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Interview with John Edwards; Guess Panel of ABC "Primetime Live" Anchors

Aired September 22, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Diane Sawyer and her co-anchors on the new "Primetime Live." Their take on the CBS News scandal, on Diane's interviews with Jennifer Lopez and Scott Peterson and more. With Diane Sawyer, Cynthia McFaden, Chris Cuomo and John Quinones. One of TV's top investigative news teams. We'll take your calls too.
But first, Democratic vice-presidential candidate, John Edwards on the race for the White House, and reports linking the Kerry campaign to the CBS scandal. John Edwards is next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Senator Edwards will be with us in the first segment. So, let's get right it to, John. Nice for you to join us. And appreciate you joining us.


KING: Your counterpart, Mr. Cheney, has said today, the choice the American people will make on November 2 is whether we continue with tough and aggressive and effective policies of this administration, or revert back to the pre-9/11 mindset by electing someone whose views on these issues are marked by indecision, confusion and contradictions. What's your reaction?

EDWARDS: My reaction is Dick Cheney as in so many things, is dead wrong. The problem, of course, is that John Kerry and I will be aggressive, we will make certain that the American people are safe. We will go after these terrorists before they can get at us.

But this mess that we have in Iraq, George Bush created this mess and he can't fix it. Our men and women in uniform have been extraordinary there. But George Bush promised us that he had plan. Not true. Promised us this the war would pay for itself. Not true. Promised us we had the troops to secure the country. Not True.

I think the truth is, Larry, the only 2 people left in this country who think no mistakes have been made there are George Bush and Dick Cheney. And if we're going to fix this mess, we need a new president.

KING: If Iraq is the central issue, why are you trailing in the polls?

EDWARDS: Well, first of all, polls go back and forth. We popped up some in the Democratic convention, they're popped up a little now. We've been moving back over the last week or so. The bottom line is, the election is close. It's going to be close. We knew that all along.

When people focus on what's happened, though, over the last 4 years, and this is the reason we're seeing character assassination against John Kerry, is that they cannot defend this record, it's impossible. Five million Americans have lost healthcare, 4 million fallen into poverty, 1.5 million private sector jobs lost. Folks' income has gone down, while the cost of everything has gone up.

We see what's happening on the ground in Iraq, Iran and North Korea have moved forward with their nuclear weapons program. There's absolutely no way to defend what's happening. Everybody knows they're worse off than four years ago and resorted, unfortunately to these attacks.

We have a plan to make this better. I don't think we can turn it around overnight. But it's a serious plan. It's a plan we will begin to put in place as soon as John Kerry is put into the White House.

KING: Kerry and Edwards have said that they will talk more with other nations, get them involved more in Iraq. But if these nations are morally opposed, politically opposed, why should they join you in getting involved in Iraq, if they won't join Bush?

EDWARDS: Well, they won't join Bush for such an obvious reason, because he completely dismissed them before invading Iraq. He made no serious effort. This was an academic thing for him. You know, the idea of having a coalition was entirely academic.

He knew that he was going into Iraq largely alone. 90 percent of casualties have been American casualties, 90 percent of the cost is being born by American taxpayers. What George Bush didn't understand, and can't do anything about as a result is, that it matters to our success, it matters to how safe our troops are that other countries are involved.

It's really not all that complicated.

KING: Will they change their opinion for you. I'm sorry, go ahead. But the question was, will they change, because you're vice president? .

EDWARDS: I believe they will change when John Kerry is our president, because he will make a serious effort to get them involved. He will get them involved, not just in the reconstruction and providing security there, but to make sure they're involved in every bit of the process.

But if I could go back just a minute, Larry, I want people to know that this discussion about bringing others in to Iraq is not an academic thing. For our troops to be safer, for us to relieve some of the burden on our troops, it's necessary for the Iraqis to no longer see this as an American occupation, that's one of the reasons we're seeing so much hostility there. That's the reason we're seeing the kidnappings, the beheadings. That's the reason so many of our troops are dying. It's the reason parts of the country are under the control of the insurgents.

George Bush had no plan for this insurgency. That becomes increasing lie clear every day. We lost more troops in August than we did in July, more in July than we did in June. And then the president says yesterday that everything is going well. Well, it's just not the truth. Of course it's not going well.

But we need these other countries involved in order to be successful. And the reason I believe it can be done is because a new president with a fresh start, who actually seriously brings others to the process, and involved in all parts of what's happening in Iraq, I believe can get it done.

KING: So you're saying that President Bush did not seriously bring them in.

EDWARDS: No. He obviously didn't seriously bring them in. It's the reason we're carrying all the cost and all the casualties.

