CNN LARRY KING WEEKEND
Encore Presentation: Interview With Diane Sawyer
Aired March 3, 2002 - 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, Diane Sawyer of ABC News. How far will she go to get a story? How about all the way to Afghanistan. She's next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.
Thanks for joining us. We always enjoy having Diane Sawyer on this show. Earlier this week, the co-anchor of ABC's "Good Morning America" came on to talk about a recent project for prime-time Thursday, a special report following up on her 1996 story about the plight of women in Afghanistan.
KING: Give me a little history here, what took you there in the first place?
DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: Well, we went there just months after the Taliban came in. And we simply wanted to get a sense of the place which seemed so anarchic at the time. When we got there, several things happened, we were able to -- I think -- be among the first to go in and chart what was happening to the women; being shut out of the schools, the women doctors being taken out of the hospital. In fact, the finest surgeon in the country would only let us film her hands.
And believe it or not, we found those hands. We went back and found those hands again. But the real, for me, the drama in our story was a group of women who came in and said, we don't care that the Taliban are threatening our lives, we're going to take off our veils for you, because we want everybody in America to hear us say, you've got to help us. You've got to save us. You've got to do something for us. They did it, they put the veils back down. They went back into the darkness and we had no idea what had happened to them.
And every time I saw one of those pictures of a woman being beaten I thought, is that one of our women? Well, we went back and sure enough, we started tracking them down. And we were able to find them, all of them. And tell you what happened in their lives and the price they paid for bravery.
KING: Back to '96. Were you surprised at what you saw?
SAWYER: I was stunned. I was stunned, first of all, to see all these young guys coming in from the countryside in what had once been a very cosmopolitan place, Kabul. And they came in and there they were, uneducated, menacing, threatening every woman they saw. Pulling my scarf down, threatening me, not sure who I was, but sure that something was dangerous here, with their shoulder-carried missiles. And you had a sense of danger around every corner. And of course, they'd just been -- they just carried the dead body of the former president through the streets after hanging him with malicious glee.
So anything could happen around any corner. And I was most of all shocked how quickly they moved to put a cage down around all of these women who had once -- well, they were 40 percent of the workers in the government. And suddenly they were swept aside and put in darkness.
KING: Were you a little amazed that they do this under the guise of religious beliefs?
SAWYER: Well, yes, particularly since as we know, a number of people who do study the Koran say there's no basis in the Koran for what they were doing. But at the time I interviewed one of the Taliban, the spokesman for the Taliban, he was so contemptuous. He was so bored by my little questions about women, and whether women should be educated or not. And you just see this dripping with disregard that he had for women. And there you saw that it was some eerie combination of, I think, an attempt to control, an absolute attempt to control, and something that had little to do with the real Muslim world at all.
KING: Tell me what we'll see Thursday night. First, what was it like to go back?
SAWYER: Well, it was simultaneously worrying, because as we know the warlords are once again rattling their sabers out in the country. And it's going to take a massive amount of wisdom in order to keep this country stable through all of this. But for me, tracing the women, searching for them, looking for them, going back to the places I went to before. I went into the marketplace where suddenly there was laughter again, there was music again. I was able to go to a school where these little girls had come -- school isn't even open and they had walked a mile in the snow in their little thin sweaters, they had no covering at all. In order to take out tattered pages, they didn't even have books, because they wanted to get there early, just in case there was someone there to teach them.
And I think the funniest thing of all, I saw a picture of Kate Winslet up on the wall, a poster of Kate Winslet. I went up to these guys, and I said, you don't know who this is. Who are you kidding here? They all said "Titanic," my heart will go on, my heart will go on. And it turns out they'd been hiding this video, some of them in animal pens and some in food storage areas in order to take it out and sneak it around. So "Titanic" lives over there.
But we found the women and some of our worst fears were confirmed. Some of them were beaten, some of them had to flee the country. And I think the most moving of all, and you'll see him Thursday night, is the driver. This is a man with six children, no money. They pulled him in and for 21 days beat him to try to get the names of the women who had talked to me. And he would not give them up. And that kind of, I guess, honor was amazing. KING: When you saw the documentary "Beneath the Veil," your original was called "Behind the Veil," right?
SAWYER: I think it was, yes. Our first title was "Behind the Veil."
KING: And then they did "Beneath the Veil." And now this is just "Primetime Thursday," right? Doesn't have a name or does it?
SAWYER: This is "Back to the Land Where the Veil Once Ruled," yes.
