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Interviews With Saira Shah, Sari Horwitz, Michael Ruane, Michael Starr, Herb Cohen

Aired October 4, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, award-winning reporter Saira Shah on a mission to get to the bottom of the shocking death of her colleague.
And then, an explosive new look into the hunt for the D.C. area sniper with Pulitzer Prize winner Sari Horwitz and Michael Ruane.

Plus the untold story of the mouse in the Rat Pack, Joey Bishop with his biographer Michael Starr.

And, winning the game of life the man who's advised Presidents Reagan, Clinton and Carter, expert negotiator Herb Cohen, they're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

A great pleasure to welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE, Saira Shah, the famed journalist/reporter for the award-winning documentary "BENEATH THE VEIL" which was shown on CNN and the author of the new memoir "The Storyteller's Daughter." You're a visual person. You're a camera person. What led you to writing this book Saira?

SAIRA SHAH, HER DIRECTOR KILLED IN GAZA STRIP: Well, I don't know whether I am a visual person actually because when I started writing this book it felt as though I'd come home as though writing was what I really ought to be doing.

I really wanted to take, carry on where "BENEATH THE VEIL" left off and the book is very much a personal memoir and I think there has been so much reporting about how difficult Afghanistan was and the Taliban and people killing each other and so on.

But I actually grew up with a very different version of the country, which I had from my father who used to tell me fairy stories and bits of history and legends about Afghanistan and I grew up really believing that this was the most wonderful place in the world just through his stories so I wanted to convey some of that.

KING: Where did you grow up?

SHAH: I grew up in Britain, so a long way from Afghanistan.

KING: When you got back to Afghanistan how old were you the first time?

SHAH: The first time I went to Afghanistan I was 21 years old and I turned around and said to my father you've told me all these stories about this fantastic place so I'm going there and I remember he kind of - his face went gray. He was completely petrified because, of course, Afghanistan was in the middle of war at that point. The Soviet Union was occupying the country and I had to travel with the Afghan Mujahadeen resistance to the front line to a war zone.

KING: As a storyteller was that what he - what did he do for a living?

SHAH: He was a writer.


SHAH: So, in a way he was a storyteller but the stories that he told me and my brother and sister I think was to try to give us a sense of our homeland. I don't think he ever thought that, you know, certainly since Afghanistan was at war he didn't think that we would go back there but he wanted us to be able to have access to that heritage.

KING: What, Saira, is the most misunderstood thing about his country?

SHAH: Oh, I think there are very many things. The thing that worries me with everything that's been going on recently is that people get a view of Afghanistan as this sort of basket state, you know that nothing's working very well and, you know, it's very violent and people are fighting each other and so on.

And, of course, all of that is true to an extent but it's also the most amazing country. I mean it's a country that I went on to really fall in love with because I just found among people the most marvelous generosity, dignity. You know, for every person who was sort of a warlord or a fighter there were ten people who would help you and, you know, were just trying, struggling to survive and, you know, were incredibly generous.

KING: The concept of "BENEATH THE VEIL" and you're dedicating it to James Miller who appeared with you on this program, who I shared breakfast with. How was James killed?

SHAH: James Miller, as you say, was my colleague and my really dear friend who filmed "Beneath the Veil," risked, you know, a tremendous amount to film "Beneath the Veil" and went on to direct, became a very well-known director in his own right, won an Emmy for "Unholy War" which he and I did together, which was also shown on CNN.

He was really tragically killed earlier this year. He and I were making a documentary for Home Box Office in the Gaza Strip about children, about the impact on children's lives, Palestinian children, on violence on both sides.

These kids growing up in an area where, you know, on one side there's Israeli violence. On the other side there's Palestinian paramilitary violence and we were filming at the home of one of our characters, a 16-year-old girl and there were Israeli - two Israeli bulldozers a couple of hundred meters away bulldozing a house and two Israeli armored personnel carriers guarding the bulldozers. We filmed during the evening and we - remaining at the family's house and we knew that the Israeli soldiers had seen us because they were calling out to us, shouting out to us from the APC, you know, just mucking about saying hi, how are you and stuff like that.

We were wearing body armor with TV written on it, helmets with TV on it. Our strategy was always to stay very visible. We always believed that as long as everybody could see us we were non- combatants. We were, you know, we were not a threat, so our aim was always to be very visible.

When it came time to leave we had a discussion about how best to leave and we thought that the safest way was to attract the attention of the Israeli APC, armored personnel carrier so there will be absolutely no doubt.