KING: A couple of other things I want to cover and we hope to have you on quite a bit before this election. How are you approaching the debate? Are you rehearsing debate tactics?

EDWARDS: First of all, you know, the vice president -- I've never had a one-on-one debate. The vice president has been in a number of these one-on-one debates. A lot of folks believe that he won his debate with Senator Lieberman in 2000, you know. He's been in the Washington bureaucracy for 30 to 40 years except for the time that he was running Halliburton. And the truth is I expect him to be a very effective debater.

But what he can't change are the facts. My job is to make sure that people know what's happened over the last four years, all the damage that's been done here at home and abroad, that they understand it's not an accident, it's a direct result of the choices and the priorities of Dick Cheney and George Bush and to lay out our plans for doing better. There are dramatic contrasts not only between John Kerry and George Bush, Larry, but there are huge contrasts between Dick Cheney and myself and I think that will be clear.

KING: Can you tell us at all about any involvement, if any, between the Democratic party and CBS and the recent Rather problems and the taking of that situation, apparently, one of the producers contacting one of your key aides?

EDWARDS: I know that our campaign had nothing to do with these problems. And I know CBS is in the process of sorting that out. I do believe, and I want to say this, I do believe that the issue of what happened with George Bush, his National Guard service, his disappearance or at least alleged disappearance for some period of time in Alabama, those are serious questions and legitimate questions. They ought to be asked. The White House ought to respond to them. KING: But you're saying that you or the party had no involvement with CBS in any of these revelations about forged manuscripts and the like. You were not involved?

EDWARDS: That's correct. That's correct. That's absolutely correct.

KING: And the charge that you haven't been forceful enough, that you've been a nice guy in this, letting the others take the bow and arrow to you?

EDWARDS: Well, anyone who's been listening to what I've been saying for the last month would have absolutely no question about that. I take very personally what George Bush has done to my country. I take personally, Larry, what he's done to the kind of people I grew up with in that small town in North Carolina, the kind of people who worked in the mill with my father, the kind of people that I went to Friday night football games with. I think he has made life almost impossible for them. He has crushed the American Dream in the period of four short years.

And what I've been doing, just so folks know, is I've been actually campaigning in the parts of America that George Bush has done so much damage to, the places that he's messed up the worst. And there are a lot of them.

So that's a lot of territory to cover. But I believe that it is my responsibility to make sure that when voters go into that voting booth on November 2, they know everything that's happened, everything that's gone wrong, why George Bush and Dick Cheney are responsible, and what we're going to do to make it better.

KING: And I understand Senator Kerry has a bit of a cold and you're going to substitute for him tomorrow in Iowa, is that correct?

EDWARDS: That's correct. John's been out there fighting his heart out. I've been out there fighting my heart out. He's lost his voice for a day or so, so I'm going to go to Iowa and do his events tomorrow. We're in this foxhole fighting for our country together and we're going to keep fighting.

KING: Thanks, Senator. Always good to see you. See you on the trail.

EDWARDS: Thanks, Larry. Glad to be with you.

KING: Senator John Edwards, the 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate, a member of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.

The cast of "Primetime Live" on ABC is next. Don't go away.


EDWARDS: For the the American people, are we ready to hear from the next President of the United States, John Kerry. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The 2004/2005 edition of ABC News "Primetime Live" is underway. And we welcome its co-anchors. All in New York, Diane Sawyer who also co-anchors "Good Morning America," Cynthia McFadden, who is ABC News' senior legal correspondent, Chris Cuomo and John Quinones. They're all part of this "Primetime Live" team. Diane, why four co-anchors?

DIANE SAWYER, CO-ANCHOR, ABC NEWS "PRIMETIME LIVE": Well, because we -- we want to be the most aggressive, the most energetic, the most investigative team that you ever had and these are really annoying young people, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I've got to say. And I'm so thrilled to have them as co-anchors. Each one of them. I mean, John Quinones has been places where people just don't go. And what he has done to get the story will amaze you. And Chris Cuomo is a fearless investigator. Cynthia, you know, star of "Law and Justice," great interviewer.

So our job, as we see it, is to be the team that is really kind of champions of getting things done these days and we want this team to signal to everybody out there, if you have the story, we're standing ready to do it. And I'm so great to have them on my side with me.

KING: Cynthia, is the purpose every week to muck rack, to break a story?

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, CO-ANCHOR, ABC NEWS "PRIMETIME LIVE": We hope so. We hope that we're going to be telling viewers things that they're not going to be hearing anywhere else. We want to go back to the roots of "Primetime" when Diane originally went on the air with it with Sam Donaldson, which was "Primetime Live" was the most investigation-oriented show on television. We hope to go back to those original roots and be live in addition. We need Sam for that announcement.

