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Interview With John, Elizabeth Edwards; Interview With Jimmy Carter; Interview With Andy Rooney

Aired December 9, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Senator John and Elizabeth Edwards, with a special update on her courageous battle with Cancer.

And then Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States.

And Andy Rooney of "60 Minutes," love him or hate him, he's got an opinion on everything, and we'll cover it live.

All next on LARRY KING LIVE:


KING: Good evening, welcome to another edition of Larry King Live.

Later former president, Jimmy Carter, and CBS's Andy Rooney.

We begin tonight in Washington with Senator John Edwards, the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, Senator from North Carolina, who did not run for reelection. And his wife Elizabeth, who is under treatment for cancer.

She had her third treatment when, today?


KING: Now what -- what -- tell us, before we get into all this and bring in John, what did the treatment consist of?

What happens when you get chemotherapy?

E. EDWARDS: Basically you get an IV. I have a very pleasant nurse, Mercedes, I see every time. And I get a series of medications from IV, anti-nausea medication and then the chemotherapy for the cancer. The whole process started with my appointment in the morning takes me four hours or four and a half hours over two weeks, and I'll do that for a total of sixteen weeks, as I do it -- so it will be eight -- eight treatments. Then I'll wait and have surgery and then I'll wait a little bit again and have radiation.

In between I have to tell you that I am doing additional testing. I have -- am doing MRIs periodically so they can watch the progress and they can determine whether they are getting additional information by doing these MRI's intermittently, it's part of a clinical trial. And really urging people to do clinical trials because all of these advances that we've had now that you can do chemotherapy two weeks rather than three weeks is a result of chemical trials. I understand yesterday there was a new drug that was announced, that's the result of chemical trials.


E. EDWARDS: Clinical trials, not chemical, clinical trials. And so the idea of making certain that when you're able to you participate in these things. I'm the beneficiary of the ones we've had so far.

KING: And the surgery happens how soon after the end of the therapy?

E. EDWARDS: Three or four weeks. Two or three weeks. It'll be some time in the beginning of March.

KING: And that consists of what?

E. EDWARDS: We hope a lumpectomy where they just go in, take out what remains of the tumor. We've had good success so far in reducing the size of the tumor or the lesion. And they'll take it out and take out the tissue around it, and get clean margins and hopefully remove all the cancerous cells.

KING: Senator, how have you reacted to all of this?

J. EDWARDS: Well, it's been exactly what you'd expect. It's been an up and down ride. I mean, Elizabeth has just made it so much easier, Larry, because she's just been so strong. And she hasn't been the entire time that I've known her and the entire time we've been married. And she's been more focused on the kids and on me and on her friends. You feel like instead of people supporting her it's going the other way around.

And one example is we found out, as you know, the day after the election and the following morning we got back -- we were back in Washington and she said, "I think we should go public with this." And I said, "Well, you know, it would be OK to have a little privacy for some time. Especially about something that's so private." But her view about it was if we could cause one woman to go to the doctor who otherwise may not go, certainly if we could save one woman's life then it would certainly be worth it and so she, as usual, she was doing the right thing.

KING: Now, Elizabeth, when you were on this program on November 1st the night before the election, you knew you had a lump but it hadn't been -- you hadn't got test results, right?

E. EDWARDS: I had been to the radiologist and had the mammogram and the ultrasound and she had a pretty grim expression on her face when she came in and read that ultrasound. So I was pretty confident about what the results of the needle biopsy that I was going to have the following day was going to be.

KING: How do they tell you something like that?

E. EDWARDS: Her face pretty much told me. She came in and said, her words were "This does not look good." And either the size or the shape and so she was obviously concerned and said that I needed to go immediately and start -- see a doctor about it. We did talk to a doctor who said that the day's delay that I had between that ultrasound and the beginning of treatment were not going to make a difference. So if it had made a difference I would have said something before the election. I thought it was probably not the right thing to throw that out during the election. It would have been, I think, it would have distracted people from issues and perhaps people would have thought it was some sort of a scheme or something -- I couldn't have done that.

KING: They would have. Senator, how did she tell you?

J. EDWARDS: She told me that -- I was on the phone, I was actually on the campaign plane, it has just landed, and I was on the phone with her and she said she had just been to the doctor, that she had this lump. That they were very suspicious about it and she was, as she always is, she's very matter-of-fact. It's like she was telling me what we were going to have for dinner and she said, "This is all going to be OK. You should talk directly to the doctor," which I did and he was very blunt.

This is a doctor that's a close personal friend of ours and we've known for a long time. And he told me very directly that the great likelihood is this is breast cancer.

