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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Steve Irwin Fans Outraged by Controversial Author; Interview With Kristen Breitweiser
Aired September 8, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERMAINE GREER: As far as I can see quite a few Australians have been embarrassed by Steve Irwin, lots, millions possibly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, outrage as Germaine Greer, one of the world's most controversial authors, lets Steve Irwin have it just days after his tragic death and now the response from some of his closest friends who were there when a stingray took his life.
And then, 9/11 widow Kristen Breitweiser, her first primetime interview since Ann Coulter accused her and some other widows of exploiting their grief.
It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We'll meet some other friends and colleagues in a little while.
But we'll spend the first segment with John Stainton in Brisbane, Australia. John is Steve Irwin's -- was Steve Irwin's manager, producer, and most importantly his best friend. That's another visit with him for this program for which we really thank him. He was with the boat crew when Steve had that deadly encounter.
Before we get into the controversy, how are the children? How is Bindi doing and Robert?
JOHN STAINTON, STEVE IRWIN'S LONGTIME FRIEND: Larry, they're holding up quite well. Terri is very, very strong. She's having a lot of sad moments obviously but she's putting on a bright face for the kids' sake. Both Bob and little Bindi are handling it really, really well thanks to her.
KING: When is the funeral?
STAINTON: Within the next couple of days. We'll -- they're having a private family service in the next two or three days, by Monday, and then we'll start planning a memorial service which will be open to members of the public. KING: Let's get to the controversy at hand. Headline seekers seem to be coming out of the woodwork. Did you see the interview of Germaine Greer? Have you seen that?
STAINTON: I saw a little bit of it. I didn't -- I just caught a clip, like the clip you just used. I've seen that a couple of times. I haven't seen the full interview (INAUDIBLE).
KING: Germaine Greer is, of course, a feminist and been writing best-selling books for years and is a very outspoken person, pretty unbelievable what she had to say. Take a look at this clip from her interview with the Australian TV show "A Current Affair." Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREER: My feeling about Steve was always that he did not treat animals with respect that he seemed to regard animals as something that he could dominate. He would tell you how dangerous they were and then he would proceed to intrude on their space and humiliate them really, treat them with massive insensitivity. And, it's no surprise that he came to grief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What's your reaction, John?
STAINTON: I don't have one. I don't think she deserves it.
KING: Do you think she has -- that she has -- does she have any point at all that he was invading their space?
STAINTON: Larry, I don't think it's -- I really don't think it's worth commenting on her. I think giving her more mileage is a waste of air space. And somebody said yesterday in a press conference she's an oxygen thief and I think that about sums it up.
KING: One writer went on to attack Greer in the Australian newspaper yesterday calling her comments a poisonous discharge of bile, summarizing the views of what the writer calls "a whole class of Australian sophisticates." Are there a lot of people who are saying stuff like this?
STAINTON: You know, people are open to any opinion that they want and that's their business. I don't think she should have come out with what she said there at this time. I think that's just very, very insensitive to the family. If she wants to say it a couple or weeks or a month later she can have whatever time she likes. I don't care. I think it was just an insensitive time to do something like that and it's obviously seeking headlines I think.
KING: Do you think that was the motivation?
STAINTON: What else would you -- why would you do it? Why would you be that nasty you know? He can't be that horrible a person surely.
KING: Let's discuss Steve and the love for animals. He truly loved them did he not?
STAINTON: He did. He did. Larry, there was a time a few years ago in the zoo where one of his crocodiles died, a crocodile Culmari (ph) who we think could have been 120 years old and they found her dead in the pond where she lived in an environmental enclosure.
And, he went into that pond and there was the male crocodile, which was Agro (ph) who lived there with her and he went into the water and he held her for hours crying over her.
And that other croc, the male crocodile could have and should have under normal circumstances come and killed him because that's all the crocodile wanted to do all its life. But it seemed to stay away. It gave him that space and he was amiss.
Another time I've seen him -- a crocodile that had actually got into trouble, not through any reason of his, but he wanted to save the crocodile and he gave it mouth to mouth resuscitation. And I filmed that and he made me get rid of the film. He said, "I don't want anyone to see that." And I'm sorry that I did because that's how genuine a love he had for an animal that he would do that to a crocodile.
KING: Did you ever see him harm an animal?
STAINTON: Never, never, never, never, ever in the whole 15 years that we were so close up with animals all of those -- that time there was not one occasion. In fact, if an animal even looked like it was going to be harmed, he would get angry with the crew. Anyone that came near him or anyone that was around him that actually looked like they might stress the animal.
