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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interviews With Katey Sagal, Denise Austin, Richard Hack, Robert Reich
Aired June 20, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Katey Sagal on the future of her top rated show, "8 Simple Rules" after John Ritter's untimely death. And on resuming the career she had before TV, with a new music CD.
Also, fitness queen Denise Austin. After seven books and 50 workout videos, she's now found the ultimate key to keeping everybody in shape. And then, rumors of homosexuality and cross-dressing are nothing compared to the truth behind the legend of former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, biographer Richard Hack tells all.
And then Labor Secretary Robert Reich says liberals will win the battle for America. He'll tell us how and why. They are all next, on LARRY KING LIVE.
We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, return visit with Katey Sagal, the star of the ABC series "8 Simple Rules," who has just released a new album. It's titled "Room." It's her first album since her 1994 debut "Well". What a title, "Room."
KATEY SAGAL, ACTRESS: "Room."
SAGAL: Meaning -- well it meant a lot of things. I sort of started the record when I was -- do they even call them records? I think it's CD's.
KING: Yes, I still call them records.
SAGAL: Album -- I do too. They go around -- yes, so to me that's what they are too. But I started it when I was going through a transitional time in my life. At the end of it, it really sort of symbolized it. I had made room to change, and room to grow. I recorded it in a little room.
I mean it actually kind of fit lots of different things.
KING: Did you write the songs?
SAGAL: I wrote four of them. On my last one I wrote all of them. And this one I wanted to do some covers. So I just really sang some of my favorite songs.
KING: Like? SAGAL: Well I sang an old Donovan song which was the first song I ever learned to play on the guitar when I was 13 years old. I sang an old Dobie Gray song that I always really liked.
KING: Are you a singer who acts, or an actor who sings?
SAGAL: Well, I started as a singer. I didn't actually begin professionally acting until I was 30. So you know, my plan was that I was going to make records, and be a rock star. And that's really what I wanted to do. And I sang from the time I was very young.
KING: So you're still a singer who is acting.
SAGAL: Yes, I'm a singer. Now I'm both. I'm an actor and a singer.
KING: If careers changed, and the singing took off, would you give up acting?
SAGAL: I don't want to think in terms of giving it up with anything. I mean I feel pretty much grateful to be able to do whatever ...
KING: You are comfortable as a singer.
SAGAL: I'm very comfortable as a singer. In fact, I think it's more -- I identified my self-esteem, my self more in those ways when I was growing up. I really -- it was kind of my calling card as a kid.
KING: How would you describe the type of singer you are?
SAGAL: I think I'm a soulful singer.
SAGAL: I grew up listening to a lot of soul music, and a lot of folk music.
KING: But you are white.
SAGAL: Yes I am. And I sound like you know, that way. I don't sound like a soul singer, but that's what I like. So I think this record is kind of an acoustically soul folk record.
KING: Your first one was called "Well."
SAGAL: Yes. And you are going to ask me what that's about.
KING: You bet. It wasn't about a well.
SAGAL: I think that was like "Oh well."
SAGAL: I could have. But "Well" read better. I think -- that CD also came out of a time of transition. Each time I seem to go through one of life's huge things, I want to play music. So that was at a time when I think I was sort of reflective and sitting back and saying well, stuff happens.
KING: Did they ever have you sing on "8 Simple Rules"?
SAGAL: Well they have. And actually there is this song on there that I sang a couple of months ago that I wrote about my dad called "Daddy's Girl." So they've actually -- it's not that her character is a singer, but she had ambition to do that at an earlier time in her life. So I've actually sung two or three times now on the show.
KING: That's the most successful show on ABC right? I think the most successful sitcom.
SAGAL: I think so yes. We're doing well. And we're coming back.
KING: How has it settled -- and I know we did a whole show on (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and the like. How has it settled in when John's gone?
SAGAL: Well, I think that we're in the natural progression of it. Which is that we are more in acceptance of it now.
KING: It was denial for a while right?
KING: Well you go through all of that. Getting upset about it, and angry about it. And sad of course. And then I think now we are -- you know his -- like I've always said. His spirit is so large that we feel his presence around the show, and we always will. He will always have a voice.
KING: Are you very comfortable with comedy? Because "Married...With Children" was like pure laughs.
SAGAL: Yes, that was pure laughs. I really like sort of disappearing. Yes, so I am pretty comfortable with it. I think because of my ...
KING: You like disappearing.