SAWYER: Which means that I'm going to need the eyedrop concession but I will be there live.

KING: Chris Cuomo, what do you see as your role in this?

CHRIS CUOMO, CO-ANCHOR, ABC NEWS "PRIMETIME LIVE": To do the best job I can. I think everybody's role is similar. I think that we'll go after things investigative, we'll do profiles, we'll do the job as best we can. I think versatility is the key on this team, everybody's ability to go out and either tell a story that's this straight "once upon a time," tell somebody's life story or also really dig your heels in and take positions that may not be popular, that may get you in trouble but you feel are important enough for people to know about that you take the risk and you go out there and get it.

SAWYER: I have to point out, Larry, that Chris is one of to the few people I know who can take all those letters coming in from Donald Trump last week and still go ahead and do what he was going to do on Donald Trump. KING: Was he -- was Mr. -- was he mad? I understand you saw him tonight.

CUOMO: I did see him tonight. He came here to celebrate Barbara Walters and that was very good of him. I know that they are close friends. He was less friendly to me and to one of the producers that worked on the story and I respect and appreciate that as well.

He's a man who holds very close to his self-perception. We were happy to do the profile. I wouldn't call that piece necessarily investigative. He's somebody who is out there in the public eye, one of the biggest television shows going and he makes certain statements about himself. And we wanted to vet it. That's what "Primetime" does. If people want to say things we're around to check it.

KING: John, do you enjoy getting it?

JOHN QUINONES, CO-ANCHOR, ABC NEWS "PRIMETIME LIVE": I want to shed light on it. I cut my teeth here at "Primetime" when I first came on board with stories about kids who live in the sewers of Colombia, stories about children who cut sugarcane in Haiti against their will, being held as slaves, stories about blood diamonds more recently in the Sierra Leone. I just want to expose what is often injustice.

SAWYER: And you know, Larry, one of my favorites moments, I've said this to John, is one of his investigative pieces, this is the piece in which you're about to undergo surgery unnecessarily.

QUINONES: A couple months ago, yes.

SAWYER: He volunteers. He's there on the operating room table. But they're speaking Spanish. And they have no idea, they're talking to John Quinones. He understands every word.

QUINONES: They started denying they could speak English.

KING: Wait a minute. What kind of surgery did you undergo?

QUINONES: Well, it was about to be -- it was called sweaty palms surgery and I have sweaty palms like broadcast news. It was a story about how people at clinics in south California are asking people to volunteer for surgery if they've got insurance.

KING: I hear the commercials. They run radio commercials?

QUINONES: Right. Exactly. And they pay people to go get the surgery. So I posed as someone in a park just willing to make some money to get the surgery done. And indeed, they hired me. I mean, I had a baseball cap and a hat. I should worry, I guess, that I wasn't recognized. But I wasn't and I spoke Spanish to these guys. Sure enough they take me into the clinic. And not only that, the doctor agreed do this.

And I was in the emergency room -- I'm sorry -- in the operating room about to undergo the surgery when I finally said, listen, I'm a reporter and I want to talk to the doctors about to do this for cash. They wanted insurance money. They would not stop at anything.

KING: Diane Sawyer, could what happened to CBS this week happen to "Primetime Live."

SAWYER: You know, I think that every single one of us faces humbly the fact every day and knows that you can never say never. Now do we think that we check and we doublecheck and we triple check? Yes. But so does CBS, too. And I think everybody in this business has reexamined what they're doing and has really said to themself (ph), is there something we haven't thought of that we should be thinking of because we really do try to do it.

Can I say something, Larry? Because I started at CBS News. And one of the first people I met there was Dan Rather. Dan Rather came up to me and said, I didn't think you should be hired. I fought your being hired and I wanted you to hear it from me before you heard it from anybody else. Because I had worked in the Nixon administration. He didn't think you should go back and forth politically. And I sort of agreed with his principle. I was a little bit stunned but so honored that he would tell me to my face and he became the person who would always call me and say, have you checked the facts?

Have you got the full story? He is a towering journalist. We all know this. We live and die by headlines, all of us here. But let us never forget he's the guy who gets up out of the anchor chair and goes to Afghanistan, he's the guy who could have the cushy assignment but he goes to the hurricane. He is an honest to goodness reporter. If anybody is hard on themselves, it is him first. And he is a giant in this business and I know he operates without fear and favor. I just...

KING: We'll take a break and be right back. Talk to Diane a little about the Scott Peterson matter and then take calls for the entire panel who are making "Primetime Live", ABC's "Primetime Live," and it is live, hum. We'll be right back. Don't go away.