So, James and I and our translator moved towards the APC carrying a white flag with, you know, TV, as I say and our body armor and our helmets, moved forward a few paces, shouted we were British journalists. I had my hands up. Moved forward again a few paces. Stopped, shouted we were British journalists. It happened a couple of times and then there was one single shot and this is on video by the way so this is, you know, it's not just my memory. It's actually recorded.

And, when we heard that one single shot we all froze because we assumed it was a warning shot and we wanted the soldiers in the APC to be able to have a really good clear look at us so that they could, you know, be absolutely sure we were not a threat. So, none of us moved a muscle at that point. We just weren't a threat.


SHAH: We are British journalists. We are British Journalists.


SHAH: And 13 seconds later there was a second shot and James was hit in the throat because he was wearing body armor and a helmet the throat was perhaps the only area apart from his head that would have actually killed him.

KING: So...

SHAH: So, his family, you know, and I too, I go to sleep every night or go to bed every night at the moment lying awake wondering what was going through the mind of the soldier who shot James.

KING: Why would an Israeli shoot a British journalist?

SHAH: That's what I want to know. I don't believe there's a conspiracy. I don't, you know, I just don't believe in any of that.

KING: Is the Israeli government investigating this?

SHAH: Well, this is the thing. James' family is pushing for a transparent investigation that, you know, will be published so that it will just be open. And, I have to say, you know, we've had incidents in the British army. You know, I know you've had incidents in the American army that, you know...

KING: Friendly fire.

SHAH: All sorts of things but we just need to know what the guy was thinking, what, you know, was he a bad guy, was he, you know, a scared guy.

KING: When James fell did they come to assist you?

SHAH: Eventually they did. It took some time. Eventually they did come. James was already dead by then.

KING: He died right there on the ground?

SHAH: He died there on the ground. I was with him when he died.

KING: Do you write of this in the book?

SHAH: No. The book was written before this. I've dedicated the book to James but the book was finished by that time.

KING: And I remember him so well. What a great guy he was.

SHAH: He was an amazing guy. I mean, Larry, I know you know. He loved kids. He has - he leaves a baby. He leaves a three-year-old kid and...

KING: Tragic.

SHAH: ...he absolutely loved kids. I should say that his family has a Web site if anyone is interested.

KING: Oh, yes, what is it?

SHAH: And they post these hells of trying to get investigations and so on. It's called and the four is the number four. That's At the moment there is an Israeli military police investigation and that's a branch of the army investigating the other branch of the army, so we're waiting to see, you know, whether that will be - that will be open and whether it will be published.

KING: Back with some more moments with Saira Shah, the author of the new memoir "The Storyteller's daughter." Don't go away.



KING: We're back with Saira Shah reporter for the award-winning documentary "Beneath the Veil," seen on CNN, author of the new memoir "The Storyteller's daughter."

You said you were filming for HBO and that's going to - what's the name of that documentary by the way?

SHAH: It doesn't have a title at the moment. We're playing with different titles. We will finish it. I'm editing at the moment and we're going to - it's not the story of James but we're going to weave a little bit of James into it because we'd like people to know, you know, what kind of a guy he was.

KING: Will we show the shooting?

SHAH: We'll show - again, we're still in the middle of editing it but we certainly will deal with what happened to James and explain what happened to James because, apart from anything else, we hadn't finished filming and so, you know, we really have to explain to the viewers...

KING: Sure.

SHAH: ...that this is, you know, as far as he got. It's his last film.

KING: What's the current state of women in Afghanistan?

SHAH: Things are still very difficult for women in Afghanistan?

KING: Really?

SHAH: Yes, they are. The Taliban were different in that they had social policies. It was actually law to have policies that, you know, discriminated against women. But with the Taliban gone, it's still hard. Afghanistan is a very traditional society and there are still many problems, you know, that have always been for women.

Most of the country is rural and in rural areas there is very little access to healthcare and education for women and even in the towns a lot of women feel very insecure and quite often I've heard of cases where women have actually still been pressurized informally to carry on wearing the burka, carry on wearing the veil.

I have to say personally I think that, you know, it's fine as long as women have the choice. If women wish to wear the veil that's absolutely fine as long as they have the choice.

KING: In a recent "Washington Post" op-ed piece, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said: "Afghanistan is on the path to stability and self government transformed from a safe haven for terrorism to an important U.S. ally, not just in the war against terror but in the larger struggle for freedom and moderation in a Muslim world." Do you agree?

