CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Larry King Interviews Barbara Walters
Aired November 14, 2001 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, from New York, a rare interview with my gal, ABC's Barbara Walters, on the day that changed America forever. Plus, an up close look at her latest star-packed special and what she did to help New York. And then he'll put us in a New York state of mind, the legendary singer Tony Bennet will close it out. All next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. Always a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE one of my favorite people, Barbara Walters. This Friday night, at 10:00 Eastern, another Barbara Walters interview special will air, this one featuring the entire cast of a long-awaited film, "Ocean's Eleven."
That cast includes, by the way, George Clooney and Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, Andy Garcia. They're all with her on Friday night, we'll talk about that later. It's a remake of the old Sinatra movie, and Barbara naturally nabbed them all.
But let's discuss other things first, if that's OK. Where were you on that morning, that terrible morning?
WALTERS: I was in my office. I did not have my television set on, and I saw the second crash, as so many people did. And of course, by then, you knew that something hideous had happened. And that was sort of it.
I mean, for the rest -- I can't even remember the rest of the week, we just worked and worked and worked. And I went down, I guess, on the third day and talked to some of the people from Windows on the World, the chef and the man who had -- David O'Neill, who headed Windows on the World. And everybody did those stories that were just so -- need I tell you -- so heartbreaking. And to see these people and to be involved with them, none of us will ever forget that week.
And as journalists, it was very strange. At one point, I wrote a note to Charlie Gibson, he had done something, and I wrote a note commending him, and he said, "Isn't it great to be back in the news business again? Isn't it terrible the reason we are?"
KING: Do you remember your first thoughts?
WALTERS: Well, you just knew that something horrible had happened.
KING: And you go numb, right?
WALTERS: Yes. You know, you're just, "This is not possible." And then, of course, it's bad enough to see it, but then to see that building coming down and not even being able to imagine how are they getting out, what are they doing, what is happening and to have to report it. I thought the anchors of all of the networks -- CNN, everybody -- they just did a fantastic job keeping everybody as much abreast as we could.
KING: You are so much -- even though you spent a lot of your earlier years in Miami Beach, Florida -- you are so much a New Yorker. What did that part of this story do to you? It was different than if it had been somewhere else, right, for you?
WALTERS: Well, because, you know, New York -- when Mayor Giuliani says New York is the capital of the world, I must say, those of us who live in New York, you know, we do feel this is the only city.
Can you imagine living anywhere else? Yes, there are other wonderful cities, but only in New York. And New York is invulnerable, New York is the biggest, New York is the tallest, New York is the greatest. And you realize from this, you know, we are all vulnerable. And it's changed -- I mean -- a lot of people have said this, I think it has changed everyone's life.
For those of us who are older -- interestingly enough, it's the younger people who are really more interested in the story day by day. Some of the older people have said, "Let's get on with other things." But for me, being one of the younger people, I really do feel differently about my life...
WALTERS: First of all, I eat more. I do. I eat the cookie. I have the mashed potatoes.
KING: Figuring, "What the hell?"
WALTERS: Oh, please, at this point, am I'm going to worry about it you know? And I just cherish every day and everyone. I mean, I look at you and I think of how many programs we've done and how we've known each other, and I feel much more sentimental about everybody.
KING: Yes. And you realize that you've witnessed the most cataclysmic event in the history of this country.
WALTERS: I think, not only that, but a little part of me says, "Maybe I've seen the best." The future is so...
KING: How so?
WALTERS: Well, because, yes, I mean, I did live through World War II. I wasn't...
KING: I was a kid. We were both kids. WALTERS: Yes, we were kids...
KING: But we were there. I remember it.
WALTERS: ... but I remember it, you know. And I remember, at that time, living in Miami Beach, because my father had the Latin Quarter down there. And I remember that the Army and the Navy were...
KING: Took over the city.
WALTERS: Took over the city. I mean, it was a big deal for me to see an ensign. I was like 13 or 14, and if there was a 19-year-old ensign, hey, you know, maybe he would wink at me or something.
But we never felt that our own country was going to be attacked, and we never had an enemy that seemed to be really worldwide. And so perhaps, if not our innocence, certainly, that part of our life has changed.
KING: Did your daughter call you right away?
WALTERS: Yes, but my daughter...
KING: She doesn't live here.
WALTERS: My daughter does not live here. My daughter lives in Maine, and she runs a wilderness program for adolescent girls in trouble. She called me then.
She was very concerned when I went to Russia, last week.
KING: To do Putin?
WALTERS: To do President Putin. Was I going to be all right?