SAWYER: What would it take to convince you he didn't have weapons of mass destruction?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saddam Hussein was a threat. And the fact that he is gone means America is a safer country.

SAWYER: And if he doesn't have weapons of mass destruction, some day...

BUSH: Diane, you can keep asking the question, I'm telling you I made the right decision for America, because Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction, invaded Kuwait. But the fact that he is not there is -- means America is a more secure country.



SAWYER: Did you murder your wife?

SCOTT PETERSON, ON TRIAL FOR MURDER: No, no, I did not. And I had absolutely nothing to do with her disappearance. You use the word "murder" and right now, everyone's looking for a body. And that is the hardest thing, because I did not -- that it's not a possible resolution for us. And you use the word "murder," yes, that is a possibility, it's not one we're ready to accept, and it creeps into my mind late at night and early in the morning. And during the day, all we can think about is the right resolution is to find her well.


KING: Diane Sawyer, that's part of the trial. How do you feel about that?

SAWYER: Well, I'm not out there covering it so I have no sense of the context. Cynthia actually knows more of the context it's been introduced out there. But I know at the time, that doing the interview, and some of the answers that were given were really surprising to me, so I'm just curious. You can tell us better than anybody, what context they're doing it in the courtroom and what it's showing or not showing.

MCFADDEN: It had an enormous impact, Larry, the day it was shown to the jurors. One of the jurors cried. I mean, the same effect this had to a riveting television audience, you can imagine in this courtroom, while there have been audience tapes introduced of Scott Peterson's voice, this is perhaps the first and only time they're going to hear him talk about what he's standing trial for, I mean, the murder of his wife. Whether or not he takes the stand is a long decision far away. But this was really riveting, those in the courtroom said a real turning point day. So, I don't know whether that should make you happy or not but...

KING: I want to play another thing that was key for the prosecution. I want Diane to comment. Here's where Scott inaccurately tells Diane he had told police about his affair with Amber Frey immediately after Laci vanished, watch.


SAWYER: When did you tell the police?

PETERSON: I told the police immediately.


PETERSON: That was the first night we were together, I spent with the police.

SAWYER: You told them about her?

PETERSON: Yes, from December 24th on. KING: What do you make of this guy?

What do you make of this whole case, Diane?

SAWYER: He did contact me later and said he had misspoken, but I did probe at the time to say, are you really saying you told her then and of course about Amber Frey. And the whole other issue at the time was he had -- had he told Laci. At that point -- this was the first time I had ever heard -- when I talked to him in that interview, that was the first I had ever heard he had actually told his wife. And he said -- I believe he used the words where he said that she was fine with it, that she wasn't extremely happy with it, but she was fine with it. And I remember just asking several times someone eight months pregnant learns this and she's fine with it.

So, again, I don't want to comment on anything to do with my interview, because they're hearing it in the courtroom right now. But I do remember being startled when he said some of these things and trying to probe to make sure that they were what he meant to say.

KING: Cynthia, is "Primetime Live" going to deal with this?

MCFADDEN: With the Peterson case?

KING: Yes.

MCFADDEN: Yes, I mean, we have in an ongoing way and will continue to cover any major legal story. I mean, these are things that are interesting to viewers. We can do -- and you do it often, Larry. We hope we can do it in different kinds of ways. But yes, this is important something people care about.

KING: You just did a story about teachers who have sex with their students?

MCFADDEN: I did. It's not a very happy subject, but Congress just released a report that said one in 10 kids, K through 12, we believe at this point, the is a Congressional report, it had some sort of inappropriate contact with teachers. I mean, that's a shocking number. And we felt it was important to tell viewers as much as we could about the subject.

KING: Chris. I want to get Chris and John's thoughts on the CBS matter.

Chris, does this give you pause, does this cause you to triple check now?

CUOMO: I think you always do. You heard what Diane said before. And David Weston put out an E-mail today to everybody at ABC News, which I really think captured the idea, the significance you should take away from this, which is that, if nothing else, it's situation that makes us all painfully aware how careful we have to be. This is a business based on trust where what you say and what you do not say is often measured not by the people listening, but by your competition and your critics who are often the same in the media business. I think that's message to take away from it. I'd be surprised if the people at the big networks weren't looking at CBS and pointing fingers more than they were pointing fingers at themselves and say going, I hope to God this doesn't happen to me. I hope that I check everything meticulously and everything winds up being on the up and up. That that's best you can do. Certainly to take away from this situation shouldn't be to point the finger at CBS, but merely to understand your own responsibility in reporting information.