KING: All right. How did that effect your campaigning?

J. EDWARDS: Well, it didn't have any direct effect, but of course it became in my head, 24 hours a day during the time between Friday before the election, Friday afternoon when I found out and through Election Day. So it was always there and as a result, I had already talked to Elizabeth, six, eight times a day over the telephone when we're not campaigning together. And then it became instead of six or eight, 12, 14, 15 times a day so that I knew she was OK.

KING: Rudy Giuliani told me the other day that once someone tells you, Elizabeth, that you have cancer, your life is completely different. Nothing is the same.

Is that true?

E. EDWARDS: I don't think so. I think that it's really important to keep -- what I've tried to do, we have a lot of things to take care of. We have our children to take care of. Thankfully we have Christmas coming up and a lot to get done. Just couldn't do much shopping while you're campaigning, so doing a lot now trying to get ready for that. Decorated one tree in D.C. when our older daughter was home for Thanksgiving so that we'd all get to it together. We'll decorate another one when we get back down to North Carolina.

KING: I mean, didn't it temper somewhat what the election result would be. Didn't that overshadow it? E. EDWARDS: No, not for me at all.

KING: Did not.

E. EDWARDS: No. On this trail we met so many people with so many stories that they told us about what was happening in their lives including a number of people who had breast cancer. A woman who had breast cancer who didn't have the wonderful support of a husband that I have. I mean, he's been -- I had one blood test so far without him. That's all. He's been there every single minute for me, and didn't have insurance. And I'm thinking about me with all the support that I have.

I have good insurance in place, I have a wonderful family and friends who have been enormously supportive and this election was more important than my breast cancer. I completely believe that.

KING: Were there other treatment options offered to you?

E. EDWARDS: We got the advice of three different doctors in three different locations both -- all in wonderful institutions who are -- and everyone one of them had exactly the same protocol that they recommended. So I feel really confident with the protocol that I am on.

KING: Senator, has there been any thoughts, and this happens in any case when the male hears the news from the mate, aesthetically how will Elizabeth look?

How will she respond?

Do you have those feelings?



J. EDWARDS: Honest to goodness, Larry, the only thing I have thought about is making sure that we have 40 more years together. And Elizabeth and I have been married 27 years. We are physically connected to each other. And we've been through a lot with our children and with our family and our lives. And our lives are completely intertwined. And all that I have thought about is making sure we get her well and that she is there for me and for my kids.

KING: Did you have those concerns, Elizabeth?

E. EDWARDS: No. My biggest concern really has been the loss of hair, which the kids thought was pretty amusing. But right now I have lost not all of my hair but a lot of it. And I think I actually, without this wonderful wig, I think I look sick. And I don't want my children who don't think of me as sick because I'm not -- now that they have anti-nausea medicine, I'm not vomiting or anything and because I am able to do most of the things that I was able to do. Get a little more tired, but otherwise -- I don't want to look sick to them. So that for me is my big concern. Not for John, who has seen me with him...

J. EDWARDS: I have to tell you she looks just as beautiful now as she did before this to us, to all of us who know her and love her.

KING: We will right back with more of Senator John Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards.

And then President Carter and Andy Rooney, don't go away.


KING: We're back with Senator John Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards. How have the children taken this, Elizabeth?

E. EDWARDS: They've been pretty good about it. Whenever there is something about breast cancer on television, they'll come run and tell me. They don't really have an idea what it is. Jack's godmother bought him a little book, bought them a little book about breast cancer, but it doesn't mean that much to them. They know I'm a little more tired and they know that I sleep in a sleep cap, which I didn't used to do. But aside from that ...

J. EDWARDS: Not Cate, though, Elizabeth, Cate.

E. EDWARDS: The younger ones have been pretty easy with it. Now Cate, who is 22, understands how serious it is and was with us, actually, when we went and got the needle biopsy in Boston and we kept her informed along the way but she's got enormous strength and I think when she initially heard it was pretty much of a shock but she has really pulled through and has been really helpful.

She did Thanksgiving dinner. She's taken care of a lot of things that for 22 you might not expect.

J. EDWARDS: Have you heard from the Bushes?

E. EDWARDS: We have. I got a nice note from the president and a nice note from Laura as well and a nice note from Lynne Cheney and one from Karl Rove as well. I've gotten nice notes from both sides of the aisle. People have been enormously supportive and not just, of course, those people, but people across the country who emailed me about my condition and actually that's one of the ways I found out that letting people know about this has in fact encouraged people.

A woman who found a lump and went to the doctor and is now in chemotherapy now because she was encouraged to do it after hearing that I had discovered one.

