is rooted in those unanswered questions.
You know, the prison abuse on Tier 1-A at Abu Ghraib represents the bottom end of the chain of command, and it may have incurred entirely an isolation from superior orders, instructions, context, people looking to rough up prisoners in order to obtain information in the counter insurgency. It may be it was entirely isolated. But I, certainly, as an editor, as a journalist, don't feel confident about that at this stage, based on the evidence that we possess, that we continue to review and the questions that remain out there really unaddressed.
KING: Is that your hope, Ronald, that this is isolated?
YOUNG: I do hope it's isolated. I actually have been pouring over a lot of the testimony from the prisoners of course, that the "Washington Post" put out, and also from Sivits' testimony. They seemed to correlate one another or go with one another and actually prove that this is pretty much an isolated incident.
I mean, even prisoners are saying that the prison guards in the morning treated them good, but the ones at night treated them bad, and they actually cite Graner and Davis by name.
Also, some of the testimony from the Sivits' testimony says that one of the Sergeant First Class Schneider saw Davis stomp on one of the guy's foot and yelled out and of course, Schneider came back and he reprimanded him and then Davis quit, only to come back later and actually start doing it again.
KING: Congressman Shays, do you expect to get to the bottom of it all?
SHAYS: Well, I think we'll get to the bottom of the it. I think Senate is showing a lot more than the House. And maybe we just need one body and not both to look at it.
I just want to be clear, the Taguba report is basically telling us that the other prisons were run well, that this was isolated, one unit within a group of a lot larger organization.
But I think one of the challenges we have is we have three definitions. We have prisoners of war, enemy combatants, and then we have, are you a criminal. And we quite haven't sorted out, you know, how we deal with terrorists, how we deal with Iraqis, and we don't have the kind of legislative oversight that I think we need to have in Iraq. KING: And Congresswoman Harman, Senator McCain says, just act the way the Geneva Convention says in all cases.
HARMAN: Well, I think that would have been the better rule. President Bush, 41st president, the president's father, had 1,200 tribunals on the military -- tribunals on the battlefield in Iraq when we were there the first time, sorting out the people. And this administration chose to ignore all that and to declare that certain places, Guantanamo and Afghanistan, were not subject to the Geneva Conventions. I think that was the first basic mistake, and I do fault Congress as well for not being all over that bad decision.
That then just transferred into Iraq, and there was mass confusion last fall about which laws apply. And then we have the White House counsel calling the Geneva Convention provisions "quaint," and all of this is a kind of hubris. We've seen it in corporate America as well. This was the wrong way to go. America has to be subject to the rule of law. What else are we fighting for?
KING: Yeah, yeah.
SHAYS: I'd just love to add, if the administration wants more power, they need to have more oversight. The both go kind of hand in hand. And they've wanted more power but they've wanted less oversight.
KING: Thank you all very much. A reminder, Monday night, President Bush speaks about the aftermath of June 30. That speech airs at 8:00 o'clock Eastern. Our special guest is "The Washington Post's" Bob Woodward. He'll be with us at 9:00 Eastern, our regular time, LARRY KING LIVE on Monday night.
We'll be right back with Kathie Lee Gifford. Don't go away.
KING: We now welcome one of my favorite people to this program, Kathie Lee Gifford. She has a new CD just out called "Gentle Grace," plus a devotional book with the same title. She's a TV personality, singer, songwriter, actress, businesswoman. Kathie Lee Gifford. There you see the cover of the book and of the CD, and it's great pleasure to have her back with us, always is.
We can't let the time go by without getting your reaction to what we've just been talking about.
KATHIE LEE GIFFORD, SINGER: Oh, Larry, it's just -- I think it's absolutely sickening to every decent human being, no matter what faith you come from, or if you have no faith at all. Just any decent person is nauseated. I can barely even look at them. I'm just repulsed by them.
And then -- and then we go from the news to watching reality television. I mean, it's just, you know, makes me long for the old "Carol Burnett Show," I got to tell you.
KING: Are you surprised to see, now that women are in war, women are on two different sides in this. Jessica Lynch goes off, becomes a hero; Lynndie England goes off and becomes an American shame. Ironic.