A lot of the talk show things that we've done around the world used to really upset him because some animals that were supplied by animal supplies for TV talk shows, you know, they'd come in and they might be distressed. And Steve would come to me and said, "John, I can't -- I'm not taking that animal out there. That's stressed. It's been in a cage too long and they've held it too long in the green room."
All of those things he was -- it would upset him and he wouldn't go on the shows. He would say to me, "I'm not doing that show ever again because that show does not respect animals."
KING: Needless to say, Ms. Greer's timing seems inappropriate. Does that surprise you so soon? I mean anybody is open to criticism. That's fair game if you go in the public eye. It comes and it goes with the territory. Were you surprised at the timing?
STAINTON: She must be having another book coming out, has she, or something like that. Maybe there was a reason for doing it. We've been open to criticism all of our career, all of Steve's television life, and we've handled it. There's been low points that we've had together. We've actually -- we got stronger and stronger.
I think when the baby Bob incident happened that was probably the lowest point in Steve's life. And I said to him one day, "Together, Steve, we can be a bulldozer and we're just going to push all this ahead of us and we'll get over it." And he wrote that down and he had it on his wall, on his wall in his office. It said, "Together we're going to be a bulldozer" to overcome it and we did.
KING: And after that incident he came on this program and openly discussed it.
STAINTON: You were the one he wanted to tell that's right. You were the only show that he would consider doing it because your style in your interview he knew would give him the forum to tell a story his way.
KING: We're going to take a break and come back. And when we come back, we'll be joined by Philippe Cousteau and John Wiegel. We'll hear one other clip from the Germaine Greer interview as well.
One thing we want to clear up and it's important to say it. People's problem sometimes with fraudulent websites soliciting donations, this happens after tragedy, it's sad. The correct website to donate to Steve's Wildlife Warriors is only this, wildlifewarriors.org.au, wildlifewarriors.org.au.
Up next we're joined by a lifelong friend of Steve's and another colleague who was on the boat the day of Steve's fatal accident.
As we go to break, the heartbreaking words of the grieving father who is mourning more than just the loss of a son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB IRWIN, STEVE IRWIN'S FATHER: Steve and I weren't like father and son. We never were. We were good mates.
STEVE IRWIN: Hey, good work, dad. It's been a real honor sharing this with you mate.
B. IRWIN: It was great wasn't it?
S. IRWIN: Yes, we're a good team you and me.
B. IRWIN: Perfect.
And there's been many occasions when anything could have gone wrong and Steve knew the risks involved with the type of work he was doing and he wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: John Stainton remains with us.
We're joined now in Brisbane by Philippe Cousteau who was aboard Steve Irwin's vessel and helped try to revive him.
In Sydney is John Wiegel, Director of the Australian Reptile Park. He's known Steve Irwin since they were both teenagers.
And, in Sunshine Coast, Australia, Michael Hornby, Michael is Steve Irwin's close friend, executive director of the Wildlife Warriors, formerly the Steve Irwin Wildlife Conservation.
John, of course, wants to put this all away. We do want to play just one other quote from Germaine Greer and then get the comments of Philippe Cousteau, John Wiegel and Michael Hornby. And let's take a look at perhaps the most provocative part of Ms. Greer's interview with the Australian show "A Current Affair." Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREER: You can feel a sense of loss about any death of a 44- year-old man with two small children. That is a very sad situation. I'm not saying that's not sad. I'm saying what might be over now is this kind of exploitation of animals. I really found the whole Steve Irvin (sic) phenomenon -- Steve Irwin phenomenon embarrassing and I'm not the only person who did or indeed the only Australian who did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Germaine, can you name for me one person who agrees with you?
GREER: There's lots of other people who think the way I do don't you worry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not one person has come out and agreed with you have they?
GREER: Well, yes they have.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Germaine, you're making it up.
GREER: Look, all I'm trying to do here is have people rethink this whole issue. I'm sick and tired of programs that tell me that the world is full of wicked, nasty, powerful, deadly creatures. Why does Australia set itself up to be made into this hell hole? I'm sick and tired of it. It's absolutely unfair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All right, Philippe Cousteau, John we'll come back to you, I know how you feel, Philippe Cousteau what's your reaction to that?
PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, GRANDSON OF JACQUES COUSTEAU: Well, Larry, I think it's -- it's -- obviously as everyone has been saying the timing couldn't be worse in such bad taste. I think if you want to talk about the exploitation and the encroachment upon wildlife we shouldn't be talking about a man who gave his life dedicated to the conservation of these animals.