KING: What about Senator Kerry, John?

J. EDWARDS: Oh yes, well, first of all, Senator Kerry, we called John within literally an hour, I think, of finding out and he could not have been better. It shows what kind of a human being he is. He said immediately, "You do everything you need to do. You don't worry about this campaign, we love you, we're there for you, whatever you need," and it is exactly how he's been. He's called Elizabeth I don't know how many times now just to ask ...

E. EDWARDS: Yeah, every day during the campaign.

J. EDWARDS: Just to ask how she's doing. He's known about it every step of the way.

KING: OK. Do you ever feel -- both of you, Elizabeth, we'll start with you. Do you ever feel, you lost a son, now you get this -- do you ever feel like, bad breaks ...

E. EDWARDS: Like Job?

KING: Like there's a cloud hanging over you?

E. EDWARDS: No. No. I don't actually. Bad things happen to good people as ...

J. EDWARDS: Rabbi ...

E. EDWARDS: Mr. Kutchner (ph) said. Right. And the truth is that people deal with a lot harder things than we are dealing with right now and what we're dealing with right now it's second but it's just a distant second from having lost Wade that it's hard to even think about it in the same breath and you deal with what you have to deal with. That's what I found out in my whole life. I found out again in this campaign. People have heartache all the time and they just find a way to work through whatever they need to do.

KING: Senator?

J. EDWARDS: If you think about it, what Elizabeth just said is absolutely right but it's also true that we've got a military brat and somebody who grew up in a little town in rural North Carolina who, look at what we've been able to do in our lives. We've had four wonderful children, we've had great experiences in our lives both in our work before I came to the Senate, my work in the Senate, which both of us worked on together, this campaign, I mean, I was able to run for president and then vice president of the United States, all of which we did together as a family.

How could you ask for anything more? So everybody has to face obstacles. There are millions of people across this country and a lot of folks who are watching this broadcast have faced obstacles much harder than what we've faced and look at what we've been given so we've been blessed. That's the truth.

KING: What are you going to do now, Senator? You're leaving the Senate. Assuming everything goes well with Elizabeth, what are your immediate plans?

J. EDWARDS: Well, first, as you say, we're going to get her well. That's the first thing. Second, we are going to go to work, both of us, when we get her well, on the things that we care about and that means healthcare, it means poverty, which I talked about a lot in the campaign. It means keeping this country safe, national security issues, foreign policy. And we have to figure out the best way to do that but we want to continue to fight for the causes that we care about.

KING: Are you going to practice law?

J. EDWARDS: No. I don't think so. My heart's now in public service and so is Elizabeth's and I think that's where we'll stay.

KING: Are you going to run for office again?

J. EDWARDS: I don't know. That's a decision we'll have to make down the road and we have other priorities right now.

KING: Would you like him to, Elizabeth?

E. EDWARDS: I think that he is a unique and powerful voice and I think that it's a voice we need on the national stage. I am glad that he is going to continue to be involved, continue the conversation he's been having with America over the past four years and I hope we will be having that in the future.

KING: So if he ran for president again you -- he would have your full support.

E. EDWARDS: Whatever he chooses to do, he's going to have my full support.

KING: Is your party in big trouble, Senator?

J. EDWARDS: Oh, no, no. First of all, you should never overreact. Although this was an enormously important election as Elizabeth just said a few minutes ago. It was a close election. 100,000 plus votes in Ohio and John Kerry would be sworn in as president of the United States in January. It was a close election in 2000. But I think, looking forward, there are things that both of us care about personally that I think are also important for the party. We believe, because it's the way we grew up, Elizabeth and I both, we -- our faith is enormously important to us. Our family is obviously enormously important to us. Both of us have worked hard all our lives and believe we have a responsibility to look out for those people around us including contributing to our community and our country and I think those are values that the American people embrace and they are things that we need to be expressing, both on a personal level and I think as hopefully one of the voices for our party.

KING: Elizabeth, do you feel the worst?

E. EDWARDS: No, I mean we talked a lot about being optimists and the truth of the matter is that really is who we are. I have tremendous confidence in my doctors. I have -- and also I just have a belief that I am going to beat this. Every indication is that all the news I've gotten really has been good news so I feel pretty confident. I'm making those plans for the next 40 years.

KING: Is your treatment in North Carolina or Washington or Massachusetts?

E. EDWARDS: It's in Washington and Massachusetts and oversight in New York. So I am all over but when we move to North Carolina in June we are going to move to rural Orange County next to a farm with cows and to a setting where we would really love to raise the children. I will be seen there for the follow-up, my follow-up -- post-radiation follow-up.