GIFFORD: No, that doesn't surprise me, that doesn't surprise me, because there are -- there are good apples and bad apples in every bunch, and you know, you could debate forever the idea whether women should even be in combat or another, but I mean, I really do believe if you want to be a feminist, it's all about choice, and once you make your choice, you better live with the repercussions of your actions, whatever that choice is. And people are fast to make the choice, but very slow to understand the repercussions of our choices.
KING: This new CD and book, "Gentle Grace," really deals with your faith, right? This is Kathie Lee Gifford, who has always espoused this. You converted to Christianity, is that correct?
GIFFORD: Well, see, because of your Jewish background, you probably think that, Larry, but I've never felt like I converted from Judaism at all, because Jesus was a Jew, and Mary was a Jew, his mother, and all of his first disciples, the first "Christians," in quotes, were Jews.
I just feel like -- I feel like I'm a fulfilled Jew, in the sense that I believe that the messiah has already come. I'm not waiting for him to appear. I believe that the Old Testament scriptures have been fulfilled in his coming, and the rest of the scriptures will someday be fulfilled. I know you've had Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins before, who wrote that whole series about the "Left Behind." I finished the 13th one or something yesterday morning, and it's riveting stuff. It's all based on ancient, ancient scriptures.
KING: It deals with the end times, though, does it not?
GIFFORD: Yes, that whole series does. But Jesus was prophesied in Isaiah, in Ezekiel, in Daniel. And it's fascinating study. I'm not a biblical scholar the way my brother is. But the more you study it, the more fascinating it is.
I just read a book recently, Larry, that you would find fascinating. I know I am supposed to be here to plug my own, but you know, you and I have this kind of relationship.
There is a man named Lee Strobel (ph). Have you ever had him on?
GIFFORD: He was -- is a Jew, and is a very -- is an award- winning investigative journalist from Chicago, one of the major Chicago newspapers. And his wife years ago became a believer in Jesus, and it upset him so much that he set out to disprove the claims of Jesus, and he interviewed all -- everybody, from the worlds of archaeology, the worlds of psychology, the worlds of, well, biblical history, all kinds of things, and ultimately came to the conclusion that the prophecies were true and Jesus is and will continue to be exactly what he says he was. It's brilliantly written, it's called "A Case for Christ" -- "The Case for Christ." And if anybody's really interested in this subject, instead of just taking sides because of tradition or because of what they've heard, if you're really interested, then study. You know, I mean, whatever is true can stand up to any inspection.
KING: Let me get a break, and when we come back we'll talk about "Gentle Grace," both the CD and the book, and why suddenly books dealing with faith are in such popular demand. In fact, the book she mentioned, the latest volume, "Glorious Appearing," is a number one, runaway best-seller, and all of the books by the two gentlemen who have appeared on this show, Tom LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, have been major best-sellers.
We will ask her why she thinks that happens right after this.
KING: We're back with Kathie Lee Gifford. Before we ask her about faith and its popularity in record stores and in book stores, concerning Martha Stewart, a Secret Service ink expert who testified for the prosecution has now been charged with perjury. This could throw this whole thing into upheaval. And Kathie Lee, Martha was asked about attending the Emmy Awards today. Let's watch and I'll get your comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA STEWART: OK, I'm a true believer in the due process of law, and that we have discovered several kind of corrupt problems within the system makes me kind of -- and today it was announced that a Secret Service agent, a government witness, perjured himself on the witness stand. It's very distressing, as well as the juror who had lied on his questionnaire is very distressing.
So we'll see what happens. But I'm a believer in American justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What do you make of this whole story, Kathie Lee?
GIFFORD: I used to be a big believer in American justice. I'm a big believer in the concept, the righteousness of American justice. When you just read about it.
But like anything else, when it's put into practice by human beings, it isn't -- it never is what it should be. And I wish Martha all the best in the world. I think whatever crime we commit in life, the punishment should be commensurate with the crime, and I think -- I think she's been punished enormously, and I see so many other people with far more serious crimes, murder and rape and pillaging, and you know, what does pillaging mean anymore? I mean the major companies that have pillaged -- and it just isn't commensurate. There's no equality.
And where does Martha ever go anyway to find a jury of her peers? There's only one Martha Stewart.
KING: Yeah, who's your peer now?
GIFFORD: You know? I could sit on the jury. I understand some of the things she's going through more than other people, but how are you going to find 12 of us?
KING: Tell me about why you think books about faith, records about faith are suddenly very, very popular?