KING: In a tough rival driven business, John, there is no joy at ABC over what happened at CBS?

QUINONES: Of course not, no. Could it happen here? I shudder to think it might. We have an elaborate vetting system at ABC where every single script that we deliver is gone over with a fine tooth comb. And we often complain about the lawyers and the vetting process, because it often delays...

SAWYER: We don't make it easy.

QUINONES: We fight and we complain about what they cut and what they won't allow us to say because it's not backed up. It reminds us of how vigilant we have to continue to be, Larry.

SAWYER: And we also have, Larry, we have Shelley Ross as our executive producer, and she's such a seasoned experienced investigative reporter herself and...

KING: Are you, Diane at her -- supposing she comes to you, a hypothetic, and says here you're going to interview this guy tonight, we've checked this out, it's fact, what he's going to tell you is a fact.

What's your responsibility in that?

SAWYER: When Shelley says it's fact I take it seriously. So, she knows what she is doing. She really is good.

KING: So, you're dependent upon the producer's word?

SAWYER: Well, no. My job is to say how do we know it's fact?

And that's what we do. We know it's a collaborative business. We're all -- we're working with people who are good and whom we've worked with enough to know that they are good. We test and prone. But -- but again, what is fail-safe?

Fail-safe at the end of the day is asking as many questions as you can, as often as you can, and even then we -- even then we know sometimes things happen. And I really think it's really important for all of us to see what we can learn from this.

MCFADDEN: Part of it, Larry, is to do it as rapidly as you can, but not too fast. I mean, that balance is always -- I mean, we're like the horses trying to get out of the stables, and you know, sometimes that process has to go more slowly than we would like because of the lawyers.

KING: Where does the buck stop?

Does the buck stop with the host?

Where does it stop?

CUOMO: Where do you think it stops, Larry? you face the same questions.

KING: You know, we were talking about -- the host -- it depends on the individual case. If the host is at the mercy of the producer, it's the producer's fault. If you're told something that this person is reliable, what can you do but ask the best questions you can? You have to have faith in someone.

CUOMO: But that's a tricky question, because you know, you want to have your face out there in front of the camera, you want to be the name, ultimately, then you have to take the blame. I think very often you see situations where somebody who has been doing the work gets turned on. And people then say, you should have answered for this. That's not fair either. I think that's why, if for no other reason, this is an interesting situation we're going through with CBS because it makes people consider the bigger questions, how do you vet it. And I think that what's important to look at is the process. You may not get the right answer. You may be duped. Somebody may tell you something that's convincing but it winds up being wrong. But how you go through it, how you analyze it is just as important as the answer.

KING: Well put. We'll take a break and come back. We'll go to your phone calls. Diane, I know, has a comment. And we'll be back with Diane Sawyer, Cynthia McFadden, Chris Cuomo and John Quinones on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Regis will be here tomorrow. Don't go away.


MCFADDEN: If she did have a relationship with a 14-year-old student, is that a crime? Should she go to prison?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a tough question to answer.

MCFADDEN: Is it a crime? Is it a crime?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe it's a crime. Now whether or not someone deserves to serve jail time, that's a question I'll let someone else answer but I truly believe it is a crime.




QUINONES (voice-over): The surgical staff checks my blood pressure. Now, I'm minutes away from major surgery surrounded by a medical team, about to face a scalpel for a condition I don't have. After a few final preparations, I head into the O.R. At the very last minute, just before I'm injected with anesthesia, I back out of the surgery and leave the clinic.


KING: These people are a little nuts. Diane Sawyer, Cynthia McFadden, Chris Cuomo and John Quinones, four of the best journalists in the business. They collaborate now ABC's "Crimetime Live." The new edition of which debuted this week.

We're going to go to your phone calls. I want to get some quick opinions. Diane, your thoughts on reality TV, now there's a story even there's going to be a Martha Stewart kind of reality show.

SAWYER: I heard that, I heard that today.

I have been the one saying all along we're going to get tired of it. And you know that they're at the bottom of the barrel when they're doing reality shows about reality shows which they're doing for a while. I'm not sure I'm not wrong. I'm not sure that it's not an endlessly inventive place to be. I do think over time, I do think that we hope what we're doing, what is real and what is comprehensive and what is not edited for that kind of, you know, "Survivor" kind of drama, that what we do is going to distinguish itself more and more so that people know that we are the real reality TV here.

KING: Cynthia, thin line, Cynthia, between reporting and tabloid?

MCFADDEN: No, I think it's a bright line. I think it's bright line, Larry. I think many stories can be reported in the tabloid press and also reported by mainstream media. It's a question of how you do it. Scott Peterson can be a tabloid case or it can be one of the most important object lessons in the country. I think it's all in how you do it.