KING: Where will the surgery be?

E. EDWARDS: I think the surgery is going to be in Boston.

KING: What's after the surgery?

E. EDWARDS: We take a little break to recover from the surgery. They want you fully recovered. And then you do radiation five days a week for six weeks.

KING: And you sleep a lot?

E. EDWARDS: Maybe I'll get a chance to catch up on that sleep from the campaign.

J. EDWARDS: Yeah. The amazing thing I have to say, Larry. I'm with Elizabeth all the time and you know the country has just seen her a couple times since this happened, since this diagnosis occurred. I know that she never complains about this. I mean it is an amazing thing to watch that she is more concerned, as I said earlier, about others than she is about herself and for example, she said it earlier, what she says to me is "Millions of women across this country have gone through exactly what I am going through right now and there is nothing special about what I am going through. And we need to get the Christmas shopping done. We need to make sure the kids are taken care of. We need to get ready for the New Year. I mean, she is, as usual, focused on her family and everybody else.

E. EDWARDS: But if I could make a plug for John, you know, we've reached out to women before to make certain that they got the tests, the mammograms, that I failed to get, but also to husbands and to -- the support that people have.

One of the reasons it is easy for me not to complain is I have such fantastic support, really before I want something he is there getting me whatever I might have thought I'd need in the next 10 minutes.

Other spouses, husband and families, need to be as supportive as he's been.

KING: And John, finally, do you get your PSAs for prostate?

J. EDWARDS: No. I haven't. And as a matter of fact ...

KING: You're kidding.

J. EDWARDS: No, but I am going in a couple of days to do a really thorough physical, so that will be done as part of my physical, I'll tell you that.

KING: Than you both very much. Good luck and happy holidays.

J. EDWARDS: Thank you, Larry.

E. EDWARDS: Thanks for having us.

KING: Senator John Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards. Two terrific people, no matter what your politics.

Former President Jimmy Carter is next. Don't go away.


KING: It's always a pleasure and an honor to welcome Jimmy Carter to these cameras. The 39th president of the United States, the Nobel Prize laureate, and the best selling author, his 19th book. We go back to interviewing him from the first. It's just been published, "Sharing Good Times." There you see its cover, by Simon and Schuster. It's a wonderful holiday gift, by the way, because it's a series of reminiscences, I guess, right?

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it is, you know, a lot of us are kind of driven, you know, in our campaigns for president and governor and to be a successful businessman and to be a submarine officer. But all the way through our lives, I think one of the most important things we can do is stop every now and then and have a good time. Just enjoy life, have fun.

KING: Tell me how to do that.

CARTER: Well, the book tells about 25 or 30 different ways that I and my family have found to do it. And the sharing part, sharing good times, is no matter what we do, it's always more fun if you share that experience with somebody you really care about. Sometimes a wife, sometimes children, grandchildren.

KING: Was this a conscious decision on your part throughout the years? Did you say, we're going to take time off?

CARTER: I would say in the last 30, 35 years, out of 58 married life, it's been a conscious thing to do. And we plan every year -- for instance, we have about 23 members of our family now. So the week after Christmas, we go to some remarkable place in the world, all together. Rose and I save our money the whole year and save our frequent flyer miles, so we pay all the expenses. So this makes it attractive for our high school and college students to leave their friends and join the whole family.

KING: When you're not solving problem.

CARTER: When I'm not solving problems, yeah. We just got back from Mozambique this week, as a matter of fact, holding elections.

KING: You write so well. It appears that you really enjoy writing. Some people, it's a chore.

CARTER: No, I really do enjoy it. And I get up early in the morning. And I read my e-mail, mostly from my children and grandchildren if I can. And then read the newspapers on the Internet, and then I start writing where I'm writing a book. And I work until sometimes 10:00, 10:30 in the morning without stopping. I write very rapidly, and then I go out in my wood shop and build a piece of furniture. Or lately, I've been painting pictures. I've taken up oils and acrylics, so now I'm trying to become a good artist as well. Or I go out to my farm or do something with Rosalynn.

KING: And to write something like this, you have to have a good memory.

CARTER: Well, you do. Of course, I have pretty good records of everything that's happened to me since I went to the governor's office. Because they recorded, and particularly everything you do when you're president, every word you say in public is actually printed up and distributed at the end of every week. So I've got records of all the trips I've taken.

KING: You should be very proud, "Sharing Good Times." You're going to write another fiction book?

CARTER: Yeah, I'm thinking about it. I'm preparing to write a sequel to the last one that I wrote.