SAGAL: Well into characters, yes. I think because of my music background actually I have sort of -- comedy is about time and rhythm. And I sort of naturally fell towards comedy. And I think -- I really do. I think it's because of my music background that ...
KING: How did you get into acting? You were just a singer.
SAGAL: Yes. I ended up, I did a show here in Los Angeles at the Music Center which was a rock opera. This was when I was in my late 20's. And I sang the entire piece. It was written by Elizabeth Swados who is sort avant garde poet.
KING: The whole thing was music.
SAGAL: Yes. It was an opera actually. A rock opera. And I was asked to come audition for a sitcom from casting people from CBS. And I thought well, OK. But that's really not what I do. And I thought it was very interesting that they wanted me for a comedy. This was this very dramatic piece. I played a Russian poet.
And so I went. And it was with Mary Tyler Moore. And Danny DeVito was the director. And I got this job.
KING: Liked it?
SAGAL: Liked it very much. And really didn't know what I was doing, but I was with Mary who was very sweet with me. And helped me.
KING: And why you liked it?
SAGAL: Well I liked all the attention. I mean why does anybody -- why do we do what we do?
KING: I mean do you like being other people?
SAGAL: I did. I very much liked that. I think it came somewhat naturally for me. I think we respond well when we do something well.
KING: In a sense, singing is acting right? I mean you could feel very good, and you have to sing a sad song.
SAGAL: Yes that's true. And I like to interpret music. So I think it's all interpretive. Music is extremely intuitive, which acting too in a different way.
KING: Sinatra said for the singer it's the lyric. The music's fine, but it's the lyric. Do you agree?
SAGAL: I don't know if I agree that it's solely that. For me it's also -- the music is equally as important. I mean I think as somebody who writes music, there just has to sort of be the marriage between both.
KING: All right. Now what do you do with a CD by confined? You have an obligation.
KING: Can you go out and your?
SAGAL: My idea, what I would like in a perfect world is that I can go and play weekends.
KING: Play clubs?
SAGAL: Clubs, little theaters. That kind of work. I love to perform live. So I'm hoping that enough people show interest in this, then it warrants me to go and do that. And you know, my schedule on television -- actually my schedule with my kids is the real -- is the one that I'm mostly married to. So I have a fun time.
KING: How old are they? SAGAL: They are eight and nine.
KING: You need time at eight and nine.
SAGAL: You need time. And I'm on hands on. I just look at I have a lot of opportunities to do things. And I just have to schedule well.
KING: Do they like it when their Mommy sings?
SAGAL: They do now. I mean they are so funny. It's like of I sing in the car with the radio they're just completely humiliated and embarrassed. They make me stop. But they like this CD. And they like to listen to it.
KING: We'll be back with more of Katey Sagal. The CD is "Room." You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN RITTER, ACTOR: You're teaching sex education?
SAGAL: Oh yes. The school needed a nurse to fill in because Miss Callahan got the flu.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? I heard she got knocked up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just say that without even totally considering how it can completely ruin my life?
RITTER: Bridgette, I think it's an honor your mother is going to teach you sexual education after all she taught me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ew!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Katey Sagal. You can obtain the CD entitled "Room" from her Web site, right?
KING: What is that?
SAGAL: You can order it at kateysagal.net.
KING: That's pretty simple.
SAGAL: Yes, very simple.
KING: One word, kateysagal.
SAGAL: One word, keteysagal.net. Sagal. So many people spell it wrong. I even get Steven Segal's mail. I get his mail. KING: Now your fiance writes songs with you?
SAGAL: Actually, he wrote one song with me.
KING: Because he writes for "The Shield" right?
SAGAL: Yes, he's a writer, and one of the producers on "The Shield." And he's a wonderful writer.
KING: Did you see that? That's a pretty heavy show, "The Shield."
SAGAL: I know, isn't it? I know. He's very sweet.
KING: It's not Mary Poppins.
SAGAL: No, it's not Mary Poppins. But he's wonderfully not that way. But also, I don't know what goes on there a lot. But he wrote the lyrics to one song. And it's beautiful. He's a poet.
KING: "Just Wish I was a Kid"?
SAGAL: Yes. We sort of talked about what I wanted the song to be about. And he wrote beautiful lyrics.
KING: Are all these songs on the sadder side?
SAGAL: No, I don't think so.
KING: Because we mentioned blues, and the blues are associated ...