GIFFORD: I think 9/11, Larry, has a lot to do with it. But see, from the world that I came out of, they've always been. I've never been able to walk and visit my mom while she's having her bath, her nose wasn't in some book about faith.
I think what people are realizing is that so many of the people that make our media judgments in our world live in pretty much ivory towers on two coasts. And there is a huge nation in between Los Angeles and New York of millions of really decent, good and dare I say God-fearing people, who long for, as you -- what you say, not only American justice, they long for godly justice in this world. And every time we turn around, it seems like it's just not attainable.
And I think that's why there's a longing in the human heart for God. If we are created in his image, which I believe we are, then we are creators ourselves.
And I believe that God the Father created us for fellowship with him. He was lonely. You know? He wanted -- he wanted communion with those he had created, and if he wanted communion with us, and it seems to me that those he created would have an innate longing for communion back with him.
And if we are created in his image, I also believe we are a trinity. I believe that we are -- we are physical, and we are mental, and we are spiritual beings. And look at all the trouble we go to to take care of our physical selves. My daughter calls it fluffing, all the stuff I do. And the older I get, the longer it takes.
But we go to -- we work out and, you know, we try to eat right and all of those good things, and then we take care of our minds and we read and we're up to date on current affairs and everything, and we completely ignore one-third of our entire being, which is the spiritual.
And then we run around going to psychiatrists and looking for lovers and drinking and everything, because we wonder what's wrong with us, we wonder what's missing. We wonder why we don't feel fulfilled. We have all this and we have all that, but something's missing. And it would never occur to so many people that that might be a relationship with a living God.
KING: Is "Gentle Grace..." GIFFORD: Pretty simple to me.
KING: ... are these new songs or historically well-known songs?
GIFFORD: No, they're pretty much new songs. I had no intention of entering the -- the Christian music industry again. That was 25 years ago that I did my last spiritual album. Although everything I do has an essence of spirituality to it, because even if it's a cabaret album, it's about who I am, and that's still, you know, one- third of me -- there's always the essence of spirituality in it.
But specifically, for that market, this was the first one in 25 years. And a lovely man from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Music named Randy Alward (ph) called me about a year and a half ago and said, I really believe, Kathie, you're supposed to do a record for our company. And I said, well, Randy, that's so dear of you, I -- but that's not what I do anymore. I'm writing musicals. I'm very excited. He said, well, will you do something for me? Will you at least consider it? Will you at least pray about it?
And he was such a tender-hearted, great guy, he just so understood my spirituality and lack of religiosity. He so got that. He wasn't asking me to -- would you be religious again? That's the last thing he was asking me to be. He was saying, will you share with people on a spiritual level what you've been through and what God has taught you about his faithfulness?
And I remember promising that I would, and then I looked over and there was a stack of lyrics that I had written within the last seven or eight years, about this big, at least 50 songs. And it's as if God was speaking to my heart. And I don't hear voices like some people do. I wish it were that easy. And I've not seen a burning bush lately either. I'm not -- anyway -- and so I looked at this stack of lyrics, and it was almost like he was saying, are you going to let them collect dust or would you like to collect hearts for the kingdom? Are you going to share what you've learned and what I've taught you? Are you willing? And it really always comes down to that. It's not because you're famous or you're attractive, it's all are you willing? It's always about that.
And I said yes, Lord, I'm willing. I don't want to, but I'm willing. So this wonderful, wonderful young composer and producer from California, Phil Sios (ph), came out, spent the weekend at my house, and we wrote seven brand new songs for this record, based on those lyrics. And there was a -- we felt that there was -- it's an old-fashioned word, but when you're experiencing it, you know what it means. There was an anointing, when we were doing it. Yeah, we knew that...
KING: And where is the -- how does the book -- is the book a companion?
GIFFORD: Yeah. We finished the record, and Zandergen (ph) publishes found out about it, and they have a little gift division called Inspirio (ph). And they said, Kathie, we know it's late, we know you're doing these musicals and everything, but do you think you could write 24 devotionals based on these lyrics? And just expand a little more on the subject of God's faithfulness, on the subject of having a peace that passes understanding in these times that we live in that are anything but peaceful.
KING: What do you do in your own life when you have the tragic thing happen with Frank? When you leave shows, when you read about yourself in tabloids, when bad things happen in and around to you. Why doesn't that cause you to doubt your faith?