We should be talking about deforestation and unsustainable fisheries and the things that happen all over the world every day that are really detrimental to the natural world, not to this great man.
KING: John Wiegel, are you shocked? I don't want to put words in your mouth. What's your reaction?
JOHN WIEGEL, DIRECTOR, AUSTRALIAN REPTILE PARK: Oh, Larry, I guess my reaction doesn't really matter but the going theory around the media at least in Australia is that this is a reflection of about six or seven decades of frustration in the love department or something. Something's not right with that woman. We just can't figure it out.
KING: Does she, Michael Hornby, at all even in a slight way make any kind of a point about the use of animals for one's own advantage?
MICHAEL HORNBY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WILDLIFE WARRIORS: Absolutely not. You know, Steve understood animals. He had a wonderful relationship. He knew where the line was and he was very conscious of that. And, you know, it's unfortunate that someone like Germaine Greer gets the oxygen to make these sort of comments. If anything, I'm a little bit embarrassed of being Australian, you know, because she is.
KING: Were you shocked, Michael?
HORNBY: Absolutely. I guess not shocked because I think, you know, she's got a bit of a reputation for trying to shock people to grab attention. So, I think just very sad that she had to come out and very sad that people are giving her the time of day.
KING: John, has the family talked about it at all?
STAINTON: Not at all. No, they know nothing about it.
KING: Oh, they don't know at all?
STAINTON: They do not know at all. Well, they're not -- they're not really taking any interest at the moment in the media or what's been written. They're not watching television. There's no reason for them to do that.
So, and for that reason too you don't want to be confronted by a Germaine Greer comment. I think they're just living in their own world at the moment carrying on as well as they can without referring to newspapers or television.
KING: John Wiegel are things OK at the reptile park?
WIEGEL: Things are good at the reptile park thanks a lot to Steve and Terri and, of course, John Stainton, who really was connected at the hip to Steve. They've really contributed a lot to many, many things in Australia in our society but particularly I'll remember Steve for his contribution to what we're doing up at Sydney.
KING: Philippe, the host kept asking Ms. Greer if she had -- could name anyone who agreed with her and she couldn't. Have you heard anyone?
KING: Anyone of prominence, not prominence, a letter to the editor who agreed with her?
COUSTEAU: I have not heard of anybody that agrees with her. And let me say, Larry, that, you know, the legacy for Steve is the Australian Zoo, is the Wildlife Warriors, it's all the work that he did in front of and behind the camera.
A lot of people don't realize that he dedicated a lot of his own money to making this kind of cutting edge research that we were conducting on this and many other expeditions happen.
And I was with him in his last few weeks. I was with him that morning and I never saw anything but the utmost care and love for all of the animals in everything that he did.
KING: We'll be back with more with John Stainton, Philippe Cousteau, John Wiegel, and Michael Hornby.
And in a little while, Kristen Breitweiser, the 9/11 widow whose husband was killed at the World Trade Center, the author of the new book, "Wakeup Call."
When we come back, how the news of Irwin's death has affected donations to the Wildlife Warriors Foundation.
And, as we go to break, a lighter moment a clip from 2001 talking about Australian slang.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Give it a burl, B-U-R-L.
IRWIN: Oh, yes, give it a burl, give it a go.
KING: Try it?
IRWIN: Yes, try it and crikey that's like -- that's the same as like, wow! Yes, that's the Australian wow.
KING: Oz is Australia?
IRWIN: Yes, Oz is Australia, yes.
KING: Bloke is a man.
IRWIN: Bloke, yes, yes, we're blokes.
KING: What's a woman?
IRWIN: A Sheila.
KING: A Sheila?
IRWIN: Yes, yes, yes, yes.
KING: And g-day (ph).
IRWIN: G-day mate, g-day, g-day, yes g-day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You love them.
IRWIN: Oh, I love crocs with all my heart.
IRWIN: Larry, I don't know.
KING: They kill.
KING: They maim.
KING: They take out pieces of your friend's hide.
IRWIN: Yes, and eat him.
KING: And eat him.
IRWIN: He would have eaten him.
KING: And you like them, no you love them.
IRWIN: I would die defending crocodiles, absolutely. Every chance I get I'll put my life on the line to save crocs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Unbelievable, Steve.
John Wiegel has some really extraordinary news for us. John, what's the story?