KING: So nothing I guess in "Beneath the Veil" shocked you?
SAWYER: No. We had seen it. We had known it was coming. The women told us already and this was just months into the Taliban rule that every place they walked, women were being beaten. And the clubs would come out and they'd whack their knees, and that the slightest infraction actually risked death. So we knew it was coming.
KING: In a minute we'll talk to Diane about how she found these people. Lots of other things to talk to. She's with us during the first half of this program. And this is LARRY KING LIVE. And we'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAWYER (voice-over): Five and a half years ago, I saw life from under the burqa, taking my camera to film secretly wherever I went. Certainly, impossible to work here, according to women we've talked to. But this time:
(on camera): So it is really is an amazingly different place. I can't get over just the vitality of this marketplace alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All this airs on ABC's "Primetime Thursday," Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. You found the moral, how did you do that?
SAWYER: Oh, it was a process of asking, asking, asking. One of them had fled to Europe and we had to track her down there. And it was just getting the trust of each person who would give us the next name, and then the next name. You know, I was looking at myself in that clip of the burqa again. And, of course, I thought I was so cool. I thought, you're an investigative reporter, operating in Afghanistan. And in fact I didn't know it was against the law to do what I was doing.
What you don't see is how many times I walked into walls in the burqa. So I think I'm the perfect Afghan woman, nobody can spot me, and meanwhile I'm banging my head on posts and walking into walls and falling off of curbs. Those are really, really dangerous things.
KING: Did Mike Nichols offer any thoughts on your not going?
SAWYER: Mike Nichols was a little anxious. He was a little anxious.
But you know, I -- I don't know -- I'm flattered when he is. I sort of like it when he is.
KING: Is reporting reporting, or is this kind of reporting, as -- the Daniel Pearls are the classic example -- different?
SAWYER: Oh, we know this is different. This is different. Everybody knows when you are talking about life and death matters.
And we looked at the pictures of the women being beaten and we said, well, that's somebody else's mother, that's a foreigner, right? That's somebody else's sister or wife.
But when you know that these are women who actually did something brave for you and you can't find them, you can't go to them because even to attempt might put them in greater danger, everything changes. And you remember that this is what we were born to do. And I think it's what people want from us.
We have all this power in that we're television. We have this immense power, and all of this money in network television. And what is it for, if not to use it for purposes like that?
KING: By the way, Diane, where were you on the morning of the 11th? Were you on the air?
SAWYER: I was on the air, yes. I was on the air. We were getting ready to sign off, Charlie and I. And in our ear, they say those words, "hold on a second." And then the next thing they say, it appears a plane may have crashed into the World Trade Center.
And we did exactly what everybody in the country did, I think, watching it. You entered this state of sort of consecutive denials. And you think, well, it must have been a tragic accident by an amateur pilot. And then you see the next plane coming, and you think, well, that must be a fire retardant plane. No, no, that must be a plane coming to help.
And it takes a long time to compute that this is the thing we have never seen before. And we had a wonderful reporter, Don Dahler on the air from the scene itself. And he said, this is the sound of shrieking like a missile. This is like a plane being used as a missile.
And we knew; we knew.
KING: What was it doing to you, Diane, internally?
SAWYER: I think in that instance, as everybody in the country felt, you reorder everything in the world. You see that you're standing at a place where history was there, and this is who we will be now. And this is the job we now have to do.
And then I went down to Ground Zero, and -- almost immediately in the afternoon and broadcast through the night from down at Ground Zero. And hiking in, making my way in to Ground Zero, where you still had the plumes of fire coming up and people falling down in holes because you couldn't see where you were. It was completely white and dust-covered.
And seeing all these papers -- and I'll never forget it -- all of these papers that had flown out of the building, and picking them up. And I think I even said on the air once, these must have been so important to somebody yesterday.
And that's the consequence that changes everything.
KING: And it changed us forever, didn't it?
SAWYER: I think it did in -- probably not in the ways that we thought initially it would. I think for a while we actually all thought that maybe some laughter had died. I think we thought for a minute, well, this is going to mute this irrepressible American spirit that we all have.
I think we now know that the irrepressible American spirit and the laughter can still thrive, while we all still remember that there are forces in the world that are enormous and dangerous and, because of who we are, they are in large measure ours to deal with.
KING: Do you live with a kind of fear, or has that died down?
SAWYER: You know, I don't. And the people who have a right to that are the people whose lives were directly affected, who lost loved ones.
And I know you interviewed Lisa Beamer, and so did I. And I look at her and I think, just watch her with those children, telling those children that life is still good. That's what she's going to tell them every single day.