SHAH: Well, I would love to see that Afghanistan. I don't think we're there yet. For instance, opium production in Afghanistan is higher now than it's been probably ever but I was reading the other day that something like 40 to 50 percent of the Afghan economy is now opium production. That's come back in a massive way.

There is still a huge culture of warlords in many different areas of Afghanistan. There are little fiefdoms of warlords that are still armed to the teeth. There are still no-go areas where Hamid Karzai's government officials cannot operate, his police cannot operate.

This is a really dangerous situation. The Taliban, you know, people say that the Taliban are still there in the mountains. I would say that you have to be very careful because the people who were the Taliban are still there. You know the people who made up the Taliban are still around.

KING: Did Iraq knock it off the front page?

SHAH: Iraq did knock Afghanistan off the front page and I think that that was very regrettable. I think that what Afghanistan needs so desperately and has needed for so long is sustained attention. What happened was that the west after the Mujahadeen took power forgot Afghanistan and didn't pay attention to Afghanistan.

And then there was a period after 9/11 when there was very intense attention to Afghanistan, almost too intense, and what Afghanistan needs really is a long period of gentle, sustained attention and investment and care.

I believe it's going to take a generation to rebuild Afghanistan to get to the point which Mr. Rumsfeld talks about where Afghanistan is stable and, you know, a reliable ally. I think that will take, that will take a generation.

This is a country that it's taken a generation to destroy. You know kids haven't been educated for a generation. The agriculture has been destroyed. Of course it's going to take a long time to be rebuilt.

KING: It's been almost two years since you were there. Are you going back?

SHAH: I'd like to go back. I was supposed to go back this spring and I couldn't because of what happened to James but I would like to go back as soon as I finish making this film that I spoke about.

Because there seems to me to be a window where I could go and, you know, maybe live in Afghanistan for a bit and because I am quite pessimistic that stability will continue and I would like to do anything that I could to help.

KING: Has his death caused you to be more careful?

SHAH: Well, I suppose so. You know it's hard to say that really. I mean it wouldn't stop me going somewhere like Afghanistan, which feels very much a part of me. I think it might stop me doing television again but for a different reason just because television is teamwork as you know and we were a great team.

KING: Yes, you were.

SHAH: And I think it will be very painful to work, you know, without him.

KING: Who would have bet that he'd be gunned down an Israeli soldier?

SHAH: Well, I would never have bet that. I would never have thought that. We never - we never thought that that would happen. You know, Israeli like, you know, the states and like Britain has a national, you know, a national army that is accountable or should be accountable and so I suppose if we made a mistake it was considering that, you know, that army would be disciplined the way that it should be.

KING: When do you think we'll see the HBO special?

SHAH: I think it will come out sometime next year hopefully. It's not scheduled yet. We're trying to cut the film at the moment and I think we will, you know, take our time and do that and then it will be scheduled after that, probably around fall next year I should think.

KING: Did you enjoy writing the book?

SHAH: I loved writing the book. I really did. I loved retelling some of the stories that my father told me. It's something very special to me, those stories, and they are part of me and I wanted to share them with other people.

I also put in, you know, some of my - a lot of my experiences in the '80s traveling with the Mujahadeen, later on traveling with James, making "Beneath the Veil," making "Unholy War" with James and all sorts of things are in there.

KING: You're a terrific lady, a great journalist and I thank you for sharing these moments with us.

SHAH: Thank you so much, Larry.

KING: Saira Shah, the book is "The Storyteller's Daughter," the publisher is (unintelligible).

Back with more of LARRY KING LIVE right after this.


SHAH (voice-over): I've learned this is no place for quick fixes. Six months ago the world didn't care about Afghanistan. Today a new war has just begun. As it seeks to wipe out terrorists, I wonder if the west has also got the patience, the stamina to help rebuild lives.




KING: Steve Croft (ph), journalistically, why has this story pushed elections, Iraq, everything to page two?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's never been anything like it in my lifetime that I can remember. That's one thing. And, I think it's like something out of a - it's a movie. I mean in some ways it's Hollywood. It's the kind of things you see in movies and on television shows that never really happen in real life, only this time it's happening in real life.


KING: Terrific new book just out, it's called "Sniper: Inside the Hunt for the Killers who Terrorized the Nation." There you see its cover. It's co-authored by the Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter of the Metropolitan staff of the "Washington Post" Sari Horwitz, and the general assignment reporter of the Maryland desk of the "Washington Post," Michael Ruane.