SAGAL: Well they are on the emotional side. I'm a pretty emotional person. So I'm not really singing songs -- I don't know if any of them are light hearted. But I wouldn't say they're sad. I think they have -- every song has some sort of meaning for me that was going on at that time in my life. So there's definitely emotional content.
KING: Any song called Room?
SAGAL: There is no song called Room. No, "Room" came after the whole project, and we were thinking what should we name this?
KING: Normally they put the title to one of the songs.
SAGAL: Sometimes you do. But I didn't do that. It was more sort of reflecting on what the whole experience had been about.
KING: How does the cast feel about this?
SAGAL: They are so sweet and lovely. And they just love that I sing. And they're like my second family. So they are happy.
KING: You grew up where?
SAGAL: Here. Los Angeles. Born here. Hollywood.
KING: Your father was in the business.
SAGAL: Director, Yes.
SAGAL: Television. He did -- my father did the first mini- series. He did "Rich Man, Poor Man." "Masada."
KING: He did "Rich Man, Poor Man"?
SAGAL: Yes he did all that. He did "Dr. Kildaire." He did "Man From U.N.C.L.E."
KING: What was his name?
SAGAL: Boris Sagal. Did you know him?
KING: Is he alive?
KING: I know all the stuff you mentioned. I didn't know him, but I know of "Rich Man, Poor Man", "Masada."
SAGAL: No, he passed away many years ago. About 20 years ago now.
KING: So you grew up in and around it.
SAGAL: Yes. I grew up all around this. And I think that's why I was going to be a musician. I was very rebellious. And I didn't want to be an actor. My father used to say to me you should be an actor if you want to be in the arts.
KING: Were you a show business child?
KING: You know what I mean.
SAGAL: You mean like around...
KING: Did they take you around when you were seven?
SAGAL: No. No, no. My parents were very non-show business. They were very -- we didn't have movie stars hanging around. We didn't have you know -- it was the family business. When you grow up around it, I just watched my father work really hard. He wasn't around as much as I would have liked. And when I grew up, I understood why.
But no, it was not glamorous. And it was not glitzy.
KING: Did you go to Beverly Hills High? SAGAL: I didn't. I went to Palisades High. But we moved around a lot. Until he finally kind of established himself, we moved from Hollywood, to Encino, to New York, to -- we moved everywhere.
KING: "Married...With Children" was on how long?
SAGAL: Eleven years.
KING: That was a very controversial show, right?
KING: When FOX first put it on, I remember it was a whole (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about the way they dressed the child.
SAGAL: Big deal.
KING: Some of the attitudes of that program. Was that considered like a bellwether show?
SAGAL: What does that mean?
KING: Forerunner of things to come.
SAGAL: I think in hindsight, it definitely has been that. I mean it was so -- the controversy though is actually what got all those big ratings for us. Because we ended up on the front of the "New York Times" because this woman was trying to censor us.
KING: Take it off.
SAGAL: And we were all about, we don't want to be censored. Just change the channel. So it became -- it was sort of the beginning. I mean I look at television now compared to -- and our show was like nothing.
KING: Did you like Peg Bundy?
SAGAL: I loved Peg Bundy. I am so happy that I got to do that. It was really fun.
KING: Did you like him?
SAGAL: Eddie? I love Ed. Have you met Ed?
SAGAL: You should have Ed. Ed is the greatest guy. He is so down to earth. And regular guy.
KING: Was that a fun show to do? SAGAL: It was really fun. It was fun for a lot of reasons. It was fun because nobody thought that we would be successful. It was on a network that wasn't even there at the time.
SAGAL: Yes, they had like little rabbit ears on your television. I mean it was ridiculous. And so to watch it kind of happen the way it did, we didn't really know what was going on. But like within three years, all of the sudden it had all this attention.
KING: Still have the wig?
SAGAL: In my basement.
KING: The album is "Room."
KING: Thank you Dear.
KING: Best of luck with it.
KING: Katey Sagal. Perfect sound. Perfect lady.
When we come back, another one of our favorite people, Denise Austin. We're going to go jumping around because she's kind of excited. Don't go away. We'll be right back.
KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE one of my favorite people, Denise Austin. Her newest tape just out is -- she gets kind of excited. Is "Power Zone; The Ultimate Metabolism-Boosting Workout." I have it in front of me, with a free fitness band inside.
She's one of America's top fitness experts with seven books, and 50 workout videos. What do we mean by the ultimate metabolism-booting workout?