KING: She's amazing.
SAWYER: Yes. They're the ones who have a right to that. Ours is simply to make sure that we're doing the most we can.
KING: What's your read on the Daniel Pearl story?
SAWYER: Just like you: absolute horror. Complete horror. And the more we hear...
KING: You've been over there; what are they attempting to prove? I mean, what is -- what do you think their thinking is?
SAWYER: I think one of the most frightening things is we don't know. We don't know. And part of this new world of completely improvisational terrorism is that to the extent that there were codes of war, the Lord Mountbatten kind of codes of war that disintegrated in the face of terrorism.
Even within terrorism we now discover that there are factions who operate at a level of savagery where you can't even begin to understand it. And maybe they don't even care if you understand it, or understand them and their purpose. And it does seem, to that extent, a kind of pure evil.
KING: We'll take another break and come back with more of Diane Sawyer. Here's another scene from what you'll be seeing Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern on "Primetime Thursday."
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAWYER (voice-over): And we wondered about the women who had haunted us so long. For five years hearing nothing. After months of searching for them, trying to find them, and after the fall of the Taliban, once again, our cameras in position, and the door opened.
Five and a half years later, they walked into the room like prisoners seeing light again.
(on camera): We are so glad to find you. We wondered, we worried, we had no idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: This is going to be an extraordinary special on Thursday night. Going back, right Diane -- what a feeling that must be.
SAWYER: It was. It was. Flying in, same mountains, same terrain, same beautiful people, and the completely -- well, hope changes everything, doesn't it?
All right, let's touch some other bases, media and otherwise. A lot of talk last week -- I'm interested to hear from you, you do an interview with Rosie O'Donnell, apparently her first interview about her book. Now I understand it's part of a two-hour special, it's not just an interview with her. And Barbara Walters goes on the view the next day to say that Rosie has -- pretty much saying Rosie is gay, et cetera. Was that an inner fight between -- give me the story, Diane.
SAWYER: Let's see, Larry. You actually waited -- how many minutes did you wait for this?
KING: Well, you're here to talk about the special, but I would be -- you would ask me if I were bopping heads with, you know, whoever.
SAWYER: I know, I'm just laughing at you because the last time I was on, we did this too. And you're not here, I can't throw anything at you.
Would somebody throw something at this man, please?
KING: You did hit me with something. What did you -- you threw something.
SAWYER: I think -- yes, I recall what it was. As I recall, it was toilet tissue because you had given it to me.
KING: Correct. Toilet tissue.
SAWYER: Right, because I asked for a Kleenex and it was the only thing you had in house at this fine establishment, as I recall.
KING: OK, what's the story?
SAWYER: Look, every now and then, as we know, we bump into each other, Barbara and I do, on something just because she's talking on "The View" and I'm doing another interview. And as everybody knows and everybody has read about, she apologized and she said this is not the axis of evil, OK? And we keep saying, we work like 20 feet from each other, 20 feet from each other. We see each other every day, practically all the time. And we laugh and we have a great time and that's all this is, honest to goodness.
KING: Were you ticked that she mentioned it? Did it bother you or nothing?
SAWYER: No. You know, there is a policy at ABC News and we all try to follow the policy and sometimes things happen. And the first thing she did was apologize to me. And God knows I understand. And I think what we're going to be doing with this two hours is so important, so important and I hope it will be provocative and really thoughtful, really thoughtful, because we want to make it as smart as we can possibly make it so that people at home can really consider a lot of issues with us. And that stands on its own. And Barbara is so respectful of it and I am of her.
KING: And that airs on March 14?
SAWYER: March 14, right.
KING: And Rosie is one of the guests. So, it's not just a promotion for her book?
SAWYER: No, no, no. In fact, I'm going to be talking to her later on about the book. This is something else altogether and I want her to be able to talk to you for the first time. I'm not going to tell you what she's going to say. I think she has a right to say this for the first time.
KING: How do you deal with it on those moments when two high profile people are chasing the same person? How does the company deal with it? I guess every major company deals with this. They don't just have one talent. How do you deal with it if you're both going after the same person?
SAWYER: Have you ever seen the World Wrestling Federation?
Does Smackdown mean anything to you? No, really, I can't say this enough and Barbara and I are sort of worn out from saying it because every single time anything comes up, we end up having to chase this, chase this, chase this. We really like each other. We really laugh a lot.