You'll all remember in the period of 20 days last year, 13 people in the Washington, D.C. area randomly selected and shot as they went about their daily lives.

Did you cover this, Sari, at the time?

SARI HORWITZ, "WASHINGTON POST", CO-AUTHOR "SNIPER": We both did. We were part of a large team from the "Washington Post" of about 30 reporters and editors who covered this as the story broke.

KING: What, Michael, about this - what about doing this book, putting it all together surprised you?

MICHAEL RUANE, "WASHINGTON POST," CO-AUTHOR "SNIPER": Well, we were amazed by the level to which the suspects were under the noses of the police the whole time.

They were - they had an amazing invisibility which they sort of discovered themselves early in the game, tested it out, and realized, hey, they don't know what we look like. They don't know what kind of car we're driving. We're completely invisible and we can do anything we want.

And, they realized that they had such a huge jump and huge lead on the police investigation that they could just run off and do almost anything they wanted and the authorities were powerless to do anything about it.

KING: Fascinating. Sari, was this poor police work?

HORWITZ: You know that's interesting. This was the ultimate true crime story.

KING: Yes.

HORWITZ: And what we did here is we parted the curtain and went behind the scenes and, you know, for most people who followed this everybody saw Chief Moose out in front doing the daily press conferences. But, behind the curtain, there was a whole world of hundreds of agents and police on the front lines who were investigating this and who had never spoken publicly before and they spoke to us and what we found in this book this incredible gripping drama of these investigators working around the clock to solve this crime.

And, in some instances we found, you know, extraordinarily good police work, especially toward the end when they solved the case but in the middle of the case there was some critical missteps, errors in judgment and really big failures in the middle of the case.

KING: Michael, do we know why the alleged suspects did what they did?

RUANE: Three of the classic motives for homicide, revenge, power, and money. The chief suspect John Muhammad (ph) had been involved in a bitter domestic dispute with his wife and she believed that he came to the Washington area to kill her.

And that revenge motive somehow sort of mutated into this sort of sniper crusade which brought in this incredible power that they discovered they had over the society and then this crazy notion that they could extort $10 million just by upping their brutality with each killing.

HORWITZ: You know, Larry, along with the revenge and Muhammad wanting to get his wife, he also had incredible anger toward this country, anger toward the military where he had spent 17 years, anger toward Americans.

It's interesting after 9/11 his friends said he talked a lot about how America got what it deserved and he spoke about, you know, this is what this country deserved to several people in the Tacoma, Washington area and he talked about killing police. And so, along with this personal revenge he had this political anger.

KING: How did you get - usually they don't talk, Michael, how did you get SWAT team members to talk?

RUANE: Larry, they were dying to talk.

KING: Really?

RUANE: Yes, because the version of the SWAT takedown had been reported incorrectly several other times.


RUANE: And they were - they were such pros, the SWAT guys who talked to us and so proud of that job they did that they - that they walked us through it in the most careful detail and told us in this beautiful scene they recounted how they - the leaders of the SWAT team got on helicopters and were being helicoptered out to where the sleeping suspects were at a rest stop.

And, looking down below them on the darkened streets at three o'clock in the morning below they could see the dome lights of police cars streaming northwestward toward this rest stop where they - where the authorities after three weeks finally had their quarry in the bag.

KING: Sari, did you go to Tacoma where the story began?

HORWITZ: Michael went to Tacoma. He interviewed friends of Muhammad's in Tacoma.

KING: Did you talk to victims' relatives?

HORWITZ: We did. We spoke to families. What we tried to do in this book is talk to everybody involved in the case, the police, the FBI, the ATF, the families, the eyewitnesses.

We found many eyewitnesses, for example, throughout the Washington area that kept spotting that Chevy Caprice that they were in but they didn't come forward because all they heard about was that mythical white van that the police were just locked into that theory of the white van.

KING: Michael, isn't random killers the toughest to find since you're not pinning down, they don't kill - they don't kill Sylvia because she's Sylvia?

RUANE: Very much, you know, and we think that in a lot of ways these suspects were making this up as they went along which made it even more difficult. They didn't know what they were going to do next, which made it even more impossible for the police to figure it out.

KING: Wow. Sari, this kind of story, which I remember being around Washington for a few of those days, every white van was in jeopardy, right?