DENISE AUSTIN, FITNESS EXPERT: Well what I did was incorporate groovy aerobic workout. Your working with a resistance band. So you're toning muscle at the same time you're burning fat. And really getting your cardiovascular workout in.
So you're getting two workouts in one. And that's the best way to workout. Because that way you kind of save your 25 minutes for a good cardio workout. But also you firm up your muscles. And I got the resistance band here.
KING: I've got one here.
AUSTIN: So while you are doing the aerobics your still firming -- oh great! You can be firming up your muscles, and yes.
KING: In all the years you've been doing this, how come you first discovered this now?
AUSTIN: Well you know, we've been working out with weights for so many years. Dumb bells. But what I figured out that one of the best things to do. Especially, I've been working with women, and people with arthritis. Well a lot of them couldn't balance it. And just holding on to it really hurt their hands.
So this is working with weights in a way, because it's showing resistance without that balancing problem. So it's a great way for beginners to start out to firm their muscles, and at the same time, all the way you can work up to an advanced. And this is kind of a great way to travel. You can travel with these resistance bands. And just get a pumped up workout just in five minutes.
KING: Sit on an airplane and do it. Like do you have the exercise on an airplane ones?
KING: Hope you remember that.
AUSTIN: That's right. Well there's lots of little things. Yes. There's lots of exercise you can do while sitting down. Did you know the average American sits for seven-and-a-half hours a day? And this week we found out that for those of you that commute long hours, your risk for obesity goes up.
So what are we going to do? We've got to sit there and tighten up our tummy. Use your muscles while you're sitting. So squeeze your buttocks. These are called isometric exercises, and they really work if you do them. You can tighten up your tummy muscles for five seconds. Tighten it up, pull it in, and that's equal to a sit-up.
And squeeze your buttocks. Com on. These exercises help throughout the day to keep the circulation going. And the video is great because I did four workouts. Come on, relax now. Take a breather, Larry.
KING: No, I want to ask you. What does this do? What does this do, this fitness band. If I'm doing this, I have the resistance, what is it doing for me?
KING: I feel it. What is it doing?
AUSTIN: Well you are firming the muscles. Yes. You're actually contracting the muscles. So you're targeting specific R muscles. Your shoulders, your -- like these exercises I could be firming up my upper back so my waistline goes in. They are firming up your muscles. They are strength training.
We now know through research how important strength train is to keep us young. To keep our muscles firmed up. Because muscles are very active at rest. While fat cells are very sedentary. So our goal to keep our weight down is to build more muscles in the body.
And this is just one form of muscle conditioning. Resistance training. And I love it just because it's easy. Everybody can do it. Even if you are just a beginner. I have a whole series of tummy exercises with this. Arm exercises, and legs.
So in the workout video, you get four workouts. And aerobic workout for 25 minutes, and the whole time you're using the resistance band to really firm up your muscles. See, I'm really tightening muscles. Instead of just doing this, I'm having a purpose to this. A benefit. I'm firming up the muscle.
KING: Do you know why Denise we are ...
AUSTIN: It's two workouts in one,. It's easier.
KING: Do you know why we are an obese country?
AUSTIN: Well, I just think people are overeating, and not exercising enough. And that's what it comes down to. We really need to move more. Be active more. We know now that exercise is one of the best ways -- it's preventative medicine. It's the best way to get circulation going. It's your best way to boost the metabolism.
And did you know only five minutes of exercise can really help get a little more -- get that metabolism going? So if you can do five in the morning, five in the afternoon, five in the evening, you've got a 15-minute workout.
So everyone has just got to start. Start small, and do a little at a time. That's why in the video I have a 10-minute workout, For people just starting out. Then you can do the next workout, the upper body. Then you can do your ab workout.
But all the muscles. We have over 640 muscles, need to be strong to feel better, to be healthy. And that's what it's all about. I'm not in to being a skinny-minny. It's about trying to get healthier, be fit, and also exercise will make you good. And you'll have more energy. And that's important too for all of us.
KING: Denise, should exercise be diverse, or should you do the same thing everyday?
AUSTIN: No, you should be very diverse. I love variety, because it changes the muscle groups. It surprises them. If you do the same exercise for eight weeks, you become -- your body becomes on a plateau. So you have to change it up. That's why I've got Yoga, pilates, aerobic training. It's really good to kind of give yourself variety because you are mixing it up. You're kind of changing and surprising your muscles.