KING: No, I mean, how do you do it, modus -- all right, I'll give you an example out of thin blue air. You call Prince Charles. She calls Prince Charles. And he says I'm going to do one interview in America. No, I'm going to do two. I'm going to do Larry King on cable and I'm going to do a network interview with either Diane or Barbara, right? And you're both pitching him. What's the rule?
SAWYER: The rule is if he says, I'd like to do Diane, I'd like to do Barbara, the other one says, hey, he says he wants to do you or he just said he wants to do me. And then the other one says great, great, more power to you and goes on to something else. That's our rule. And it really works well, no kidding. It really works well. For instance, if you and Connie, let's say, Larry, are going after the same thing.
KING: I assume that will be worked out, yes.
SAWYER: Right, you will have the similar kind of thing.
KING: Did you have it with her, too?
SAWYER: We have this policy at ABC News and it really does work well. It is great because we don't want to be -- we each make calls, but neither of us wants to be up there in some sort of contest with the other one. We're on the same team.
KING: Are you in a -- are we back now into tabloidism again? We left it for a long while after September 11. Is it back? Are we going to have the Ramseys on again?
SAWYER: You know, I feel that it's still a very different world and that the proportions, it seems to me, and we all hope they hold, but that the proportions now are so much more, I guess, just so much more appropriate for the material than they once were. Where you might have something that was just sort of wall-to-wall carpeting on all the cable shows and all of the networks, I don't feel that yet anymore. And I don't know if you do, but I sure don't. I still feel that we're discussing whether on cable shows or on individual shows a lot of issues and far more in proportion to their importance to people than we used to.
KING: Is it harder for you when the story hits home? I know how friendly you were with the JFK group when he died. Was that the toughest kind of thing? SAWYER: Well, yes. It's extremely tough, but again that makes it about me. I think -- I think the toughest kind of thing is when you see somebody in mortal pain and you can't do anything about it. And, yes, I mean, does it mean you have to go on the air? And you know as well as I do that you go on the air and you want your -- you want to say exactly what you want to say in the tone of voice you want to say it, but you're not sure you're in control of your tone of voice sometimes and you're not sure whether you're reaching people at the level at which they're thinking about something or at the level at which your heart is hurting. And...
KING: It ain't easy.
SAWYER: ... you sort of want to make sure you know the difference.
KING: We have one more segment left with Diane Sawyer. As we go to break, here is a scene from, and then we'll ask her why this show is doing so much better. Here is a clip from "Good Morning America." Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what? I feel very romantic right now...
CHARLES GIBSON, CO-HOST: I do too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... in my shirt.
GIBSON: I sort of feel it come over me. There is something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if it's the fabric.
GIBSON: Of course, Mike's shirts are a little gamy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he was directing in this one, I think.
SAWYER: I don't know. I feel different about the two of you. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I just want to say even while I was tracking that piece that's recording, that piece this morning, Tony Perkins is standing where I could see him going...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: As we return with Diane Sawyer, we see her carrying the Olympic torch in her home state of Kentucky. I had the honor of doing the same in my adopted state of California. Isn't that one of the big thrills?
SAWYER: It is. It is. You try not to look so goofy and giddy because you are so thrilled to be there.
KING: Did you save your torch? Did you buy your torch? SAWYER: Yes, I sure did. But we all have a similar expression, right, sophisticates that we are. And we all look like, I can't believe I'm doing this.
KING: It's a great moment.
Why is "Good Morning America" -- well, we could say -- can you take a step back. Why are you doing so much better?
SAWYER: Well, we're having a great time. Who knows how to read the great mind of America, but we hope that people are tuning in because they think we're thoughtful and we're fun. And we really are having a great time morning after morning. You know, the team -- it does sometimes take a little while for a team simply to know everything everybody else on the team is thinking. And we've been there for a long time. And I think it's showing, hope so.
KING: I remember when you came back, you were on this program and the guess was max a year. Max? You were stepping in to help out the network.
KING: Max, the maximum amount of time...
SAWYER: Oh, maximum.
KING: Like not you and Max. We never broke that story.
(UNINTELLIGIBLE). How long has it been now? How long have you been back?
SAWYER: It's been three years. It's been three years. Yes, don't invite us over to spend the night ever, because we may never leave.
KING: Are you staying?
SAWYER: Yes. We're staying, we're having a great time. We don't even talk about it anymore. We really don't. We have so many exciting stories to do.
We just got back from England, where we did the queen's jubilee. We got to launch the queen's jubilee ourselves. We've got the Oscars coming up. We're going to be going out and doing that. And in the meantime we also have some great reporting going on. You know, we have this truly muscular team of reporters on "GMA."