SAWYER: Did I ever tell you my favorite story, somebody said to me once that you take a story of a guy who's really estranged from everybody, and he has a weird group of friends and he's been at college, or he's college age, and you write it one way, it's Hamlet, and the other way, it's "Gilligan's Island." We know there's a difference.

KING: Chris, do you pick your own assignment? How does it work?

CUOMO: As often as I can. We're blessed at "Primetime Live." We have a great staff of people who are always looking for the big question, for the story that people need to hear about. But I think it's fair to say that stories come all ways. More and more we're encouraged by people coming to us and saying, I want you to tell my story. I want -- you know, Quinones, McFadden, or Sawyer to look into my situation. But I think that one of the things that may distinguish this crew from others is that you've got a bunch of curious people and you've got a bunch of people who are looking for the fight maybe more so than on other shows. And I think there's a lot of stories generated from us because of that and often fought over.

Six-two, 220 pounds of bad intentions is how we like to put it.

QUINONES: I can take him.

KING: John, in other words, you want people to contact you if they think -- you want to hear from people?

QUINONES: All the time, Larry. Some of the best stories I've had come at me through e-mails or phone calls. Absolutely. In fact, we talk about how aggressive this team is. We often fight among ourselves over stories. If Chris has something that I really want to do, Shelley Ross will hear about it. And we'll often hear complaints -- Cynthia wants to do the story that I'm working on for tomorrow night.

MCFADDEN: I had it first. I had it first.

QUINONES: That kind of competition is great.

KING: Diane, you can't go out, can you, because you have "Good Morning America?" You can't go out on stories. You can?


KING: You take time away from the "Morning?"

SAWYER: Yes. I just did a huge investigation on V.A. Hospitals. And the fact that so many veterans in V.A. Hospitals have to go through doctor after doctor and the kinds of things that can happen from that and also the relationship between residents making your diagnosis and specialists making your diagnosis.

KING: When will that air?

SAWYER: It was on, Larry.

KING: It was on? I didn't -- so you can take away from -- they allow that. You can take away from "Good Morning America."

SAWYER: Oh, yes.

KING: Not only they allow it, they can't stop me. Because investigative report is as you know where I started is my stock and trade. I still want to do it. We all want to help people and we all want to be champions and we all want to change things.

KING: Do you really feel, Diane, since obviously you're the best known, that this is a collaborative four-part effort, really?

SAWYER: I really feel this is a collaborative four-part effort. If you think these guys -- if you think there's any deferential behavior here, forgot it. No. We've worked together before. These are -- these are -- John and I have been together for years and years on "Primetime" and Cynthia has been there, too. And Chris has been doing it five years? CUOMO: Five long years.

SAWYER: Five long years...

QUINONES: Larry, we should point out, she's been incredibly generous also. You hear about anchor monsters who don't want to share the spotlight. She doesn't have to do this and she's done it. And I think we are considered equals.

SAWYER: No, you can't have my story. It was a nice try. You can't have my stories.

KING: East Peoria, Illinois. We include phone calls for the gang of ABC's "Primetime Live." Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Diane, my question is about your interview with the Dixie Chicks in regard to their anti-Bush remarks. Did you get any negative feedback on that because I thought you were overly aggressive with them because I thought they were just simply stating their political opinion. Thank you.

SAWYER: It's interesting that you point that out. I got opinion on all sides, boy, did I get it from every single side of a very polarized issue. I felt that they had to answer their toughest critics and wanted to answer their toughest critics. And that it was really important for me to challenge them and make sure they had a chance to say everything they wanted to say in that circumstance because it was so inflamed and so polarized. I thought the interesting thing is, I think their album went back to number one right after that interview.

KING: Tampa, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. My question for Diane Sawyer and the panel is what advice would they have for parents and teachers whose young people have seen such graphic images such as the beheadings and also the prison abuse scandal.

And one thing, could you please investigate about no seatbelts on seat buses?

KING: That's a good point. Cynthia, you want to take that.

MCFADDEN: That's my story. No seatbelts on school buses is an important story. Listen, I have a 6-year-old, and what can you do?

You don't want your kids to see it. It's a hard to avoid, though. The culture makes it hard to avoid. And there are some stories you have to sit down and try to explain. I don't know. I guess, I wouldn't encourage my kids to watch the news until they're a certain age.

KING: But Chris, the beheadings aren't shown, are they?