HORWITZ: That's right. You know, Larry, there are 70,000 white vans just in Maryland alone so, you know, they were getting 20,000 to 30,000 tips a day and what's interesting about that, they were so overloaded, those telephone lines. It was just telephone chaos and when Malvo and Muhammad called in they could not get through the phone lines.

You know it's very interesting a lot has been said about this tarot card that was left but we found that the true story of the tarot card has never been told. The tarot card was left at the scene of the Bowie shooting and what happened is the press - it was leaked to the press, the "Post" and a television channel released it but we released it incorrectly.

We said that the tarot card actually said "I am God" and so all these people called on the line saying "I am God." But what the tarot card really said, and we have it on the cover of our book and on the back, it said "Call me God" and so, you know, so really the only people that knew it said "Call me God" after (unintelligible)...

KING: Were the killers. HORWITZ: Were the killers and the police but the police, nervous about confidentiality didn't tell the people answering the phone. So, Malvo, who they think Malvo called in to a police officer and said code "Call me God" and the police officer transferred him, not knowing what the code was.

KING: Hey, we're anxious to read this. I want to do more on it too and thank you both very much.

HORWITZ: Thank you.

RUANE: Thank you.

KING: Sari Horwitz and Michael Ruane, the co-authors of "Sniper: Inside the Hunt for the Killers who Terrorized a Nation," available everywhere, published by Random House. We'll be right back.


CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE: We understand that you communicated with us by calling several different locations. Our inability to talk has been a concern to us as it has been for you. You have indicated that you want us to do and say certain things. You asked us to say, "we have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose." We understand that hearing us say this is important to you.




JOEY BISHOP: Hey Sam, get them up. Get them up. Huh, you look great. Is that what a (unintelligible) does for a guy?

DEAN MARTIN: You get them up now, come on.

BISHOP: Go ahead, shoot one in there.

MARTIN: Hey, Mousie, you look almost human, you quit fighting?

BISHOP: Yes, Sam, I was running out of scar tissue.


KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Michael Starr the TV columnist for the "New York Post," author of a new book "Mouse in the Rat Pack: The Joey Bishop Story." Joey's been on this program, a guy I've known for years.

Is it true, Michael, that that's his own description of himself?

MICHAEL STARR, AUTHOR, "MOUSE IN THE RAT PACK": Yes. He always said if he wrote his own book he would call it I was a mouse in the rat pack and I think, you know, he's very self deprecating and so that kind of makes a lot of sense. KING: Joey was a very, very funny comic. What led you - why has he been forgotten like?

STARR: You know it's funny. People of a certain age remember Joey. He was all over the place in the '60s. He had his own sitcom. He had a talk show. He was a sub-in for Johnny Carson but people have a very select memory. They think of the Rat Pack and they think of - they think of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr., who of course were, you know, the main components.

But, you know, Joey was a big part of their success. He wrote all their stage patter. He was sort of chauffeuring them around on stage and he wrote all those great lines that they used.

He was in "Oceans Eleven" with them, you know, helped out on the movie. But I think people have a very select memory when it comes to that and they just, Joey is not among those people they think back on.

KING: He was certainly of the pack the funniest.

STARR: Yes, he was. He was Frank Sinatra's favorite comedian, always broke Frank up whenever, you know, they were on stage or off stage even and he was known as Sinatra's comic. Frank - he opened for Frank in the '50s and the '60s whenever Frank was in New York.

KING: Did he work closely with you on the book?

STARR: No. Joey and I talked on and off for several years about doing a book together and then when it came down to crunch time he kind of wavered and I just ended up doing it myself and he knew about it but he really didn't want to participate even though, you know, he knew I was doing it.

KING: Didn't that make it tougher?

STARR: A little bit. You know I didn't use any of the stuff that he and I had talked about, you know, before but I knew sort of what his feelings were and, you know, he was so (unintelligible) in the '60s that there was so much information about him when I spoke to people he worked with and people he knew that it was easy to sort of fill in the blanks.

KING: When Frank Sinatra died Joey was on this show. We did a memorial show.


KING: People said to me that Joey sounded bitter. Would you describe him that way?

STARR: Yes. I think he is a little bitter. I mentioned his appearance on your show in my book as a matter of fact. I think he's - he's - it's a dichotomy. On the one hand he's angry that he didn't get all the credit that he thinks he deserved. I think he deserves it too.

KING: Yes.

STARR: On the other hand he doesn't want to brag about, you know, being Sinatra's pal, so it's a very strange, you know, down the middle type of thing.