So no, we love it. We're having an awfully good time. And we don't sit around every -- believe it or not -- every afternoon and say, OK, tomorrow are we still here? We just don't. We're here.
KING: What about the early hour of getting up? That doesn't get to you at all? SAWYER: It doesn't get to me. I'm not tired. I don't know what it is. I suppose I'm going to have to submit myself to the Smithsonian for experiments or something.
I'm not tired. And every day, on the days you come in and you feel -- you know, you feel like you need about six jolts of caffeine to get going, you open that folder and here's a hilarious story -- we had it on the other day -- of the 9-year-old kid who delivers his mother's baby with the 911 call on the other end of the phone.
And the 911 operator says to him, now clean out the stuff in the baby's mouth. And he says, "Will she bite?" And all you need are one or two of those. This hilarious, sweet kid; and you're just so glad you got up in the morning.
KING: All right. Thursday night at 10:00 when we see "Primetime Thursday," we should come away feeling what?
SAWYER: I hope you'll come away thinking, my goodness, these people who stand nothing to gain from it put their whole lives at risk to try to plead for help. And what they went through and what they suffered kind of ennobles us all. I hope you'll think that.
KING: Was it emotionally uplifting for you?
SAWYER: It really was. And you know, I left six years ago, as I say, with them in their burqas receding into the darkness. This time I left and one of them said to me, do you have an e-mail address? Let me give you mine. And then she said, we've been waiting for you. Come back.
Hey, love my job.
KING: How the world has changed.
Couple of other things: What's your husband's next film or project?
SAWYER: He's doing "Angels in America" for HBO. Six parts for HBO.
KING: The play?
SAWYER: Yes, he is. So that's foreseeable future here.
KING: Now, there's a strong play about gay Americans.
SAWYER: It is. It is. It's a great play. And as we know, it really -- it rocked Broadway. It really brought people into the theater who had never come before. It's such a strong and important play.
KING: Has our whole attitude, do you think -- is it changing toward gays?
SAWYER: You know, I think it certainly does. I don't know how much is trackable by polls exactly, because I'm not sure people are ever completely comfortable sometimes telling pollsters what they do and don't think. And I think it's in some measure generational, as we see it.
But I think it is. And I think you certainly see it sometimes when you talk to young people about some of these issues and they look at you and go, huh? That's an issue?
So you realize there have been some shifts in this country. And one of the things we're going to be talking about in the two hours, the laws in this country about adoption and foster care are so various and state-to-state-to-state-to-state. And as we know, there are more than 100,000 kids who are eligible for adoption in the foster care system.
And the question is, who is a parent? Who is a fit parent? Who is a right parent? Who would the kids say is a parent they would like to have? And we hope to be very provocative.
KING: A couple of other quick things. Will that show take a stand?
SAWYER: No. I'm not in that business. I'm in the business of asking the toughest questions I can possibly ask, and of all sides, of both sides, and letting the people listening make up their minds we hope, based on fact, based on weight of argument. And also, I think, just based not on prejudice or not in any direction, but simply on standing back and taking a look at this and saying, well, if I were that child, if I were that parent, if I were that person, what would I do and what would I want done?
I think those are always the best broadcasts.
KING: And finally: Do you treat the Academy Awards as fun or reportage?
SAWYER: I treat them as sheer fun in all possible directions. I am your dishiest Academy Awards reporter. Don't come to me if you want lofty thoughts, OK. I'm going for the clothes, I'm going for how Russell Crowe looked at me.
KING: Stop that.
SAWYER: Yes, behave. I'll behave.
KING: Diane, Diane, Diane. Well, you got nothing to throw at me. Thanks very much.
KING: Always good seeing you, dear.
SAWYER: Yes, hope to see you in the person.
KING: Yes, next time in the person.
KING: When we come back, Diane and I will be together, and we'll talk about her incredible career, from Nixon to "60 Minutes," to the little Gonzalez boy.
Plus, find out what all that Kleenex business was about. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAWYER (voice-over): As we begin the search for our women from long ago, we drop in on another woman you saw back in Washington, seated in a place of honor near First Lady Laura Bush during the president's State of the Union address.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sima Samar.