KING: That was terrific.

CARTER: Well, thank you.

KING: "Sharing Good Times" is published by Simon and Schuster. I want to give you a few issues before you leave us. You don't know Andy Rooney?

CARTER: Well, I see him on television.

KING: But you hadn't met him?


KING: Two great world figures...

CARTER: But I'm going to meet him tonight.



KING: The election disappoint you?

CARTER: I'm sorry? The election? Oh, yes, desperately disappointing. You know, I'm a Democrat and I was hoping that we could get a Democrat back in the White House.

KING: What do you think of red states, blue states?

CARTER: Well, I really believe that the country is probably as deeply divided now as it was at any time, maybe since the Civil War. You know, there's a sharp division. And this has been kind of a new thing in my life as a public official. When I was president, we had a very harmonious relationship on Capitol Hill, even, between Democrats and Republicans. There was not any sharp division there. And when I ran against Gerald Ford first and then ran later against Governor Reagan, the only way we ever referred to each other was "my distinguished opponent." And there was no negative advertising then. I would never have dreamed of sponsoring or permitting anyone to sponsor a television commercial that would tear down the reputation of Gerald Ford or Ronald Reagan. And they wouldn't do the same.

Now, the whole thing has changed. I think that's created a negative attitude in our country.

KING: We'll be right back with President Jimmy Carter, the Nobel Prize peace -- Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The author of "Sharing Good Times." Then Andy Rooney. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with President Carter. His newest book is "Sharing Good Times." It includes childhood memories, working and playing with black kids in segregated rural Georgia, the teens, the color line. Remarkable travels with Rosalyn, including mountain climbing in Mt. Everest, even teaches you how to be a passionate bird watcher. An extraordinary renaissance man is Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States.

A couple other things. When you look at the world, the death of Arafat, Iraq, are you pessimistic?

CARTER: I have some better hope now in the Mideast than I've had the last 3 years. I think that if the Palestinians can have a successful election in January, that will be a good step forward. The last election they had was in January of '96, and I in the Carter Center were the only monitors observers at that election. And we are contemplating observing this next election next month. If things work out well. I haven't decided for sure.

But if they can choose a leader, who can have the trust of his own people and not look like an American or Israeli puppet, and if that leader has the strength to command authoritatively that the Palestinians stop their attacks on Israelis, I think there's a good chance to move forward. So, I feel kind of hopeful about that.

KING: Does Sharon appear more progressive to you?


KING: No? Still hardline?

CARTER: I haven't seen any flexibility on his part concerning the West Bank. I think Sharon has been willing to continue building all the settlements he possibly could in the West Bank, but then symbolically withdraw some from Gaza in order to leave the other settlements impervious. But I think that in order to have a peaceful agreement, where the entire Arab world would recognize Israel's right to live and live in peace, the West Bank settlements have got to be addressed.

KING: You got Sadat and Began together. Clinton almost had Arafat taking that deal. Why do you think he didn't take it?

CARTER: It was not a proposal Arafat could have accepted and lived. Because it left...

KING: He'd have been assassinated?

CARTER: Oh, yes, because no Palestinians could have accepted the proposition that was made to him by Barack and Clinton. It left, intact, just a complete coverage of the West Bank with individual settlements. And with connecting roads between every two settlements. And also, it claimed, as a premise, that the East Jerusalem area was part of Israel and that Israel was granting the Palestinians permission to come on their territory. And things of that kind.

So it was not a proposal that could be accepted in its entirety. It was an inflexible proposal.

Well, Arafat made a serious mistake in rejecting it outright instead of continuing to negotiate on that premise. And later, distinguished Israelis and Palestinians negotiated built on that Camp David proposal that was rejected. The Carter Center was involved to some degree in it.

And this was a proposal that was put forward as a Geneva premise. And that was done November of last year. And I think that outlines that the final settlement that can be done between Israeli and the Palestinians. And I think it's feasible to have that adopted if and when there's flexibility on both sides.

KING: Would you go to Iraq to observe if asked?

CARTER: No. Well, if asked. But it would be inconceivable to me that the Bush administration would ask me to do anything like that. But we will be going, probably, to the Palestinian area to help them with the election.

KING: Is Iraq soluble?

CARTER: Well I hope so. I think the ultimate solubility, no matter how many years it might be off, is for the entire world to feel that they have an involvement in Iraq mostly with the Iraqi people in the lead on politics, on military, and also on economics, including oil and not just the United States dominating the whole thing.

And I believe that ultimately, it's going to require the U.S. foregoing any permanent military bases in Iraq. And those concessions have not yet been made in Washington.