They're discussed but not shown. CUOMO: There's certainly a matter of policy at the particular news organization, people have stayed away from it. I think that, something that you would also want to respond to that question is that, the parents should weigh in. The parents should let their voices be known to the network. Say what they like. Say what they don't like. Say what they want covered. Say what don't want covered. It is naive to think that type of response doesn't get heard. Don't assume that you're going to let the networks dictate to you what you want to be told. Be active in it. It will do more than you think. Response to a network will do more than you think.

KING: John, you want to comment?

QUINONES: We often get tons and tons of E-mails and letters and people listen. And they get to the...

SAWYER: I was going to ask the two of you, you've got a younger child, but do you let your son...

QUINONES: Absolutely not. We have a 13-year-old son and 10- year-old daughter, and we monitor very carefully what they can and cannot see. But on the Internet much of this is available, which is...

MCFADDEN: You don't want to program the news division for 6- year-old and 12-year-olds. You know, there are certain ones stories that need to be told that maybe aren't the most pleasant.

QUINONES: I know, but beheadings.

MCFADDEN: I'm not suggesting we put beheadings on television, and we haven't. But it's out there. And I think the callers question is as much about how do you talk to your kids about what's the news and what they come home with.

KING: Wasn't a beheading put on the Internet somewhere.

CUOMO: That happens all the time, but it's almost impossible to regulate. It's one of the most interesting part of the communications law is what you can do on the Internet and what you can't. It's a very developing body of understanding. It's interesting in some ways. It's unfortunate in some ways.

KING: We'll take a break and we'll be back with more of your phone calls. As I go to break, the piece I didn't see. I'm sorry. Diane Sawyer on the...

SAWYER: I'm going to make you pay. It's going to be a long summer for you.

KING: Diane Sawyer on the V.A. hospitals. Watch.


SAWYER: During our year long investigation this time, we found many people inside the V.A. system who were committed to providing excellent care for the veterans. But there were also problems, shocking misdiagnosis, questions about continuity of care. And allegations some doctors don't even show up for the surgeries they're supposed to supervise.

We heard an instance of the resident had to get the textbook out and read it during the surgery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that would be horrific.




MARLA MAPLES: He never was just a real estate genius. He was always a star. I mean, he billed himself as the first entrepreneur, real estate star, and that whole part of how works his business and manipulates in the world that way and keeps himself in front of the world.

CUOMO: He's part of the product, you're saying?

MAPLES: He's part of the product and will make no bones about creating that image in order to bring the value up in his product, bring the value up in everything that he touches.


KING: Marla Maples talking to Chris Cuomo on "Primetime Live," about Donald Trump.

Lets take another call. Middletown, Connecticut. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. Even though the documents about George Bush's national guard weren't authenticated, the contents reverified as true. So, shouldn't the real issue be, how did Bush get to promoted to second lieutenant after serving only two months in the guard, and why would he deliberately miss his physical knowing it would cost him his pilot status.

KING: And Senator Edwards said tonight that is still an issue.

Cynthia, you want to take that?


KING: OK. Fair enough.

MCFADDEN: Listen...

KING: Hey, it ain't a court. You don't have to answer.

MCFADDEN: I think the point is that, you know, and I think this is really why some of our callers at CBS hung on to the story, I mean, there are many people who still believe the underlying issue was true, that the documents may not have been true, but the issue they were trying to cover was true. So, I'm sure there will be more. One hopes there will be more, that people won't back off this story because the documents weren't true. If sure if there's more to look at, I'm sure we'll be looking.

CUOMO: You know what the woman also touches on, is notion that the media has gone crazy over the intrigue at CBS, and yet not parsed the underlying information as actively. And you know, you hear that all the time. We have the ABC News now, up now, and you know, I sit with Sam Donaldson everyday, very often Sam will ask why, Isn't the media going after the real questions behind these allegation. And very often you don't hear it.

SAWYER: No. Sam, says, why isn't the media going after...

CUOMO: He says Cuomo, you stink! Here's my next point.

KING: Medford, Oregon, hello.

CALLER: Yes. Hi, Larry. I want to thank you for being -- pardon me for saying, fair and balanced. But that leads to my next question. Does the panel feel there's been a switch too the right as far as networks and what not and news coverage, and maybe that's because the secretiveness of this administration, and that they're feared they won't get access to the administration since they're so tight with the news media. And...

KING: John, you want to comment. Are news networks and others moving right ward?

QUINONES: You get that watching some broadcasts. But I don't think we're so tight on government to dictate what stories we may or may not cover -- Diane.