KING: He also, Joey, had a wonderful kind of comedic attitude, didn't he?

STARR: Yes. His attitude was, you know, I want to be overheard rather than heard.

KING: Yes.

STARR: You know he'd sit on the end of the couch on the "Jack Parr Show," you know, for an hour and then finally pipe up and, you know, he would say to Jack Parr I just wanted to let you know I was still here, you know, that sort of thing, and he was beloved, you know, in the industry. Jack Benny loved him. Danny Thomas loved him because he was sort of the master of the one-liner and the improv, you know, throwing off a line here and there.

KING: Had a Philadelphia like many successful people in show business, right?

STARR: Yes, yes. Yes, his father ran a bicycle shop. Joey was born in the Bronx but then moved to Philly when he was about three months old and, yes, he came out of that whole - there was a whole bunch of comedians and then singers and people like that that came out of that same South Philadelphia neighborhood that Joey grew up in.

KING: I'll bet this book does well only for the fact that people have got to be curious about what happened to him. A whole generation of people loved Joey.


KING: And you never see him.

STARR: You never see him except, you know, like as you said before when Frank Sinatra died he was on your show and he was all over the place. People forget that Regis Philbin was Joey's sidekick on his late night talk show.

KING: Right.

STARR: And I think when the show didn't work out, it was on for about two and a half years on ABC, I think it was a big - a big blow to Joey and I don't think he ever quite recovered from that and sort of went into semi retirement after that. He never was really as present as he was, you know, while the show was on and before that.

KING: He was a great stand-up, was he not?

STARR: Yes, he was. He sold out in Vegas. He sold out in Miami. He sold out all over the place. I mean here is a guy who, you know, worked for 20 years in the clubs before he finally hit it big, even though he was selling out the Copa in the '50s.

KING: Yes.

STARR: But once he became associated with Frank Sinatra that opened up all sorts of doors for him including the stage shows with the Rat Pack and "Oceans Eleven" and (unintelligible).

KING: And his sitcom was terrific too. I loved it.

STARR: Yes, the sitcom was good. It was never quite a raving smash.


STARR: But it wasn't a failure. It was sort of in between and he had Abby Dalton on and he had a lot of good guest starts. Jack Benny came on. Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Dean Martin, they all came on the show. Frank never did which I think always stuck in Joey's craw.

KING: Going to do another book, Michael?

STARR: Yes. I'm working on a book now about the great Bobby Darin.


STARR: Which will be published by (unintelligible), same people who did the Joey Bishop book and it will be great. I'm getting a lot of people for this one.

KING: They're thinking about a movie about him, aren't they?

STARR: Yes, they are, Kevin Spacey's going to...

KING: Kevin Spacey.

STARR: Yes, Spacey is making the movie now as we speak and, you know...

KING: (Unintelligible.)

STARR: Died tragically young, was such a talented man. It's unbelievable.

KING: Michael, thank you as always.

STARR: Thanks, Larry, appreciate it.

KING: TV columnist for the "New York Post," good writer, Michael Starr, the book "Mouse in the Rat Pack: The Joey Bishop Story," back with more after this.


MARTIN: (Singing) Oh, what a mess I'm in. Nevertheless I'm in love with you. Oh, stop it.



KING: We welcome to this program an old, dear friend of mine, Herb Cohen, the renowned negotiator, best-selling author, his new book "Negotiate This by Caring but not that Much," there you see its cover.

It's been a long wait. His first book, "You can Negotiate Anything" a runaway best-seller on the "New York Times" was written 23 years ago. Why so long a wait?

HERB COHEN, AUTHOR "NEGOTIATE THIS": Well, right after I wrote that book and it got on the best-seller list, publishers came to me with offers. They wanted me to write the son of you can negotiate anything. You can negotiate anything returns. You still can negotiate anything but I really didn't have anything to say and I felt that you owe your readers really something and I waited until I could write a good book that I thought was even better.

KING: That is not - in other words, it's sort of like a - it's an update of the first book or much more?

COHEN: It's different. It has greater depth. I think it has more humor. It deals with more practical problems. It deals with things like terrorism, the problems in the Mid East, politics, parenting. We all parent.

KING: Yes. By the way, I did read the book in galley form (unintelligible). It is terrific. If it's possible to top that first book you did. It's a terrific read. Even though we're old and dear friends I wholeheartedly endorse this book.

When you hear the word negotiate you think business. Do people negotiate every day? Do mothers, fathers negotiate?