And it's a new awareness for her, because when she was a little girl I went to Iraq to interview Saddam Hussein. I went to Iran just before the Shah was exiled. She was a kid. She didn't care. You know, I used to say, "Mommy's leaving," or "So long." It's a different meaning now.
KING: And do you feel differently toward her in that, is there more worry about her future?
WALTERS: I worry about the future for all young people. I want her to have, as I do for most young people -- their lives are now different. They will have a different kind of threat over their lives. Their children will. I think more and more now of young people and what their, you know, from your baby's age, on up, it's going to be a different world.
KING: What about as a story to cover? I mean, there's no precedent of this, so what did, journalistically, this bring to you?
WALTERS: Well, the week before, which was our first week that 20/20 was on on a Wednesday night, I did this hour interview with Ann Heche.
KING: We had her on the next night.
WALTERS: I know you did. And for both of us it was mind- blowing.
KING: Nothing to compare to that.
WALTERS: Nothing -- I mean, I have never had an interview quite like that, nor have you, I'm sure.
But I thought I was going to spend the rest of the year, you know, all worried about regular news, doing movie stars in trouble. The next week I was supposed to have done Mariah Carey, who had an emotional breakdown, and she canceled. And I understood that.
And I thought, this is what it's going to be. I'm going to be doing movie stars in trouble for the next year because this is where the ratings are. And we did very little news.
I mean, we were going to do President Putin last spring. There wasn't that much interest.
KING: We had him on when he was here.
WALTERS: I read your interview. That was a superb interview you did.
But, I mean, you know, you're on five nights a week. And, Larry, you've got an audience if you run test patterns, I think, but you know, when you're on one night a week doing a magazine show...
KING: That would be good.
WALTERS: And there was very little interest in any foreign leaders. I mean, who knew who the president of Pakistan was? You remember, that was the trick question that George Bush wouldn't answer. And now there is a voracious appetite. And as I said, more so, I think even among younger people.
KING: Were we, Barbara, frankly, to blame and interested so much in ratings there are many of the print media now, who are writing, "You were so interested in ratings, that you were more interested in Gary Condit, than in Mr. Putin, more interested in the Ramseys than in terrorism."
WALTERS: Look, that's not our fault. I mean, you can't blame the media for everything, such as you might try.
President Putin said to me, when I asked how he felt -- he had seen the plane, the second plane crash into the World Trade Center. And he said that what he felt was anger and guilt. And he felt guilt because he knew that there were going to be terrorist attacks, he didn't know when, he didn't know how. But he knew, and he had warned the previous administration about it. And what he felt was that his intelligence, maybe, should have been stronger, firmer about telling the United States.
Well, it wasn't that you and I were just trying to get ratings, the country -- we didn't care that much. We were invulnerable. Yes, there are terrorist attacks, but they were over there somewhere. Yes, there were fundamentalists, but I mean, you know, we could handle that. And what were we interested in at that point? We were interested in gossip, personalities. We complained that there wasn't enough news.
The news programs at night were doing 10 minutes of news and 20 minutes of kind of news magazine pieces. You know, you and your money, and me and my health. There was a difference in the country.
KING: News you could use.
WALTERS: News you could use.
KING: Has that now changed forever?
WALTERS: I don't know if it's changed forever. And I think we are back again to being interested in other things. That's why I can do a special on Friday -- and I'm not saying this to plug it. We'll have enough time to talk later. But because people do want to laugh. I could not have run this special a month ago.
KING: But you couldn't do this special every week.
KING: Well, be right back with Barbara Walters on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Tony Bennett closes it out musically later. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTERS: It was a busy morning. Breakfast meetings were in full swing. But after the plane ripped into the North Tower, everyone in the restaurant would be fighting for their lives.
Mr. Neal (ph) , how many people do you think you have lost?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think we lost 50 people. We're not exactly sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'd like it if the employees who are safe to get in touch with us. And if any employees, even if they weren't there, to please get in touch with us to let us know that they're safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTERS: You go down to that site again and again and at every daily press conference you have to give the statistics about the numbers missing and dead.
RUDOLPH GIULIANI, MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: We have recovered bodies and we have recovered parts of bodies.
WALTERS: How tough is it to be the messenger?
GIULIANI: It's impossible. You just do it. It is impossible. I knew that the numbers would be staggering -- beyond belief.
WALTERS: Mr. Mayor, have you had time to grieve?
GIULIANI: Here and there. Sure. A little bit. You feel terrible. You cry or you want to cry. And you say to yourself, "I can't. I've got to figure out how we encourage people to figure out some way to get beyond this."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You've been doing this for a while, but everyone has different thoughts. What is it like for you to interview people in severe emotional distress?