GIFFORD: Well, it does. I wouldn't be -- I'd lie if I said you don't doubt. You doubt more that you're doing to the right thing or that you got the right messages. And you know what, those are the times, those hard times are often the times when people look for a faith. Hard times send people to their knees but if you're already on your knees, it's just, it has a natural flow to it.
I know that sounds bizarre. But there's never been a day in my life since I was 12 years old that I didn't start my day with prayer. Pray all day long, depending on what my circumstances were, and end my day in prayer. I have a 14-year-old son now. Cody said to me about a month ago, he says, "Mom, I pray all the time. Is that weird?" I said, "Cody, do you realize that you, already at the age of 14, discovered one of the greatest truths of life, that God is your best friend and he's just a conversation away?"
KING: Are you therefore able to easily forgive?
GIFFORD: I tell you why you're able to forgive and I'll never say that it's easy. It's not easy to forgive, because it's not natural. Especially if it's unjust.
KING: You've been hurt.
GIFFORD: Someone's done something to you you don't deserve. It's hard to forgive, but what happens when you are a person of faith and evil is done to you, what flashes before your whole face is almost like a person that's about to die and you always say, my whole life flashed before me, you know that concept. When something like that happens like it did with Frank, immediately, God reminded me of everything I have ever done in my life that he has already forgiven me for. And so how can I not forgive someone else? It negates my faith. If I will receive forgiveness but I will not give it, and if Jesus is your pattern for life, if he's the person that emulates all the qualities you want to have in your life, then you got to call yourself a Christian, and not be a Christian when times get tough.
KING: Let me get a break and come back and include some phone calls for Kathie Lee Gifford. The CD is "Gentle Grace" plus a devotional book accompanying it with the same title. Bob Woodward Monday night following President Bush's speech on LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back with Kathie Lee Gifford, the new CD is "Gentle Grace" as is the devotional book with the same title. Let's go to your calls. Columbus, Ohio, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. This is a question for Kathie. Hi, Kathie.
CALLER: I was wondering, after I saw that picture of your mom and dad and your family, how is your mom, and is she visiting and spending more time with you, and is she still doing some of her lecturing?
GIFFORD: Thank you for asking about her. She's had a very, very rough last seven years. My daddy was terminally ill with an illness called Louie Body Dementia that I've spoken to before on this very program. You don't hear as much about it as you hear about Alzheimer's. But I can't tell you how much mail and e-mails I got after the last appearance with you, Larry because it's just affecting so many people and there's so much we don't know about it.
Since my daddy passed away a year and a half ago, she's -- first of all, she knows where is he and she has great peace she'll be reunited with him one day and she knows he's out of his suffering and she's now out of her suffering as well because any time you love someone, the depth of your pain is equal to the depth of your love. You know how you can hear somebody died last week, had a massive heart attack or something and there's somebody that you sort of know peripherally and you feel a momentary sadness. You go, I'm sorry, how is their family. It's sincere.
You are sincere about your concern but it doesn't eat at the core of you when somebody that you absolutely adore is suffering right before your eyes for years at a time, and that's what we had experienced with my dad. So when -- he actually died in my mother's arms. My mom was reciting the 23rd Psalm to him and she literally had said, "and as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort" and just as she said those words my daddy breathed in so deeply and just let out a sigh and went home to the Lord. And I am so glad that she has that memory. That he went that way.
KING: Tulsa, Oklahoma.
CALLER: Hi. From one owner of a 50-year-old Bichon to another, Kathie Lee, do you have more time with your family than for your fans who would like to see more of you and bless you and yours?
KING: Thank you.
GIFFORD: To go from my daddy's death to my dog. OK, it's live TV. I love my dogs, too. I don't know if you know that Chardonnay was killed a year ago right after my daddy died. It was so cold back east, and we live on a peninsula, but it was frozen all around us and a coyote was able to get on our property. Little Chardonnay, 15 years old, was barking, barking trying to protect her family and the coyote killed her. So Chardonnay was 15 then, and now Chablis, her baby sister, is 15, and she's deaf. You know, and pretty much blind. I have to put a slab of meat right in front of her nose for her to know where it is. And Regis, my other dog. Did you know, Larry, I have a dog named Regis? He's 10 years old.
KING: Was there a Freudian message in that?