You don't want to ever have your muscles adapt to something. Like people say, well Denise, I walk. Well that's great. Keep it up. But now add a little strength training to your workout. Maybe just 10 minutes two days a week. Then you start to see a big difference. It's always trying to change that metabolism. Boost that metabolism.
And there is two ways to do it. Exercise, and guess what the other one is. Eating. Eating right actually, helps boost that metabolism. So that's why you never want to starve yourself, or skip meals. Because it slows you metabolism. So you have to boost that metabolism, exercise, and eating right throughout the day, small meals, will help you keep that energy level up, and keep that metabolism lifting.
KING: Can't do one without the other. We'll take a break and come right back. Denise Austin's latest video is "Power Zone; The Ultimate Metabolism Boosting Workout." And it comes with this free fitness band inside. And we'll be right back with Denise right after this.
KING: We're back with Denise Austin. The "Power Zone" is the new video. You're on the President's council on physical fitness. What do you do with them?
AUSTIN: We do many things. There's 20 of us that serve across the nation to really help people to get moving again. Exercise has been put on the wayside. So now we want to try to get kids more involved in exercise. I've got two daughters myself and I keep them active, and it's very important for everyone to realize, get your kids involved in some form of fitness, be active, sports, anything to keep them young, to keep them fit, and also to be healthy, and then instill them a good lifestyle, a healthy lifestyle.
So I go to schools to kind of get kids motivated to exercise, I put on some fun music and I just make a move. And we give speeches across the nation, volunteer our time to really help people realize that it doesn't take that much to exercise. Small steps, and you will see big benefits, little by little.
I tell people even if you start with 10 minutes a day, that is fantastic. And then slowly graduate to 15 minutes and get up there. I personally work out 30 minutes, but I do it most every day. And four days a week I do something cardio, something to get the heart rate up for a good 25 minutes, and that's how you burn fat, and then to tone up the muscle you need to do something strength training. Twice a week you should do something to firm up those muscles to stay young. And if nothing -- if your muscles are firm and toned, nothing can droop or sag, so it's the best way to fight the aging process.
KING: How do you get through the fact that most people don't like to exercise? They find it a chore.
AUSTIN: I know. I know. I mean, there are some days I'd rather just sit on the couch and eat donuts too. But guess what? I know how much better I feel. That's what I really want to tell people. It doesn't take that much. Go for a 10-minute walk during your lunch breaks. Anything to keep moving. The more muscles you move, the more calories you burn. And did you know that the person who sits there who is always fidgeting, they're burning up to 500 calories more in the course of a day than someone who just sits there like a bump on a log. So the key is to keep moving. The more you stand, the more calories you burn. It's all in the course of a day how many calories can you burn.
KING: So you can even be sitting watching a baseball game and doing an exercise with this? Right? You can do...
AUSTIN: That's right, and it's a great, easy way. You can firm up your arms, Larry, you can firm up your legs. I like to do the toning with the arms back here, firming up the tricep muscle, that's a good one so when you wave goodbye, nothing will jiggle. Then you can firm up your arms just by sitting right here...
KING: I love this.
AUSTIN: ...I can do an upper body workout. Isn't it great?
KING: Well, I'm in good shape but I love this. This'll...
AUSTIN: It's easy and everyone can do it.
KING: I'm in good shape and this'll make me even better.
AUSTIN: I know.
KING: You can always do better.
AUSTIN: Yes, it's all about improving. Yes.
KING: What do you think of low carbs?
AUSTIN: And you're never too old to start.
KING: What do you think of low carbs?
AUSTIN: Well, Larry...
KING: Don't get me started.
AUSTIN: ...fine in moderation. I'm into good balance, eating well. I'm a moderate person and I don't think you should get rid of any type of food group, I think everything in moderation and balance is what's important. But, it's a good thing that people are starting to realize how many calories they're eating in the course of a day because it's all about how many calories you're eating and how many calories are going out, you're expending through exercise. So that's truly the bottom line is you've got to move.
KING: You have two daughters, are they both into this like you?
AUSTIN: Yes, my oldest is 13 now and my youngest is 10 and they are really into sports, they do girls' lacrosse, they play tennis, they swim. So I just keep them active and they love it and we dance to music, we just put on music at the house and exercise. They don't do formulated fitness, I just keep them active in sports and that's the key. KING: What does your husband do?