WALTERS: I don't say, "How do you feel?" I don't put a microphone. I try to listen to them, because just to let them talk and not to deliberately try to make them cry. You know, what could be easier than asking that kind of a question? And to really have the kind of compassion, the sensitivity that you would have if you were talking to a relative. I think of it that way, if this were my sister, this were my child, how would I want to be treated. And I hug them.
When we went to Windows on the World and we talked to many of the employees, some of them who were immigrants, you know, who were custodians in the building or busboys and so forth, and I think of what their lives -- these are people who don't have money, who lots of times don't have insurance, although Windows on the World has been, I think, very good to them and tried very hard.
I hugged them. I mean, yes, I'm a journalist, but I have feelings and a heart. And some of them just wanted to be hugged and just cry.
KING: What about those who might say, should the journalist hug someone? Should a journalist...
WALTERS: I don't care.
KING: ... take sides? WALTERS: We're not talking -- this is not a question of...
KING: That's a two-part question.
WALTERS: Well, do I hug them on the air? No. Do I hug them when I see them? I'm a person, and when someone is in pain and crying, sure I do. That doesn't mean that I can't also do my job.
Just did an interview with a young -- well, he's not young, he's 43 or 44 -- the son of the shah of Iran, who hopes that he can go back to Iran. And I had to say to him, your father was called a bloodsucker. Your father was despised. Well, yes, you have to ask the tough question, but that doesn't mean that when there is somebody else in pain that you can't reach out.
KING: And how if the situation, the argument goes on in journalism schools and I guess when news people gather, is it "we" or is it "here's the story"?
WALTERS: It's "here's the story." It really is. I mean, we are the conduit and we can ask the questions. Maybe with some experience we can do it a little better than someone else. Maybe we have less shyness about walking into the situation.
When you walk into a room in which there are 50 people grieving and you've got to, yourself, be able to talk with not having the tears coming down -- I mean, you know, we just looked at a clip of Windows on the World, I looked you, you had tears in your eyes. You know, how do you not?
But, no, the story is them. Are we well known? Yes. Maybe it's one of the reasons that now we are in a particular kind of position because in a way we find that we represent a certain security, people are used to us. They're the faces that they've been seeing for years and it brings comfort the way meat loaf and mashed potatoes do.
You be the meat loaf, I'll be the mashed potatoes.
KING: How about those who are saying, don't give bin Laden a voice, if he does a tape with someone or presents a tape, don't air it.
WALTERS: Well, that's a very hard question. You remember the big signs that I can sort of vaguely remember from World War II, "Loose lips sink ships"?
KING: Remember it well.
WALTERS: OK. Well, you have to have some discernment. Indeed, if you're going to play something of Osama bin Laden, and maybe we should know what the enemy is all about, then I think...
KING: That's the other argument.
WALTERS: Well, then I think you have to have somebody wise enough to say, let me tell you what he's trying to say here. This is hogwash and this isn't true, this is -- I don't want to keep going back to President Putin, but I will -- but one of the things that he said was that we are winning the war, but we are losing the war of information. We are losing the public relations war. That's awfully hard to do.
How do you take minds that have been inculcated for years and years and years and years with hatred, and do a recording or do a thing or drop a pamphlet that says, "We're really very good people"?
So I think you have to be a judge. I don't think you let Osama bin Laden go on and on and on and on. I think if he has something new to say or something that we really want to hear or something that we want to know, what a virulent enemy he is, yes, we should run it.
KING: Back to the scene. When you went down to ground zero, as we had to do, what was that like for you?
WALTERS: I think everyone has said it's beyond anything you can imagine. We have not lived through a bombing...
KING: Like nothing television shows you.
WALTERS: Well, because, first of all, you don't realize how big it is. It's a vast amount of space. And it wasn't just the World Trade Center, it's everything that's around it. It's the buildings with the windows that are all broken.
Did you see the cross that was there?
WALTERS: That was amazing. One of the fireman took me. People have talked about, and said, "We call this God's house." And it had been a customs' house between, I guess, right near next to the Towers. And the way the metal -- the iron dropped -- fell was this cross.
WALTERS: And I said, you know, "Look at this." In effect, I said, "How can you call this God's house when you look around?" And he said, "The Devil did this, because he saw God's presence is here."
Well, I don't care how you feel about religion or what religion you are -- I mean, you look at that, and you look at these men and women who are there, it is the best of us -- best of us.