GIFFORD: No. Regis -- remember how he used to bug me about naming my kids after him. Regis or Regina or something. I said, no. I mean, how did your parents name you such a name? I'm not going to do that to my kids. He kept after me. Finally I said would it make you happy if I adopted a dog from the pound and named him after you and he goes, would you do that for me? I said, of course. And he is a wonderful dog. He's darling.
KING: By the way do you miss daily television with Regis, honestly?
GIFFORD: No, no, I miss Reg. The irony is I get together with Regis now and Joy pretty much the same amount of time when we used -- when we were working every day together. We just don't work together anymore but we have dinner about five or six times a year, I'd say. Maybe every couple of months.
KING: You don't miss 9:00 a.m.?
GIFFORD: Oh, gosh, no. 15 years of it was enough.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with more with more of Kathie Lee Gifford and more of your phone calls. The book and the CD, "Gentle Grace." Don't go away.
KING: I'm back with Kathie Lee. Calgary, Alberta, Canada, hello.
KING: Hi, go ahead.
CALLER: OK. Larry, I wanted to tell you, you are going to live to be at least 102 years old, not 103.
KING: I'll take it. What's your question.
CALLER: Kathie, I would really like to know if you are going to record something of this day and age-type stuff, maybe country western. You'd be great at it. You've got a great voice.
KING: Ever tried that venue?
GIFFORD: I did a sitcom called "Heehaw Honeys" back in 1977. I sang a lot of country music. I love country music. It's one of the places you can hear great songs anymore. They're actual melodies and great lyrics. KING: And actual stories. Tampa, hello.
GIFFORD: I'd like to do that. Thank you.
CALLER: Yes, Larry. My question for Kathie Lee Gifford is, with the rise in childhood obesity combined with the poorly planned school lunch program, the lack of physical education, what do you feel, Ms. Gifford, needs to be done to actually get parents and school districts to get motivated to actually give a chance for a healthy start in life for our children?
GIFFORD: Everything has to -- everything has to start...
KING: Heavy stuff. It's not a pun. Go ahead.
GIFFORD: I just don't think that we can expect our schools or even our churches or our government to do the job of parenting. I mean, the reason I feel like I can send off my child to the school that the two of them go to is, because I do my job at home, and so does Frank. Then, you have to put your child in the hands of professionals that know how to do their job as well.
And I think these poor teachers in many of the public schools have got to be parents, guidance councelors, psychiatrists, everything for the kids not being parented at home. And that starts with feeding them a healthy breakfast. Don't slap a doughnuts in front of them in the morning. Let that be a treat once in a while. And don't allow nothing but soda and candy in their diet. Teach them how to eat sushi.
KING: Kathie, wasn't that hard raising your kids? Because that's the thing they love.
GIFFORD: You know what, if they get hungry enough, they'll eat it. You've got to insist, and the one thing that's the hardest thing about being a parent, is the hardest thing about being a human being, consistency. And because they're so smart and once they see that you're going to give in on certain things, because they needle you so much or beg and if one or the other parent gives in and the two parents aren't aligned in, you're dead in the water.
KING: We've only got a minute left. Why don't you like reality TV?
GIFFORD: Because it's all based on humiliation. And there's enough in the world to humiliate human beings. I'm all about building up the human spirit, not debasing it and degrading it all the more. We've gone right back to the coliseum and watching people get devoured. Now they don't get devoured by lions, they're devoured by being humiliated and debased and disgraced, and I think it is a disgrace. I can't watch it. It makes me uneasy. It makes me -- I feel terrible for the people that it's happening to and at the same time, I'm angry at those people because they willingly let it happen to them. I don't get it. It's not entertaining. KING: Always great seeing you, Kathie Lee. Well, see you in New York.
GIFFORD: Love you, Larry. Come have dinner with us. Frank will cook for you. Notice not me.
KING: Kathy Lee Gifford, the new CD is "Gentle Grace." A devotional book accompanies it. hwe'll be back in a couple of minutes and tell you about the weekend. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night, Cokie Roberts and Joe Califano. Sunday night we revisit the late Tony Randall. And Monday night, Bob Woodward, that follows President Bush's speech. The speech is at 8:00, we're on at 9:00. And whose on at 10:00? Hey, who loves you? Aaron Brown is on at 10:00, that's who. And he's next. And he's going to host "NEWSNIGHT" will take you right into the weekend.
Mr. Brown, the man of reknown, Aaron Brown.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com