KING: What keeps you going, Mr. President?

CARTER: Well, the life that I've had since I left the White House has been the best time of my life. The Carter Center has programs in 65 nations in the world. As I say, I just returned from Mozambique a few days ago. That was our 53rd election that we've held, have to hold -- monitored around the world. And most of our programs are in Africa. The most destitute and suffering people on Earth. So, what we do is gratifying, because it's greatly appreciated. But at the same time, it's challenging and adventurous and exciting and unpredictable.

KING: And you never think of retiring?

CARTER: I've already retired. I was retired involuntarily from the White House. And so I had to take up a post retirement life. And now that's lasted 25 years. I hope it lasts a few more years.

KING: What's the next book about?

CARTER: Well, I haven't decided yet. As I say, instead of writing right this minute, I'm learning how to be a better artist. So I'm practicing my art. I have a couple of books ready on my computer already started.

KING: What do you like about painting?

CARTER: Just the innovation of it, the challenge of it. The assessing the great masters and deciding which kind of style suits me best. I've just done my first self-portrait. Nobody's seen it yet but Rosalyn. And I've done a portrait of Rosalyn, I've done some landscapes.

KING: When might we see these?

CARTER: I don't know. I'm a little timid so far about revealing them. But eventually.

KING: Eisenhower painted, did he not?

CARTER: He painted some I think. I know Churchill did some. I'm not trying to emulate them. But I'm determined to be an acceptable artist.

KING: Always an honor seeing you.

CARTER: It's a pleasure for me, Larry. Thanks very much.

KING: President Jimmy Carter. And again, the book, the new one, is "Sharing Good Times" what a wonderful Christmas gift, and a wonderful read to boot. Andy Rooney is next. Don't go away.


KING: Andy Rooney's had many great moments in a long career. Now he follows a president who is anxious to meet him. Andy Rooney, "60 Minutes" correspondent has been a regular feature on that news magazine since 1978. "New York Times" bestselling author and his newest out in paperback is "Years of Minutes." A collection. There you see the cover. A collection of some of Andy's best moments overall, his best writing. It's a wonderful read. Enjoyed it. You made all the selections in this? You picked them.

ANDY ROONEY, CBS CORRESPONDENT, "60 MINUTES": Yes, I did a lot of work on it.

KING: What was the concept of what was would go in and what...

ROONEY: The ones that weren't any good, I didn't put in. There were some, Larry.

KING: Really?

ROONEY: Yes. Have you ever had a night like that?

KING: Occasionally. How goes life?

ROONEY: When is the Motley Crue coming back?

KING: I knew that would excite you. I said when we showed that, Andy Rooney is guessing who this is. How is everything at the "Minutes" program?

ROONEY: Well, "60 Minutes" itself, we're doing well. We miss Don Hewitt, but things are going and Jeff Fager has taken over. He's very good.

KING: What did you make of the whole Rather leaving?

ROONEY: What did I make of it? I don't know what to make of it. If I knew what to make of it, I probably wouldn't tell you.

KING: Have you talked to Dan?

ROONEY: Dan and I were never -- I was never as close to Dan as I am to Cronkite. I'm friendly with -- perfectly friendly, but we have a cordial relationship. That kind of conversation would never come up between Dan and myself.

KING: No? Who do you think might replace him? They talk about that in great halls of CBS?

ROONEY: They do. Everybody is talking about it, sure. I would be surprised if they know yet. I think if it was going to be John Roberts, I should think they would have said so right away. But I don't know.

KING: Scott Pelley in the loop?

ROONEY: Scott Pelley, certainly.

KING: Do you think they might go outside the network?

ROONEY: I certainly do. I think they'd do anything if they thought it would improve their position. They've got to do something to get the ratings up.

KING: Your thoughts on Brokaw leaving. ROONEY: Brokaw's a good friend of mine. It's -- it was sad. I hated to see him go. I hated to see anybody quit the business so young, Larry.

KING: You think we're -- with Internets and cable, do you think the mainstream, the network is fading as a news outlet?

ROONEY: There's no question it is. I think it's a tragedy for America.

KING: Because?

ROONEY: Because I've said this, but I think that if we're going to have a successful democracy, the public has to be well informed. Most of the American public gets their news from television. And if we're going to have an informed electorate, we have to have good television news. I think it's vital that we have it. I keep waiting for some hero to come in and say, look, I'm going to give them the money. We're going to run this network, we're going to make all our money off programming and we can make plenty of it that way. But the news we're not going to touch. We're going to make it better. We're going to put on an hour of news every night. 20 minutes of news to explain the world to the American public is ridiculous.