AUSTIN: My husband, Jeff, is a sports attorney. He played professional tennis most of his life. He's from a family of five tennis players, Tracy Austin, the baby of the family. So we're from a big, active family, so he's still in fantastic shape, he works out almost every single day. So we work out together, I wake up in the morning, we get our workout done, it doesn't take that much to feel good, to have better health. You know, God gave us one body, we have to take care of it so that's why I tell people just get out and start ten minutes here, ten minutes there and you will see the difference, you will reap the benefits. And I'm just a big proponent of eating well, exercise and a positive attitude because all three are so important.
KING: Well, it was great seeing you, Denise. Thanks so much.
AUSTIN: You too, Larry. Love to you. Keep fit!
KING: Denise Austin...
AUSTIN: Say "Hi!" to Shawn and everybody.
KING: OK. The tape is "Powerzone: the Ultimate Metabolism Boosting Workout." And I'm sorry she was so calm and laid back.
When we come back, Richard Hack, author of a terrific biography of J. Edgar Hoover entitled "Puppet Master." Don't go away.
KING: There's a terrific new biography out. It's called "Puppet Master: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover." The author is Richard Hack. He's in Boston. He's the also author of a terrific book on Howard Hughes and biographies on Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch and Ron Perelman and pop star Michael Jackson. The title. Explain it.
RICHARD HACK, AUTHOR, "PUPPET MASTER": Larry, well, "The Puppet Master" is a man who can pull strings, who could keep everyone doing exactly what he wanted. J. Edgar Hoover was a champion at that, long before the information age or computers or Xeroxes or even electric typewriters, this is a man who had all the information. And...
KING: When you began this, Richard, did it begin as an expose? Because in reading this book, and I couldn't put it down, there are a lot of things about Hoover, myths, that you throw off. Like he never wore a dress.
HACK: Right. The idea was to try to get the story straight. This is a man if you mention him today people will say, "Well, that's the crossdresser who had parties at the Plaza Hotel dressed as a woman named Mary," when in reality, not only is that story not accurate but this is a man who is so complex and so important in our history that it's -- I felt obliged to set the record straight.
KING: Was he bisexual? HACK: No.
KING: He was hetero.
HACK: If anything he was more asexual. This was a man who didn't really have sex, nor was he particularly interested in it. What he did was fight any rumor of homosexuality tooth and nail while he was alive.
KING: And he had relation -- he had a friendship and a romance with Dorothy Lamour, you report.
HACK: Yes, he did, right from the time she was a teenager and a singer. He was particularly attracted to Dorothy Lamour for -- and they remained friends for their entire lives, but, Larry, I must tell you that this is a man who was so dedicated to his career that having a wife was not part of that picture. He felt they would compromise the position, they were kidnapping targets and he just didn't want to put anyone in that position.
KING: How did he get to be so powerful that presidents couldn't fire him?
HACK: Well, this is a man who started as the director of what was then the Bureau of Investigation when he was in his late 20s and he lasted through eight administrations because it isn't an elected position, it is in a position that is nominated by the president and he stayed in his position because he happened to have the information, the goods, on everyone in the country that was in power, not only the president but senators and congressmen and actors and journalists and judges and he had the information and he kept it a secret, and because he kept it a secret they didn't know what information he had. So better to keep him inside the tent, pissing out, as JFK said, or Lyndon B. Johnson, than the outside of the tent pissing in.
KING: And he was a little kind of paranoid, right. He never-you couldn't wear red and he would exile agents he didn't like...
HACK: Right, he was extremely paranoid, he was a sociopath that even in his private moments he would live in a house that was not only shuttered but screened inside every bedroom. He wouldn't cut his toenails if anybody could see. Very secretive man.
KING: When he -- did he ever listen to attorney generals who are technically -- not technically, attorney general is the boss of the FBI director.
HACK: He would listen to them when they did what he said. The way Hoover operated, he decided what he wanted to do and then he got the attorney general to agree with him and authorize it. So he would listen to them when they were agreeing with him. When they didn't agree with them he'd put a little bit of pressure and remind them who had the information that might benefit or hurt them the most.
KING: He would also let innocent people be convicted so that informers, who were not innocent of crimes, could keep informing for the Bureau, right?
HACK: Yes, exactly. It was one of the more outrageous things I discovered when I was writing this book that a man who had been in power for so long became so desperate to keep that power that he would go to any lengths, actually, to get information, and one of the ways he got it on organized crime was to hire Mafia members and pay them for their information, even if they were murderers. And he'd keep them on the street murdering in order to get that information flow coming.