I don't think that everybody should go crowding down to ground zero or that it should become a celebrity focal point. But it is a special holy place. That's why there's so much trouble trying to decide what do you build instead.
KING: Were you in that building a lot, Barbara? Do you go to Windows on the World much?
WALTERS: No. I was very rarely there. So I don't have that same... KING: Reaction.
WALTERS: If you live in New York, boy, you see it.
KING: You know that building.
WALTERS: You know that building.
KING: Well, be right back with more Barbara Walters.
Don't forget, Friday night at 10:00, Barbara Walters, another special. The entire cast of the long awaited, "OCEANS ELEVEN." We'll be talking about that later.
In the next set we're going to ask Barbara about hoofing and singing for a Broadway show. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTERS: Mr. Levin was on the 106th floor of the North Tower when the hijacked plane hit. Neal's wife, Christy Ferar (ph), works in television as a fashion and style commentator.
Christy, you and I have known each other for a long time. And when you and Neal first got together, we thought you were the most mismatched couple. He was very reserved, yes.
CHRISTY FERAR: But you're using "was," OK. I'm just -- I'm sorry to correct you. We...
WALTERS: Forgive me.
FERAR: I'm not calling it "was." Right now to me he's still missing and will be until...
WALTERS: You're right. Please forgive me.
So he is very reserved.
FERAR: He's all those things. He is prim and proper and deep and substantive.
WALTERS: And you, Christy?
FERAR: Well, I love hooting it up and having a good time.
WALTERS: So you two are very different.
FERAR: Well, yeah. I mean, it was always just fire and ice. We had a great time together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Barbara Walters on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
New York City has put together a promotion tape. They're not buying time on television stations around the country. They're asking the stations to run them, and they are. Here's an example.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Next.
WALTERS: Barbara Walters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next.
WALTERS: I could do something from "Cats."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's nice.
RUDOLPH GIULIANI, MAYOR, NEW YORK: The New York miracle. Be a part of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How were you listed in this extraordinary campaign?
WALTERS: I got a call from Mayor Giuliani's wonderful press secretary, Sonya Mandell (ph). And she said, we're doing public service, and so we'd like people who we feel are, you know, kind of lived in New York and represent New York.
And even though I didn't move here until I was 15, 16, I consider myself as such a New Yorker. And she said, "Would you do it?" I said, "Yes." And then she said, "Would you try out for a show, would you pretend to sing?" And I said, "Pretend to sing? I do sing." I thought. I thought, Larry, I could sing until I did this. And they're very funny.
And Henry Kissinger does one and Woody Allen does one, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and Robert Di Nero. Mine was one of the few that I did myself. It wasn't done with any special effects. And then I was so worried and I was afraid that ABC News would be worried that, you know, that this was -- that I might have looked awfully silly. And how do I then go on that night and do something very serious.
What has happened is that this darn thing has been playing all over the world and it's run on CNN. And people who have never seen me, now think this is what I am, this goofy lady singing "Come and do...
KING: It was great the way they did Woody Allen using computers and Kissinger running the bases. Do you think it works?
WALTERS: Look is going to bring people into New York? I don't know. I hope so. But what it says is, we have spirit, we have humor, we have a feeling about this city. This city is still a miracle. Come. If it makes people talk about it, if it makes someone feel that it still is a city as it is, you know, on "The View," the daytime show, three quarters of our audience is from out of town. I'm thrilled. I want to thank everyone of them personally.
KING: Speaking of that, what are your thoughts about flying?
WALTERS: Well, look, I just flew back and forth to Russia last week. Just a short time ago I flew to Los Angeles.
WALTERS: Commercial. They do not give us planes at ABC.
KING: Any trepidation, any -- did you look around, did you profile?
WALTERS: No. I have never been a frightened flyer. Twice I've been hit by the computer, in that they go through every single piece of my luggage. And I want to say, "It's me, for heaven sakes." But I don't mind, you know. I think, "OK."
Am I more wary? Probably, but it hasn't stopped me from flying.
My daughters, my son-in-law, flying for Thanksgiving to come and join me. You know, I...
KING: No trepidation.
How about the accident of the other morning, Monday morning?
WALTERS: Well, it does look as if it is an accident. And whenever there is a plane crash it couldn't be more hideous and you realize that, you know, that everybody -- almost everybody goes. It's not like a car accident.
But, you know, we don't have too many, and we have had them over the years. And as other people have said, you know, you almost say to yourself, "Thank goodness it was an accident." To be grateful that it was an accident, but you know, it means they didn't get another one, they didn't get it.
KING: Like we hope that anthrax is some crazy person some where and not the Al Qaeda.