SAWYER: A proud symbol at the Capitol. But there's a reality back home. Six weeks into the new regime, Sima Samar, the high-level government minister for women, still has no office and no staff. And a towering task: giving women back hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back. We weren't able to spend enough time with Diane Sawyer when we talked earlier this week, so we thought we'd give you a little extra treat tonight. Here's some highlights from last year's interview with Diane.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE, JAN. 24, 2001)
KING: A lot of people may have forgotten. Or maybe they have not -- maybe they were too young, don't think of it. You worked for Richard Nixon. In fact, that is where we got to know you.
SAWYER: Are you going to keep talking about age with me?
KING: Because you look...
SAWYER: Everybody has forgotten it. But...
KING: You've come from -- you came from Richard Nixon to media, right?
SAWYER: I came from Richard Nixon directly to media. And it was considered -- isn't this funny? It seems quaint now. It was a scandal. It was a scandal.
KING: Because? SAWYER: Because, at that time you didn't make the transfer between the two. It was considered -- you know, there was a wall, a Plexiglass wall between the two.
KING: And now Chris Matthews, Tim Russert are...
SAWYER: That's right. It happens a lot.
KING: What did you do for the late president?
SAWYER: I worked in the press office. And I...
KING: Post-presidency, right?
SAWYER: Well, during the presidency I worked in the press office. And then I left with him on the plane resignation day.
KING: You were on that plane when he went goodbye?
SAWYER: I was on that plane. That is right. When you see that plane taking off...
KING: What, were you already sitting on it?
SAWYER: I was waiting for him, yes. When he was in the East Room making the speech, I was on the plane. And we were all watching on a tiny screen inside the plane.
KING: You went to San Clemente.
SAWYER: And I went to San Clemente for four years.
KING: And worked there how long?
SAWYER: Four years.
SAWYER: Working on his memoirs. And, again, this seems to be my pattern, doesn't it? I thought I was going to stay a month or two, maybe four. And I stayed four years.
KING: And went from there to a local station in New York, right?
SAWYER: Local station in -- no, not in New York.
SAWYER: I went right to CBS.
KING: Right to -- you never worked local.
SAWYER: I did, but before Richard Nixon. I worked local, decided I didn't like the crabby attitude we all had in the media and that I wanted to be on the other side and try to do something.
KING: Now, I interviewed him many times, knew him in his Florida days.
SAWYER: I know you did. He really liked so you much.
KING: I liked him. Well, he was a great guest.
SAWYER: Yes. That brain, that complicated...
KING: It was that complicated, neurotic, paranoiac, brilliant.
KING: What was he like to work for?
SAWYER: There, you have described him, you know. He was simultaneously -- well, he was always riveting, first of all. And I think I still have the world record for sitting with him six straight hours -- six hours. He got up and left for occasional reasons. I didn't -- just listening to him go country by country around the world, leader by leader, then talk about American politics.
And for me, you know, I am sort of: do-de-do-de-do. I come in: the best of all possible worlds, the perfectibility of mankind. And he really gave me such a tough-minded view of the world.
KING: Did you like him?
SAWYER: Yes, I did. He was -- you know, he was not an extrovert. He was not jolly. He was...
KING: He wasn't Clinton.
SAWYER: He was not Clinton. He was not George W. Bush.
SAWYER: He was something far more interior and dense. And you had to -- you really had to work sometimes to maneuver your way through it. And at the center of it, I still think was a man who was something of a romantic and extremely vulnerable. And, in a lot of ways, it was a kind of shyness that maybe led him to armor himself with so many people and get in so much trouble.
KING: Do you ever miss "60 Minutes"?
SAWYER: I love "60 Minutes" still. I watch it a lot. And I love the fact that, on Sunday night -- which I really do think is a unique evening for all of us. I think we come to Sunday night and we're relaxed. And we sit and watch with a different quality of attention sometimes than we can muster during the week.
KING: Now, they threw off old yoke about old anchors, old hosts. God, they're octogenarians, they go on forever. So what's the difference?
SAWYER: And what deal have they made and with whom that they get to look and act like that at those ages? But...
KING: Mike Wallace has the Dick Clark pill.
KING: What is the difference there. What do they do?
SAWYER: Well, you know, they do something that is now I think an emblem for them. It is sort of time-honored for them. And Don Hewitt, who is reigning genius at "60 Minutes," always did say that there is something about Sunday night. And until they moved to Sunday night, when people were ready to pay attention that way, they couldn't do those kind of stories. They couldn't do some of these intricate stories in foreign countries about politics.
KING: That won't go Tuesday night.