KING: He bugged Dr. Martin Luther King, right?
HACK: Repeatedly. He bugged him both legally and illegally and was extremely jealous of Dr. King, as a matter of fact.
KING: Jealous of what?
HACK: Well, King was a very dynamic leader, he certainly had a lot of admirers and he also was a womanizer, he had a private life that was not exactly above reproach and Hoover did not. He did not have any private life. He was jealous of the fact that someone could be so admired, win the Nobel Prize, and still play. Hoover didn't get a chance to play, he was the ultimate patriot who was all business all the time.
KING: And Robert Kennedy signed off on some of those taps, right?
HACK: He signed off on all the taps. They came under the Kennedy administration, yes.
HACK: Well, because the original impetus was there was a communist supporter that was advising Dr. Martin Luther King and -- from a financial basis. He wasn't an active communist but he had been a former member of the Communist Party. And with that bit of information, J. Edgar Hoover twisted the facts so that he wondered if indeed Dr. King could possibly be a communist or be under the influence of communism and that was what was the driving factor for Hoover all the time.
KING: Could anyone like Hoover -- could there be anyone like Hoover now? Could someone be that powerful now? Or do we have too much information available to too many people?
HACK: Well, right, the thing that made Hoover's position possible is the fact that it was before the age of computers, before anyone could get access to anything. He had a filing system that no one understood except him. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that he indexed through these number systems, and believe me, Larry, I read all these pages and I have no clue how it operates, because they're not chronological, they're not numerical, they certainly not alphabetical and they contained a lot of scandalous information. So today people -- with a computer, people have access, and I don't believe it would be possible. Thank goodness. KING: He also has been called, and I had it once suggested to me by the police chief of LA, he thought that Hoover was more PR than substance. True or false?
HACK: He was a great deal of PR, yes, but he was PR at a time that the Bureau needed PR. Remember, this is a man who took over when the Bureau of Investigation before it was the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was totally corrupt. They made no secret of the fact that they were on the take. When Hoover came into power he brought in with him integrity at the time and he also re-organized the entire country as far as fingerprinting, criminal records, keeping track of who was in which prison. Up until Hoover's time, none of that was actually centralized or on a national basis. So we have him to thank for all of that. We also have him, of course, to thank for a lot of illegal activities, including a lot of break-ins and wiretapping that when he decided to stop it under the Nixon administration, Nixon created his own team of White House plumbers that of course got him into a little trouble with Watergate.
KING: His legacy then is mixed?
HACK: It's a very mixed legacy, but I must say, having looked into every corner of this man's life, he came out more positive than negative. The end of his life was not particularly positive, but for the first 40 years of his tenure he was a pretty honest and dedicated individual. I think we could use more like him, actually.
KING: And severely anti-communist.
HACK: Severely -- and anti-fascist and anti-homosexual, anti- Jew, anti-black. He was anti a lot of things, but the fact was he always gave everyone the opportunity to answer for their transgressions and demanded the same of himself.
KING: Thanks, Richard. I recommend this book to everybody. It's a terrific biography.
HACK: Thank you, Larry. Nice to see you again.
KING: Richard Hack. The book is "Puppet Master: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover." You will not put it down.
Old friend Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor is next. He's got a book out, a pretty controversial title, "Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America." He gives you the reason, will talk with us, right after this.
KING: It's a great pleasure to now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Working with the Kerry campaign. He is a university professor at Brandeis and a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Author of the new book, "Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America." Why? ROBERT REICH, FORMER SECRETARY OF LABOR: Larry, liberals will win partly because we have reason on our side, partly because Americans -- although most Americans don't describe themselves as liberals, you know the term "liberal" has got such a beating over the last 20 years-still, if you actually look at the issues, everything from abortion to issues such as: "Is a tax break for the rich better than funding the public schools?" or "Do we want to be in Iraq without our major allies?" On all of these issues, Americans are overwhelmingly liberal, again, even though they don't call themselves liberals. And finally, George W. Bush, one thing that he has accomplished is energizing and mobilizing liberals and progressives and Democrats like no president has done so in years.
KING: Isn't "right-wing" as bad a word as "liberal?" If I label not someone conservative but a "right-winger."