KING: But you don't expect it to happen?

ROONEY: I'm hopeful.

KING: The tide will reverse?

ROONEY: I am hopeful. I talked to the president of CBS News the other day, Andrew Hayward. He's hopeful. He thinks there's some prospect that they might -- that they know how important it is and want it to continue or even improve.

KING: Give me the genesis of the Rooney pieces. When do you start thinking about Sunday?

ROONEY: I have people ask me that. I usually do it, tape it Wednesday or Thursday. And, you know, in the middle of the night I think I'm never going to have another idea. And people -- I've said this too, but people think you were struck with an idea you're not struck with ideas. You sit down at your typewriter and damn well decide to have an idea. That's how you get it. That's how I get it. There's some file catalog in your brain and you rifle through it and you see. And I'm -- I can be pretty stupid, but when I'm writing, my brain is sort of sharp and I observe things. I'm an observer. I think most writers and reporters are observers. And if you see enough things during the day, a couple of them will catch your attention and makes a piece.

KING: Do you know it's funny?

ROONEY: I don't set out to be funny. I've always said I think it's a mistake to set out to be funny. I think humor should be incidental to the fact of the matter what you're trying to say. KING: It's such a variety of subject matter from aging to Arab dress to -- you do it year by year. Good things, pockets, talkers, Super Bowls.

ROONEY: They're nothing. I'm telling you, if you put a piece of paper down and wrote something on it, I'll bet you could give me a typewriter out back and in half an hour I could give you a piece.

KING: In other words, I could say clock.

ROONEY: Yes. I mean, I said something about it, I was amused. I amuse myself once in a while. I was looking through a Tiffany catalog. And I thought why in the hell are these watches that don't have numbers on them, just little dots instead of numbers more expensive than the ones with numbers on it?

KING: That's a good way to put it. Now they're not watches anymore. They're timepieces.

ROONEY: Well, they're more expensive.

KING: Do you ever, ever think of hanging it up?

ROONEY: No. I'll die, but I don't think I'll ever hang it up. I don't walk as well as I used to. If I start not thinking as well as I used to, I suppose -- I wait for it to happen. I mean, I inspect myself all the time to see if I'm losing it. I just always feel that I'll probably be the last to know. But I have some good friends who will tell me.

KING: Aging rough?

ROONEY: Aging is very difficult in many ways. Because you lose friends, the whole process of not being as able to get around physically as well as you did. I notice I'm slumping over and I hate to look old. I am old, and that's I look like.

KING: When you look in the mirror, you don't like what you see?

ROONEY: I don't see myself at my worst. I look my best in the mirror. And I comb my hair when I look in the mirror. But when I look the worst -- I see myself at my worst is when I'm walking along the street, like on Madison or Fifth Avenue and I go past a big window and I look over and see myself. Here I am, all huddled over.

KING: Is that Charles Laughton?

ROONEY: It infuriates me how often people want to help me. I could kick them down the road. Jesus, they're always trying to help me.

KING: Hey, old man.

ROONEY: That's it.

KING: We'll be right back with Andy Rooney. In paperback "Years of Minutes." As Liz Smith said, great stuff, some of it irritating too, just as he means it to be. A great collection of quotes on the back, including one that says Andy Rooney is one of the best writers in television -- unfortunately. We'll be right back. Don't go away.


ROONEY: Tonight, I thought I'd help anyone thinking of giving me a present by making a list of things I don't want. These catalogues I got are filled with things I hope no one gives me one of. Here's a new digital camera I don't want from Don't want a new digital camera, because Keith gave me a digital camera last Christmas and I haven't learned how to work that one yet.

Here's a catalog called "Hard to Find Tools." Who wants tools that are hard to find? Hammacher Schlemmer sells what they call a name doormat. The one in the catalog has Smith on it. The idea is you get your own name put on it. It's a bad idea, isn't it? I don't want a door mat with people wiping their feet on my name. Some of the letters I get are bad enough.




ROONEY: Someone sent me this $2 bill to sign. I don't do autographs, so I just kept it. Is that stealing?

"New York" magazine wants me to fill out this form, about 100 questions. Here's one. Have you done any home improvements in the past 12 months? Well, yes, actually, I have. About a month ago, I changed the light bulb in the bathroom.

I like "New York" magazine, but anyone who has the time to fill this out would be too dumb to read it.


KING: Funny, funny man. Andy Rooney. OK, what are you going to do this Sunday? A tip, an advance!