COHEN: Yes. In fact, children negotiate. These are little people in a big person's world. They are people without formal power or authority yet they seem to get a lot of what they want.

Now, how do they do it? Number one they aim high. Kids know that if you expect more you get more and so they raise the expectation level of the parents. The second thing the kids do is they understand decision making within their family, which means they go to the mom and dad and are rejected.

Do they stop there? No, they appeal to the next level, grandparents. In fact they form coalitions with grandparents because they have a common enemy, the parents.

The third thing kids do is they know that no is an opening bargaining position. You tell them no they go right ahead. They persist. They persevere. They weigh you down.

KING: And why do they win a lot? COHEN: Why do they win? Because they tire you out. Look, in my case, my wife and I are the parents of three children. The first child, our daughter Sharon, we used to have high standards and insist that she adhere to those standards.

Second child, we had the same standard with Steve only many more exceptions. Third child we were tired people, Larry. I remember saying to the third kid, Rich, hey, why don't you ask your brother and sister. They'll tell you how it used to be around here.

KING: What do you mean by caring but not that much?

COHEN: Probably the reason why we don't do well in negotiations is that we're too emotionally involved. We act like this is a watershed event in western civilization and we completely lose our perspective instead of thinking in terms of options, alternatives and believing you've got more power than you realize.

And so, if you can get people to step back and practice conscious inattention, which is really what I tell you how to do in this book, you'll find that things come to you.

In fact, as the great negotiator Kenny Rogers once said, you got to know when to hold them and once in a while be prepared to fold them and walk away and if the other side senses you've got options and I fold them and walk away they don't let you fold them and walk away.

KING: What is not negotiable?

COHEN: Ethical, moral, and religious principles because they were not the product of a negotiation. Aside from what Mel Brooks would have you believe, the Ten Commandments is not a negotiated document.

Christ did not get together with his followers on the Sermon on the Mount and say, hey, let's form a task force, work things out see what goes. Since those items are not the product of a negotiation they're not negotiable but virtually everything else is.

KING: How do you - before we get into terror and other things, how do you recommend people use this book?

COHEN: Well, I recommend that you recognize that negotiating is the life blood of relationships that more things are negotiable than people realize and you start out looking at things as a problem to be solved.

The other night knowing it's my wife Ellen's birthday, I found myself in Nordstrom's. I didn't have a lot of time. I went into the fine jewelry department. I encountered a salesperson and they gave me the price of this particular jewelry. I said you don't understand. My people we don't pay retail, you know. It's a matter of principle.

She said well this is Nordstrom's and we don't negotiate fine jewelry. I said can I speak to the manager. You know, in other words, why waste my time with the monkey. I can deal directly with the organ grinder.

And the manager comes over and instead of my pounding my fists, you know, I start out in an amicable fashion with a low key pose of calculated incompetence. I said to the manager, look, I like the jewelry. You would like to sell it to me only I have a problem in paying full price. How can we work this out?

And, the manager was very creative. She said wait a second we don't negotiate fine jewelry, the price, however if you were a Nordstrom's cardholder we automatically give you a ten or 15 percent discount and she handed me the application. I signed up and so, Larry, I got the discount and you're now looking at a card carrying Nordstrom's person.

KING: They negotiated with you by getting you to sign the thing and you negotiated with them and you got the lower price.


KING: There's a joy in this, isn't it, in being detached?

COHEN: Yes, it's - you recognize it's a game. You're really having fun and you try to achieve outcomes where both sides benefit. You want to build mutually beneficial or mutually profitable relationships. As far as I'm concerned negotiating is best played as a game of addition and not subtraction or exclusion.

KING: And winning is win-win, right?

COHEN: Yes. That's the only way, especially if you have continuing relationships. If you win at the other side's expense they don't forget it. They wait for you the next time around.

KING: So, in a boss/employer salary raise both should be happy at the end of the thing?

COHEN: Oh, absolutely. You know people occasionally ask me, they say I have a dopey boss, incompetent, a moron, what do I do? I tell them get him promoted. That's the way you deal with that stuff.

KING: We'll take a break and come back and we'll talk about things on a national and international scale with Herb Cohen the author of "Negotiate This by Caring but not that Much" published by Warner Books. We'll be right back.


KING: We're back with Herb Cohen, his new book "Negotiate This by Caring but not that Much." He wrote the enormously successful "You can Negotiate Anything" many years ago and "Negotiate This" now out is available everywhere. He has negotiated on a national and international level. He's done missions for Presidents Carter, Reagan and Clinton.