REICH: Yes. I think "right-winger" is pejorative. "Liberal" is pejorative. "Conservative," interestingly, is not pejorative. That is, liberals have not called conservatives "borrow-and-spend conservatives" or "battle-scarred and stubborn conservatives" or "cold-blooded conservatives." You don't hear those kinds of terms but you certainly have heard "bleeding heart liberal," "wishy-washy liberal," "tax-and-spend liberal." In a war of slogans, the conservatives certainly have won.
KING: If the public agrees more with liberal issues, what does it take, then, to get them to vote more for liberals? Getting the message?
REICH: Well, I think partly the problem has been that the Democratic Party, relative to the Republican Party, over the last 10- 15 years has not been nearly as organized. Republicans have turned themselves into a movement, combining the evangelical Christian right and big corporations. They are very well-financed. They are very well-disciplined. They are organized very, very well between elections and Democrats tend to be a very big tent. We get organized around presidential elections, not too organized between elections. There are a lot of single-issue Democrats who are concerned about the war in Iraq or the environment or abortion rights but they don't tend to come together around the large questions of who's going to occupy the White House, who's going to control Congress.
KING: Do you consider the man you served, Bill Clinton, a liberal?
REICH: I think yes. Bill Clinton was a liberal and is a liberal. Again, if you define liberal as I do, as somebody who stands up for average, working people against concentrated economic power, who is worried about the separation of church and state and wants to maintain that separation of church and state and also is in favor of international law, working with our allies instead of pre-emptive, unilateral military actions, then certainly Bill Clinton is a liberal and John Kerry is a liberal and many, many people are liberals.
KING: You say liberals will win the battle, even though we look at the red and blue states, there are more red states. REICH: Well, there are more red states but actually, again, if you look at the polls, more people, on the actual issues agree with liberals and liberal positions. Also, many of those states, let's face it, Al Gore did win the popular vote in 2000 and many of the states that George W. Bush won, he won by very, very small margins. If you look right now-and I agree that it's five months before the election, Larry, it's very difficult to predict these things, but right now George W. Bush's popularity is plummeting as people worry about not only what's happening in Iraq, that seems to be out of control, but also worry about the economy, the deficits, the fact that even though jobs are coming back, they're not very good jobs and not very secure jobs. John Kerry is gaining enormous strength and I think he will continue to do so.
KING: You dedicate the book to the late Senator Paul and his wife Sheila Wellstone. Were they classic examples of liberal heroes?
REICH: They were certainly my liberal heroes. They were very good friends of mine, as you know. They died in a tragic plane accident in the election of 2002. Paul was in a tight election contest in Minnesota for re-election to the Senate. He stood for what he believed, he believed for what he stood for, he had the gumption and the courage of his convictions and if there's one message that I want to get across in this book is that conservatives, radical conservatives, certainly have shown that they have the courage of their convictions. Democrats, liberals, progressives, we have got to have the courage of our convictions as well. We've got to be tough, we've got to stand up to the bullies. I sometimes, Larry, go on the television and radio with some right-wing characters. It's very important to argue our positions forcefully and effectively. We don't have to be character assassins, we don't have to issue screeds, we don't have to be bad-mouthing other people, but we do have to use logic and reason and persuasion and show why our positions really make more sense for America.
KING: This is not a Bush-bashing book?
REICH: No, it's not a Bush-bashing book. In fact, I make it very clear that I think that George W. Bush and that administration is more the result of the radical conservative movement than the cause of it and I believe that George W. Bush and John Ashcroft and Don Rumsfeld, and others, they are trying to do a good job as they see their principles and as they see the world, but their world is divided between good and evil, black and white. There are no shades of gray. There are no subtleties or nuances and, as a result, I fear we are making huge mistakes abroad and also at home.
KING: Miss government. Do you miss it?
REICH: I personally -- well, I'll tell you, it was a very, very tough job. It was the best job I've ever had, being Secretary of Labor, but I was seeing nothing of my family, at that time I had too very young boys who needed their father home. I told Bill Clinton I would do it four years and I loved doing it but it was the best family I ever had, as well, and I'm glad that I went home and saw them through their teenage years. KING: Would you serve again?
REICH: Oh I would, yes. They're grown up. I think anybody who has an opportunity to serve this country, this wonderful country, and to work hard for the sake of ordinary American people ought to jump at the chance, and I certainly would.
KING: Thanks, Robert. Great seeing you.
REICH: Thanks very much, Larry. Good to see you, too.
KING: Robert Reich, the new book is "Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America." I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: Have a great rest of the weekend. Stay tuned for more news around the clock on your most trusted name in news, CNN. Good night.
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