WALTERS: Look, I worry about it in different ways. I had to go Washington on Monday. And the planes were grounded, because of the accident, so I took a train. Now, nobody checks your luggage on the train.
Then you start to think, could they do something on a train? Well, could they do something as we sit here?
(CROSSTALK) KING: We don't know what it is, and we have no...
WALTERS: So, as best you can, you be as generous as you can with your time and your money, if you have it. You be as compassionate as you can, and you try to live your life maybe in a little better way than you did yesterday.
KING: The media got a lot of credit. The first week everyone was praising -- how well are the generic "we" doing?
WALTERS: We, the media? Well, we the media is huge, as you know.
KING: Yes, I know. What is the media?
WALTERS: And we, the media, now have programs that are talk, both radio and television, 24 hours a day. So we, the media, have to keep filling it up the stuff.
KING: Where the bad and the good...
WALTERS: Yes, but you know, we, the media, do try to tell the truth. We try to present both sides. I mean, I certainly have heard you doing that with all the different experts and people you have on. We, the media, are trying to educate, and we, the media, sometimes are trying to give solace.
Again, it's very easy to blame the messenger, and there are some of us in the media who should be blamed. But, it's a tough call.
KING: Are you concerned about stories like, how the funds being distributed?
WALTERS: Well, you know, there are so many things that have changed since September 11, and to blame the people who have tried to do it, to blame the actors who have raised money because they don't exactly know where the money goes -- Larry, I don't know anybody who does more benefits than you. And I'm sure that -- you know, you MC things, you are the most generous about your time.
And you don't call every time, nor do I, and say, "I'm doing something today for muscular dystrophy. Will you please tell me are you using all the money?" "Oh, Yes -- 90 percent of our monies." "Would you mind before I MC tomorrow's benefit, would you tell me exactly what's going, and how much your office expenses are," we just don't do that.
And so to blame the people who are trying to do these things, I think, is just awful.
I also think the Red Cross which has been criticized, which maybe should of thought about whether they give their money here or whether they do it. You go down to where the Red Cross is everyday, and most of those people are volunteers. Some of them have come from all over the country. They are still dealing with people's problems.
A very good friend of mine goes down two or three times a week; she's a psychologist. And I just would like to just -- anybody who has tried to raise money, who has given their time, who have opened their heart, maybe some of the money has not been done the best way it should have -- this is all new. There are lots of things that haven't been done the best way.
KING: How do you regard the anthrax, and are you fearful?
WALTERS: We do not get the mail in our office. I do wear plastic gloves at home.
KING: You do?
WALTERS: Yes, I do.
KING: You open your mail with plastic gloves?
WALTERS: Well, I don't do it everyday. Sometimes I forget. Most of the mail, I mean, it's at my house. But, yes, because I sort of feel that maybe news people might be a somewhat bigger target, and I have other people in my house that -- so, yes, I do.
You know it took us 17 years to find the Unabomber, and only then because the brother recognized something about a letter. And that's why you hear the government saying, you know, "Do you know of anybody who has witnessed something suspicious? Have you seen a letter like this?" It is very hard to fathom. And you can't -- if it is a terrorist, why didn't they do it on a larger scale? Why didn't they do it, perhaps, you know, even more effectively?
Putin has said that he will give us the vaccine for anthrax if we need it. I think that what is more shocking -- and I did an interview with the man who owns -- heads -- a laboratory called BioCore from Lansing, Michigan...
WALTERS: And here is the FDA that still has not approved of his plant. For heaven's sake, you know, we have no vaccines for the military, much less for the public, and the FDA still is going to take three months or six months or whatever it is to find out if that plant is safe to keep manufacturing? I mean, we're talking about, where does the money go for charities. Why can't we get this done? There are too many now, "Why can't we, why can't we, why can't we?"
KING: When we come back, we'll talk to Barbara about how well she thinks the government is doing and the president. And later, we'll talk about her special Friday night and whether it's difficult to talk about things not near as important as other things.
We'll be right back with Barbara Walters on the way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTERS: Pete, tell me what your usual morning routine is like.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Usually I take a train and I am in from Hoboken into the World Trade Center and I am at my desk at between 8 and 8:30.
WALTERS: You were late on Tuesday. Why were you late?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I missed the train because I was helping Gene (ph) , I was feeding Jack.
WALTERS: So ordinarily you can get in quicker, but Jack was having a problem that day, Gene?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They got up a little later than they normally do. And I can't do it myself so I asked Pete if he would stay and help me get Jack fed and he missed his train.