What about negotiating with terrorists? Can you? COHEN: Well, actually one of the things you don't want to do is reward criminal behavior, so but do you negotiate with terrorists, of course you do. It's just how you do it because when we say initially we don't negotiate with terrorists that's an opening bargaining position.

But you don't want to make concessions and reward that kind of behavior because if you reward behavior like that it gets repeated and that's why terrorism grows.

KING: Does terrorism generally succeed?

COHEN: Well, if you look at the past 20 years it certainly has. I mean Yasser Arafat was a person who, you know, was responsible for killing many Americans, diplomats, civilians. He's implicated in a lot of terrorist acts. He, of course, put the Palestinians on the map but certainly he went against civilians.

But what terrorism is, is where you directly aim to kill civilians. It's not collateral damage so, you know, once you engage with non-combatants or civilians that's terrorism.

KING: Is the Mid East insoluble?

COHEN: No, I think it is soluble and I think we do a lot of good things. We do some silly things. We don't understand how they negotiate. For example, in America we have a norm of reciprocity because you remember, Larry, your mother told you, as my mother told me, Herbie, Larry, when we were little boys if you be nice to people they'll be nice to you and mothers are right about 85 percent of the time. You know, 15 percent...

KING: Wrong.

COHEN: You're playing tit for tat. They're playing rat for tat. But in the Middle East that doesn't always work out that way and so when Ehud Barak, for example, pulled Israel's troops out of southern Lebanon without getting any concessions from Hezbollah, what in effect he was doing was he was saying to them, hey, we're weak.

Your killing of civilians and military people is causing us to withdraw and so unintentionally, of course, and I like Ehud Barak, what he did was he probably helped trigger the second militant intafada.

KING: This book touches all the bases, right, negotiating with your children to negotiating country-to-country?

COHEN: Country-to-country, it deals with getting a job, buying a car, you know, which is to me a funny experience. You know and I don't like to do this. I bought enough new cars in my life but my wife comes home, you know, sees me sitting around on Friday night and says Mr. Negotiator, by the way this is not a term of endearment in my household, why don't you go out and deal with your people because we need a car? My people, according to her, are used car dealers, you know. But all of us do that and these people are very predictable and I laid out what they do. You know they show you the sticker price, which is literally stuck to the car. They put you in sticker shock and then, you know, they make concessions. You know you don't know what to do. The price is so high so you kick a tire. You rub the hood. You open and close the door. They drop $3,000.

So, what do you do? You kick the tire. You rub the hood, down $1,500. Keep kicking that tire, down $750. Then the salesman takes $350 out of his own pocket, the bread from his children's mouth. He gives it to you. I'm always moved by that gesture. I take $150 out of my personal allowance. I give it to him.

Then he throws in the undercoating and he gives you these new mats, OK. Now, you're only $100 apart and the salesman begins to play the game. See, heretofore he'd been speaking to you in a normal fashion and now suddenly he's checking for overhead surveillance and he starts talking to you through the side of his mouth.

Now, when that happens, Larry, I tell you the first thing I think is the guy had a stroke. Hey, you all right? Can I get you a glass of water? Nothing is worth this, you know, relax.

Now, why is the man talking to you through the side of his mouth? He's learned that offers made through the side of the mouth have 27 percent more credibility than offers made up front.

KING: Because I think I'm getting something nobody knows?

COHEN: Yes. Nobody knows it's a one of a kind. It's a special for you and then he always says I don't have the authority to give you the last $100 and all of us, all your viewers, we all say the same thing as if we're on cruise control. Who has the authority?

And they always point. There's a salesman upstairs. There's a dealer living next door in a shack. Why would the dealer live in a shack? The dealership is four city blocks. He lives there with his dogs. You know, hey, it's the game.

KING: Nobody plays it better than Herbie and I don't know of a more worthwhile book and not another 23 years before the next one.

COHEN: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Herb Cohen, the renowned negotiator and good friend, best- selling author. "Playboy" magazine called him the world's greatest negotiator. His new book "Negotiate This by Caring but not that Much," available everywhere.

We'll be back after this.


KING: Hope you enjoyed tonight's diversified edition of LARRY KING LIVE from Joey Bishop to sniper stories to experts in negotiation to tragedy in the Middle East.

We invite you to stay tuned now for more news on your most trusted name in news CNN. See you tomorrow night. Goodnight.


Michael Starr, Herb Cohen>

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