SAWYER: It's very hard on a Tuesday night, I think, because people are busy. They are in the middle of their week. And somehow to stop and listen to a story about Sri Lankan politics is just harder than it is on a Sunday night. He always said that he thought Sunday night was about paying penance for whatever it was you have done. So, OK, I'll sit and watch.
KING: It's "The New York Times" magazine, right?
KING: That wouldn't work on Thursday in the paper.
SAWYER: I don't think some of their stories -- obviously, the middle range of stories we would all do. But some of their stories, and some of these that require that different level of relaxation probably wouldn't work. But I don't -- here is what I love. I get to do a kind of investigative story that I was never -- I was never able to do there. And it wasn't their fault. It was really about my growing into what I wanted to do.
And I can do two to three parts. I can do an hour. I can wake up in the morning and say: Wait a minute. Nobody has looked at what it means to a child to be in a day care center where there are too few adults. We are going go in and find out. And I can take as long as I want to do that. And I...
KING: And you like it even though there is the lack of a immediacy and the working it?
SAWYER: I love it. I love it, because, you know, at some level, didn't we all get into this because we want to nudge the world a little? We want to -- we just want to say: Hey, this could be better. Let's make this better.
And so you get a chance to do that. And you get a chance to do it over and over and over again.
KING: So that is why you enjoy both the morning and the Thursday night?
SAWYER: Yes, the morning is the short, fun -- we can -- you know, animals can dance on my head, as they do periodically. And then in the evening I can really take six months, a year.
KING: Directors, you're married to a famous director.
SAWYER: I'm married to a director.
KING: Who is also a great performer and a great actor, underrated actor. What is that like at home with two people who are control freaks? And I'm going to say you're one, too.
It's been proven here tonight.
SAWYER: Fortunately, it sort of exhibits itself at home in different things. You know, very early on you divide up the territory. And I'm the one who alphabetizes the spices.
KING: Oh, you are?
SAWYER: I am. I'm one of those. And he's the one who doesn't throw his clothes on the floor. And I've said this before -- and it's not original to me at all -- but somebody said once, in every marriage, you have to have a gardener and a flower. And I think the great ones you switch back and forth, and sometimes you garden and sometimes you get to be the flower.
KING: Is it a great marriage?
SAWYER: It's a great marriage.
KING: Everything you thought it would be?
SAWYER: More. Oh, you know, I wish somebody had told me earlier how interesting it would be every single day to be with somebody who...
KING: Who's bright and funny?
SAWYER: ... who's so funny and so bright and so -- who makes you love the truth, when you know you can say anything because he redeems everything.
KING: Back with more of Diane Sawyer right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAWYER: What do you like the best about Cuba?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
SAWYER: "Nothing," he answers.
Nothing? There must be something.
And later, we ask, Elian, what do you like about Miami? His answer, "nothing."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Diane Sawyer -- no stranger to controversy -- how did you respond, because we didn't talk during that period, to the criticism over talking to the little Gonzales lad?
SAWYER: You know, I feel so strongly that we did the right thing. And here is what happened inside the network you should know; we didn't make a single move, as you can imagine, without stopping, thinking, talking about all of this.
KING: It wasn't a whim?-
SAWYER: Not at all. Paul Friedman was really instrumental in making the decision, and Paul Friedman being the senior -- a senior news executive there -- making the decision to go ahead and do it, and here is why.
At the time, people forget this a little bit, at the time the Justice Department and other agencies were talking about moving in, sort of, in the way they finally did, and for all those months we had cameras trained on this child, every move he made outside was photographed, I don't know where we all were to say, what are we doing here? Every time he goes outside we have 40 cameras trained on him. And yet no one had said, this is a real little boy, and before all of you in the courts, and all of you trading charges, and all of you making decisions in Washington about going in with guns and machine guns, we -- remember, this is a little boy. A real little boy. And I never understood the criticism that said it was more -- what, invasive.
KING: Using him.
SAWYER: To sit and talk to him, than it was to photograph him every day, and no one said a word.
KING: I think that the criticism brought out the most -- press -- the print critics were, what can you learn from a 6-year old?
SAWYER: Ah, you know, we knew that of course, and we brought in child psychologists, and I took a child psychologist with me -- a therapist who treats children very much like him, to say to us here is what you can learn, here is what you can't learn -- we are never going to make it -- fail to make a distinction between the two.
And then in the end when we talked about issue of going back to Cuba, I thought it was so important that we keep that separate -- that we not lob it like a grenade into the hands of the politics on either side, that we waited an extra day, and we had a round table of juvenile judges, and psychologists, to sit and say to us: OK, now let's talk about what he says about going back to Cuba. Does this mean anything at all? In the courts, does it mean anything at all?