WALTERS: These babies saved your life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTERS: This is how they put the -- they pour the plaster in to make my face. That's not exactly my face. I mean, they were so meticulous. I even, when I was in London, I went to see them.
WALTERS: The mask. And then they put each individual hair in -- not my real hair. And then the eyes...
WALTERS: Everything. And then they do the hands. Even the hands are like your hands. And this will be finished -- you'll see the finished statue next week, on Friday, on November 16.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it going to be here?
WALTERS: Yes, we're going to bring it in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was that strange to see yourself like that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's Barbara Walters talking on "The View" about the wax museum. They're going to unveil her cast.
WALTERS: You're already there. KING: I've been there. And I've been in Vegas. And I've been everywhere they have. But they did me, they didn't do plaster. I stood up and they put a thing on my head and they measure you.
WALTERS: They did all the measurements.
KING: It took three hours.
WALTERS: Well, mine they did all the measurements, and I happened to be in London doing a story, and I went to their place there. I mean, mine looks so much like me, my shoes are the same.
KING: It's scary.
WALTERS: Yours looks so much like...
KING: I'm a double.
WALTERS: They're trying to decide where to put me. Maybe they could put me next to you.
KING: Next to you.
WALTERS: Yes, we could wink and carry on.
KING: When I took the kids there they couldn't believe it.
KING: Daddy, Daddy.
WALTERS: It's really amazing. It's kind of an honor, isn't it?
KING: It is.
How well is the government doing, do you think?
WALTERS: You know, we'd been talking about this earlier, all the things that they're not doing right. I mean, we were totally unprepared. We were unprepared emotionally. We have been unprepared in so many of the things, whether it's anthrax, whether it's the airlines. I mean, I don't want to "yada, yada, yada" what everyone has said.
On the other hand, I think there's a feeling of security about George Bush. You know, we don't know if he's going to be a great president, we don't know if it's one of these terrible times that produce great men. But there is something about his personality, the very things that many people criticized are the things that they're praising now, a kind of honesty, a sort of awkwardness that rings true.
Donald Rumsfeld, a lot of people thought he was, "Donald Rumsfeld, you know, he's going to drop bombs; you know, he's this old- time tiger." And yet he has been someone who's been very reassuring to Americans, he seems to be trying to tell the truth. KING: How about on the domestic front?
WALTERS: Well, I'm talking about the...
KING: How about the postal workers...
WALTERS: Why didn't they know? Why has our CIA been totally demolished? Again a kind of arrogance -- thought we didn't need them. Now suddenly everybody wants to sign up for the CIA.
So many things. We are still struggling. And could they be doing a better job? You know, I don't know. I'm not there. I would have hoped that there were things that were done sooner, I would have hoped that there were things that were done better. Bureaucracy does get in the way. We still have a great many worries.
Anthrax is much too big a mystery. Why don't they get all of the experts that they can, you know, 30 people who know everything about that and another 30 people who know everything that you can possibly know not just about the scientific, but about what you really do to protect people in airlines? I don't think that everything has to have a committee, but we've had no committees.
KING: Do you want to, kind of, cover the war?
WALTERS: You know, I would have, and probably -- you know, I was thinking that Geraldo was going, and I think, "Good for Geraldo." You know, OK, gung ho.
KING: He likes that.
WALTERS: He likes that and he'll be good at it.
I think that there are more things -- this is the coward's way -- do I want to go and be in the middle of Afghanistan? Not because I'm afraid of dying, not because of that, but because I really don't want that kind of life now. And I'm a little older. I mean, I'll leave that to Christianne, and she's simply wonderful. And there are things that I can do here.
KING: They're a special breed, though, aren't they, the Christiannes? They're like the firemen who run into the fire. They like the sound of...
WALTERS: Well, I mean, I can remember when I used to do more stories like this. I mean, I remember going to Iraq when the Iran- Iraq War was on. I mean, that's when we did Saddam Hussein, and I remember everything was blacked out as our plane landed. And I had absolutely no fear.
It was a different time. You know, your blood rushes in a different way when you're doing a story that's -- when you're on the edge. Yes, it's different than sitting behind a desk here. And if you have a journalistic sense, it's something that you want very much to do.
Look, if Osama bin Laden called up or sent a note and said, "I want to talk to Barbara Walters," I mean, like that, I would be there.
KING: Me, too. But...
KING: All right, what would you do, if that's happening and someone calls you, Condoleezza Rice, "Don't do it, and we'll tell you why not to do it: He may send signals to people"?
WALTERS: Well, no, I've got to be smart enough to say, "I think he's sending signals to people here." And I think you have to say...