ROONEY: Well, you know, the anchormen are dropping out all over the networks. And so I'm proposing that I be anchorman, and I go through what I'd have to learn how to do to be an anchorman. I did some of it at the anchor desk down at Dan Rather's desk.

KING: Are you ready for this?

ROONEY: I haven't...

KING: Would you be good?

ROONEY: Oh, I'd be terrible.

KING: Because, why? You couldn't read? ROONEY: Oh, I think -- I want to be careful, I got a lot of anchormen friends, but it's a dumb job. I mean, what's reading off a Prompter got to do -- and they all like to get out and make themselves legitimate...

KING: They're true reporters, yeah.

ROONEY: ... by doing something. But for the most part, they just read this stuff. And it's -- it's a terrible job. Except for the money. The money's pretty good. But I can't imagine wanting to be an anchorman.

KING: What did you -- I thought you might do something on the servicemen peppering Secretary Rumsfeld with questions.

ROONEY: Well, it would have been good, but it's hard to make that funny. And I don't want to be too serious about that. I -- there was good news stories tonight on it. You probably didn't see them. But he had a good reaction. You know, everybody is thinking this guy's going to get thrown in the brig, the one who asked the questions, but they were -- even the president was being very nice about it, saying he asked a good question. But it's hard to be funny for me about Rumsfeld.

KING: What do you -- what do you make of red states, blue states, division in America?

ROONEY: You know, that came up -- I -- where did that come from, all of a sudden? It was deep into the election before I knew what it meant. Red states, blue states. I hate it. I don't know why the simplification.

I am much bothered, as I was interested to hear President Carter -- I said, I met him, when I said -- I greeted him as Mr. President. I said, I call you Jimmy behind your back. But hasn't he been a good ex-president?

KING: Oh, the best.

ROONEY: I mean, he's done so much.

KING: Amazing.

ROONEY: What did you ask me?

KING: Red and blue states. With age, you forget things.

ROONEY: I would have forgotten that 40 years ago. I just am much upset as everybody, that we are as divided in this country as we are. I mean, I have never seen such a bitter division between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives. I'm always interested to see the word liberal being used as -- in its pejorative sense. I mean...

KING: When did it become a bad word, by the way?

ROONEY: I don't know. It's not a bad word to me. I'm surprised. But...

KING: What do you make of the divide in the country?

ROONEY: Well, I don't know what to make of it. I do think we have -- this is a touchy ground, but I do think we have a problem with education in this country. Our education, for a country with as much money as we have, is not as good as it ought to be. It is not as good as it is in quite a few European cities -- England, Sweden, Finland, Denmark. A great many. France, I suppose, I'm not sure. But that's a disgrace. That this country doesn't have a better educational system than it does have.

KING: Steroids in sports. Worried about it, or...?

ROONEY: Oh, I don't...

KING: Jon Stewart last night said, all he wants to do is win. He doesn't care what they're taking.

ROONEY: I know. It's terrible. But it's just like television news. I mean, what's ruining it is money. And yet, this country is proud of itself and its free enterprise capitalist system and the drive towards everything, everything eventually turns into how much money it will make. I don't know how we get away from that. I mean, it's really wrong. Isn't there any other goal in life for any of us but to make money? It's easy for me to say, because I am making a lot of money. But still, it's wrong.

KING: And finally, your beloved Giants.

ROONEY: I don't want to talk about it. Larry, you're trying to make me cry.

KING: You love them, don't you?

ROONEY: I like the Giants. You know, I've said this. The good thing about being a fan of a team is it doesn't really make a damn bit of difference if they lose. You know? It's not like some serious issue in your life.

KING: Andy, what a delight.

ROONEY: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Andy Rooney, it's always great to have him. The book is "Years of Minutes." It's in paperback from Public Affairs. A collection of some of his best writings over the many years that he's entertained us on "60 Minutes."

We'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Good show tonight with Senator and Mrs. Edwards and Andy Rooney and President Carter. The Peterson trial could wind up tomorrow. It could have a decision with regard to the penalty phase, and we'll cover that tomorrow night. Right now, it's time to cover the scene. I leave tonight, and the thing I'm going to miss the most about New York is Aaron Brown. I'm not kidding, Aaron. We've bonded well and I'm going to miss you, flying back to L.A. where it's 74 degrees and sunny.

AARON BROWN, HOST, "NEWSNIGHT": Why don't you take me back with me if you're going to miss me so much?

KING: You're welcome to come. Walk out, Aaron.

BROWN: Thank you.

KING: Come on. Do it once. Do a Rather.


BROWN: No. He had more money in the bank than I do, but thank you.

KING: Go get'em.


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