It turns out sometimes it -- even with a 6-year-old it can mean more than we all intuitively think it should mean, I think. But we tried to handle it with the utmost care, but with one objective, which is: Let us remember this is not an abstraction we are debating. And we all love to come on and argue these issues. This is a real little boy.
KING: Did you like him? Well, how could you not like him? He was adorable.
SAWYER: And so smart. And the other thing was, we were not making a case at all that he should stay here. If we were going to do that, there was a very different way to go about it. We were simply saying: Before you come in with guns blazing -- with guns -- remember the fragility of this child.
KING: Do you think the reaction was jealousy?
SAWYER: No, I don't think so.
KING: You don't?
SAWYER: No, I think -- and I really -- I'm pleased that we all -- even as a journalistic community, that we all say: Hey, hey. We stand sentry over kids.
I think kids and moms, personally, we should. But...
KING: Are human interest your favorite kind of stories, as opposed to a straight hard-on political story?
SAWYER: My favorite -- I like them all -- my favorite thing is that -- and one of the reasons that I am doing this demented thing in getting up at 4:00 in the morning and then doing a Thursday night show as well...
KING: I want to ask you about that.
SAWYER: .. is that I get to do it all.
KING: A slice of life.
SAWYER: I love to do it all. I like the quick hit. I love the long piece. I love the interviews.
KING: She worked for Richard Nixon, interviewed and covered Bill Clinton. What -- what do we say about him? We haven't finished saying everything about Nixon, but what do we say about Bill?
SAWYER: I think everybody said it all last week and on into the weekend. I think it's so much about the dualities, isn't it? I mean, that's -- that's true of all of us.
Somebody said to me once that "All" -- "All interesting things happen in the contradiction." And you wonder if that isn't what's going on in our fascination with him, that we always saw both things at once and you never knew. You never knew where you were going to be day in and day out.
And also, I think his titanic energy. And energy is so underestimated as a...
KING: It's very -- it's an aphrodisiac, too, isn't it?
SAWYER: You're asking me?
KING: You're the woman. Isn't it? Isn't it appealing?
SAWYER: I think it is for men and for women, don't you? Vital energy. Really vital energy, not frenetic energy.
KING: He changed the room.
SAWYER: He changed the room when he walked in. I remember when I interviewed Ken Starr, Ken Starr telling me about being on an elevator when they wouldn't -- he was governor, when Bill Clinton was governor. And nobody knew who Ken Starr was, and he was on an elevator with him, and watched him change the elevator. In the matter of three floors, he owned the elevator, including, you got the sense, Ken Starr in a way. And that's why when he said that he didn't come to it with personal animus, you sort of had to believe him.
KING: Do you think this came to him naturally or do you think he knew it? He knew he could change the elevator?
SAWYER: I think he knew it. I think he probably subconsciously also needed to do it, which was not -- not a conscious act, because he got energy from it. He got stimulation from it, and he wanted the stimulation. I think by large he knew it.
Can I say one thing? You know, I just want to tell everybody what it's like to come to the LARRY KING SHOW, which is this extremely prestigious show, and needless to say does very well for the network, makes a lot of money. And when you ask for a Kleenex, I just want to tell you...
KING: Is that what we gave you?
SAWYER: I asked for a Kleenex, and this is what they give you on the LARRY KING SHOW. So if any of you out there want to, you know, have a little charity in your heart, would you send Larry some Kleenex so that his guests will not have to...
KING: Please do. You know, before AOL we didn't have Kleenex.
That is funny. Now -- oh, they're scrambling in the control room. They're getting nervous. Don't take it so seriously?
SAWYER: Take it out of his salary. Buy some Kleenex, for heaven's sakes. KING: I didn't know where you were going there. You know, I had no idea...
SAWYER: I could tell.
KING: You really had me going.
SAWYER: You don't like to be out of control of your show, do you?
KING: Of course not.
SAWYER: I watch you. You really...
KING: Don't you think "control" is what this is?
KING: Don't you know you have a control job? Of course, you do.
SAWYER: Yes, sure, sure. Sure, I do.
KING: What is that like then at home?
SAWYER: The expression of yours I like the most is when you're deciding whether you're going to let me do it or not...
... because you could stop me in a moment.
KING: Happy to say, we have solved the Kleenex problem, and we look forward to talking with Diane Sawyer again real soon.
We'll be back live tomorrow night. Until then, good night.
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