KING: You would decline, if they requested you not to...
WALTERS: Not if they requested me for that reason -- "Gee, he may send signals here."
KING: What would be a reason?
WALTERS: Well, they might say, "Why should we give him" -- I'm trying to think of -- let's say they ask you, "Why should we give him that big a profile, Larry, by being interviewed by Larry King? Aren't you then giving tremendous weight to his personality?" We have gone through this...
KING: Isn't it better to know more...
WALTERS: We have gone through this -- listen, I remember doing an interview with Louis Farrakhan, you've done interviews too, and friends saying -- not even friends saying, "Why should you give him this forum to air his views?" Well, you have to hope that you're experienced enough to counteract those views.
KING: Would you have interviewed Hitler in 1939?
WALTERS: I would have shot him.
KING: But you might have interviewed him? Better we know than we don't know or we draw a line?
WALTERS: See, I don't want to read in tomorrow's paper, "Barbara Walters said, 'Yes, I would interview Hitler.'" So I think I will abstain, but you know what I would have said, you know.
KING: These are tough times.
WALTERS: These are tough questions. You know, we always hear this thing about, "Are they using you or are you using us?" It doesn't have to be Osama bin Laden or Adolf Hitler, which are pretty hideous and you have to make decisions as to whether I'm going to give these people air time.
KING: Every day things. WALTERS: But there are other people, "Why are you giving a murdered air time?" You know, I can barely count the number of murderers I've done -- John Lennon's murderer, and so forth. "Why are you giving them air?" And that's a question, why are we? I mean, that's sensational. "Why are you interviewing the Menendez brothers?"
But if you're just going to say that you're only going to interview people who are nice and sweet and give off good will, you're very limited and you're not really doing justice to your profession.
KING: Do you ever think of not doing this anymore?
WALTERS: I have.
KING: There were stories you had a while ago on the contract, you might...
KING: Was there a chance of your leaving ABC?
WALTERS: I certainly was very angry with ABC...
KING: When they moved the show.
WALTERS: ... when they moved the show to Wednesday. Amazingly enough, we're doing very, very well on Wednesdays. Now they're talking about moving us back to Friday, our home. I'm not sure I want to go back to Friday.
But I thought that the news department was not getting the kind of respect, perhaps, that it deserved. And David Westin, the head of ABC News, I just think is terrific. And they were doing it because the programming department...
KING: It wasn't his decision?
WALTERS: No. The programming department and the news department...
KING: The suits.
WALTERS: ... sometimes clash with each other. OK, we're all right.
I had thought, you know, I'd like to have more time, I'd like to have more time, more time to do anything, more time to have lunch with friends, more time to see a movie. But now -- I mean we talk about the blood rushing, I never think about it now. I mean, I go to work now with a sense of excitement...
KING: Would you want to be on nightly?
WALTERS: The way you are?
KING: Yes. WALTERS: No. Don't think so.
WALTERS: You know, you're asking me questions and I have to think, Would I do a nightly program? I mean, I find it difficult to do "The View" every day, because I have to do "20/20." I like doing "20/20." I like doing a news magazine program.
KING: You have time to develop something.
WALTERS: Well, we have less and less time now because we're crashing (ph) so many things. Would I do it nightly? Are you thinking of retiring?
KING: No, I'm thinking of, what if, you know, a network, CNN, someone came and said, "Do an hour every night."
WALTERS: I would never do CNN, because there's only one Larry King and he's the best.
KING: Oh, stop. No, but I mean, would you...
WALTERS: I don't know. I never thought that at this point I'd be doing this.
KING: You did the "Today Show" every morning, my gosh.
WALTERS: Oh, yes, I did. I don't know how I did that. I did the "Today Show" and I did a five-day-a-week show called "Not For Women Only." I must have been out of my mind. How Diane Sawyer does it every day, my hat is off to that glorious girl.
KING: When you watch her and Katie and Paula Zahn...
WALTERS: I am so glad it's not me.
KING: 3:30 she gets up.
WALTERS: I did it for 13 years. You know, was there another life? I didn't know. Thirteen years.
KING: How long, Barbara, do we stay on this story? When will it not lead the news?
WALTERS: You know what? I would love not to stay on this story. I would love things to be so peaceful and to feel that we had made some impact with the terrorists and that we had got enough on the bin Laden and his lieutenants that we could go back to what I call, you know, the movie stars with problems. That would be my greatest happiness, if we were not covering this kind of story.