SAWYER: I remember somebody made a study once and they really tried to examine bias, whatever bias was. They came out and concluded by and large, the media has a bias against power. And that by and large, the media, if you look at it over a year-to-year-to-year-to- year, it's taking on people in power. However -- and however some of the slightly more, how should we put it, some of the slightly more right of center organizations are very much in the news right now. There is still a huge spectrum of people out there, a huge spectrum of voices, and we can really just speak for ourselves. That we really wake up in the morning and say, what -- first of all, never assume, which is the thing we always try to say, and where do we go to do the best story that we can do, and it doesn't matter.

I think people forget, forget, forget, administration after administration, after administration, how people from all sides are taking on all kinds of people in power. And I hope that's always true. I worked in the White House and I hope it is always true that we are there for the people who don't have the ability to go in and make that phone call themselves and get through.

KING: Well said. We'll be back with our remaining moments with the cast of ABC's "Primetime Live" right after this.


SAWYER: How many people tried to talk you out of doing this film?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, man, everybody.

SAWYER (voice-over): He laughs at his pal, jack Nicholson.

MEL GIBSON, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: Jack was wearing this lime green, sort of, stripy shirt was little more than there used to be. And he's choking down an ice-cream cone. I went up to him, hey, Jack, how you doing? He said, how you doing, kid?

Good, good.

And he says, how's Jesus treating you?




SAWYER: A big year in your life.

JENNIFER LOPEZ, ACTRESS: Big year or two, yes.

SAWYER: So how are you different now than you were back in September a year ago?

LOPEZ: Let's see. I'm happier now, I guess in a lot of ways. A lot of different ways.

SAWYER: Were you surprised that you found something that made you happy?

LOPEZ: Yes. Yes. And there's always a part of you that doesn't believe everything, once you've been through a lot.


KING: Diane, what part do celebrities play in primetime live?

SAWYER: You know, I'm endlessly curious about a lot of different people, celebrity, non-celebrity. And I love interviews in which we get to explore unusual things with them. And tomorrow night, we have -- it's just a holiday for me. You have these smart people. You have Susan Sarandon, and Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez, who's talking for the first time about her marriage, because of the new movie.

We sit there as if we had coffee and all day to talk about love, marriage, fidelity, what is fidelity, what is infidelity, what about children, how do you keep a marriage regenerated the whole time? How do you keep it constantly alive? And that's what we get a chance to do. And so I think, sometimes you can give people a great conversation that is a real conversation with a celebrity, it's a wonderful thing.

KING: That was the week that was. You bringing it back, Cynthia, the old great show of weeks ago, is it going to be part of "Primetime Live?"

MCFADDEN: Well, Larry, Shelly Ross, our executive producer is a very determined woman. She had this notion, she watched it as a kid growing up in Philadelphia, and remembered it from 20 years ago, and wanted to give it a try. And we're giving it a try.

And I think, last week's show was an interesting first effort. Listen, if we can make satire work on television, political satire is hard to do. And I think if we can make it work, it gives people a reason to stay tuned throughout the end of the broadcast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And sends people away with a smile.

MCFADDEN: Maybe a thought even. I mean, last week, there were many parodies last week. And some of them were actually pretty both funny and profound I think. I think it's an interesting experiment. We'll see if it works. And listen, local stations will be happy if it does, it keeps it there for their local news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They will certainly have the tune in their head, that's for sure.

KING: Chris, did you think of politics before journalism?

CUOMO: No. No. It's the other Cuomo son. I think that, maybe in part, because I recognized the amount of conviction that Andrew had for it. He early on, had suggested I go into this. I practiced law before I got into journalism.

But I think that when you come from a political family, certainly with the example of the mother and father that I have had, it makes you think deeply about how to best serve. And I also I think growing up and watching what my father had to go through and now what my brother is going through, it made me evaluate what I wanted to put myself and my family through in order to help people.

Frankly, I don't have a level of conviction that my brother does or my father had, to go out there and take the beating that they're willing to take in order to serve. I believe you can do the same kind of thing here without the same level of kind of vulnerability.

KING: Just about out of time.

SAWYER: I want to say very quickly before we leave you last time, I took up a collection, when I asked for a Kleenex because you gave me toilet paper that you had around here. You now have these swank offices, you have this fabulous high-tech, and yet the promo of me was from like 1915, as I recall. You went to my worst hair period. I just wanted to say, that from now on, I'm going to be -- I'm going to be using this picture of you every time I talk about you. Are you ready?

That is the picture we're going to use of Larry King forever more on our broadcast. Wake up in the promo department.

KING: Thank you all. I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow night, Regis Philbin.

Aaron Brown will host "NEWSNIGHT." He's got a major show coming on Iraq. One tip, Aaron, get your flu shot. I got mine today. Be protected. And for all the audience too. Get your flu shot.


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