But in the meantime, it's a story that we must cover and we'll continue to cover. KING: Barbara Walters: Tomorrow she may be placed next to me in the famed...
WALTERS: In the wax museum.
KING: ... in the famed Madam Tousseau's Museum here in New York. There's also one in Vegas and in London. It's weird to see yourself that way, by the way.
When we come back, we'll talk with Barbara about "Ocean's Eleven" and doing, if not fluff, funny, kind of, lighter stuff in horrendous times. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTERS: If you had to come up with one word to describe what it was like to make this movie together, what would it be? Describe it.
BRAD PITT, ACTOR: Heaven.
PITT: Yes. I'm sticking with heaven.
WALTERS: You're sticking with heaven?
JULIA ROBERTS, ACTRESS: Double down on heaven.
(CROSSTALK) .. stand on heaven.
ROBERTS: I had time.
WALTERS: OK. The writer, Matt?
MATT DAMON, ACTOR: Perfect.
WALTERS: Perfect -- George?
GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: Just a blast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's two words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Frank Sinatra made a movie years ago called "Oceans Eleven" with the Rat Pack. It's been remade. Big December opening. Did you have trepidation? Does this fit in this time?
WALTERS: Well, we had decided to do this last year as a special. And it's on, as you said, Friday, this Friday night on ABC at 10. Fine. And we did it in October.
And they are very funny with each other, because they really like each other.
WALTERS: Which is why they decided to do this, and they're kind of, you know, doing funny things. And Julia's one of the guys and so on.
And all I kept thinking -- I said to them when we were doing it, by the way, promise me that none of you are going to get married or nobody is going to get pregnant before this, you know, runs. And Julia said, "When this is running."
But there was -- I kept thinking -- if something terrible happens, you know, how can we run this? But we are at a point where we are able to laugh and it is important to laugh and have fun. And these are six of the biggest stars.
My trepidation was to sit down with all six of them. What if one is moody? What if they don't really feel like doing this? You know, do I have to? When did you get all six to have the same schedule and to be willing to sit down together?
KING: They all worked it out for you, Barbara, because they love you.
WALTERS: Well, whatever. But then, I did ask some of the kinds of questions that you've asked me. And the last part of the interview -- of the program is about that, especially with Julia Roberts, very emotional. Remember how she was the night of the fund-raiser?
And Brad Pitt, talking about how he sees the World Trade Center area being rebuilt. He's a kind of amateur architect, and their own experiences and you realize, you know, yes, they're like huge stars, but they are also young people with fears, with some pain. But mostly it was just fun and smart -- you know, that is what made them -- that is what made the...
KING: And George Clooney is one of the great people.
WALTERS: He is one of the nicest men. I did ask him, you know, because he always says he's never going to get married. And I said, George, you are really going to say again, you are never going to get married? And so for the first time he kind of backed off -- "Well, you know." Maybe this has effected him in that area.
KING: Did you see the movie?
WALTERS: Yes, I did. KING: Like it.
WALTERS: I did. The movie is fun. It's different...
KING: Different ending...
WALTERS: And a different ending, which I won't tell people. And much more high-tech. But we also went to Las Vegas. You know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) now it is the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) then it was the Flamingo.
KING: Barbara, what an honor knowing you.
WALTERS: Oh, Larry, I should...
KING: Really. Your the best.
Barbara Walters of "The View," of ABC's "20/20", the interview special with most of the cast of "Oceans Eleven" will air Friday night on ABC at 10 p.m.
We close out every program since September 11 with a musical note. Tonight a really special close. My man Tony Bennett will be with us right after these words.
KING: We close every night with a musical piece. And there's no bigger thrill for me to present one of my favorite people for years and years and years, the great Tony Bennett. He's got a new CD out called "Playing With My Friends: Tony Bennett Sings The Blues." By the way, it may be the most successful album you've ever done.
BENNETT: It looks that way. The sales are unbelievable on it.
KING: You sing with other people on that, right?
BENNETT: Yes, great ones like Ray Charles and Bonnie Raitt and B.B. King and Billy Joel and Natalie Cole. We had a great restaurant in this album.
KING: And you brought the group here for us, Tony.
KING: Tony, we're privileged that you would come and do this on our show.
BENNETT: Well, thank you. I'm privileged to be on the show, the show that's all over the world. Come on.
KING: And what an appropriate song we have for you. Tony's going to sing -- what a perfect song for this time of year and for this -- and he's going to be in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, too. Here's Tony Bennett to close it tonight with "New York State of Mind." Anthony?
BENNETT: Thank you.
(TONY BENNETT SINGS "NEW YORK STATE OF MIND")
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