STAINTON: John Stainton, Larry.
WIEGEL: John Stainton, yes.
KING: Oh, John, I'm sorry. I thought it was John Wiegel but go ahead, John.
STAINTON: Not, John, it's me. I think it's important to make this known but Steve was hit on that reef by the stingray on Monday this week and overnight obviously I couldn't sleep. It was a very distressful night.
And I thought the only way I can do the right thing by Steve was to ask the crew to go back and finish the documentary, which still had a lot of things that we hadn't done and were to be shot on that reef. So, at five o'clock in the morning when I thought everyone might have still had a bit of sleep I rang everyone on the crew individually and I rang Philippe.
I said, "This is going to be a big ask but -- and I know it's going to be hard but would you all consider going back on that reef, back on the boat, back to that reef and finish the work that we were there nearly, nearly had finished? Could you go back and complete it because then we will have a documentary that will be Steve's last testimony to documentaries on earth.
And to a man they all said yes and, Philippe who had to carry the burden of it as much as anybody without Steve and went back and did it. And those guys went on that boat and for the last three or four days up until yesterday we finished it, they've done a great job and I tell you it would have been very, very painful.
KING: So, you're saying this documentary that Steve was working so hard on is now done?
STAINTON: We've just finished it and eventually this will be seen as his last piece of work. Just the hardship of trying to get back onto the boat so that we could do stuff without news cameras and people spying on us, we had to do such a covert operation to get back out to the reef and shoot the scenes that we needed but these guys pulled it off.
KING: Philippe, how did you get that done? Was there any question in your mind about doing it?
COUSTEAU: Absolutely not. When John called me, I know it was 5:45 in the morning. I looked at my clock. And, he asked me this and he was in tears and I didn't sleep, needless to say, the rest of the morning. But the crew came together and it was very, very difficult to get back on that boat and go out there.
But I know if the situation were reversed I would have wanted the same thing. I knew that Steve would have wanted that and we couldn't do anything but finish the film for him.
And let me tell you though the film is "Ocean's Deadliest" and we're looking at some of the deadliest creatures in the oceans, the conclusion of the film is that man is the deadliest creature in the ocean and that, taking that risk that is how dedicated to conservation and to making people understand the detrimental role that we as humans play in the environment oftentimes.
But the good powerful role too is the message that we can play in conserving these animals. That was his dedication. That was the conclusion of the show. We did it and it's a tribute to him and his life.
KING: Wow. Is the stingray discussed in the film?
COUSTEAU: No, that's a great irony that the stingray was not even one of the creatures in the film. They are not dangerous animals. There's only a few fatalities I think recorded around the world.
I have seen on the cover of diving magazines before so many times divers diving alongside stingrays. It happens all the time. Steve was not doing anything inappropriate. This was a freak accident. And I have been swimming with stingrays many times. It was not one of the animals in the show.
KING: Wow, what a -- what a great story though that you finished it.
Michael Hornby, how is the Wildlife Warriors that foundation doing?
HORNBY: Well, Larry, we've been inundated with responses from all over the world and to date I think we're around about $700,000 in donations over the Internet, some 8,000 new Wildlife Warriors have come onboard and that's the important thing for us, Larry.
You know, Steve always wanted to create a global wildlife force and encourage more people to get involved with the process. And, you know, we're seeing it come to fruition but, you know, sadly it's happened at a time and he'll not be able to see that but it is in his honor. We want to thank everyone out there for getting onboard.
KING: And you can contact that foundation and help them. The correct website is wildlifewarrior.org.au, wildlifewarriors.org.au.
John Wiegel, how is attendance at the reptile park?
WIEGEL: Attendance at -- you know, we're at the Australian Reptile Park. It's a different zoo, Larry.
KING: I know.
WIEGEL: It's good and we've had so many people in our community that want to pay respect to Steve that have come as a result and just left a tribute to him, which we're passing on to the family but it's a -- it's been a very dark week.
KING: John Stainton, you're a noble friend. You've done outstanding work. Your next visit to the states I hope will include a visit to us.
STAINTON: I'll be there, Larry. Thank you very, very much for the time to do this. Thank you.
KING: Thank you, John Stainton, Philippe Cousteau, John Wiegel, and Michael Hornby.
Author Ann Coulter said that our next guest was a 9/11 widow who actually enjoyed their husband's deaths. But tonight this widow's got some choice words for Ms. Coulter when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KRISTEN BREITWEISER: We spent $30 billion on defense and intelligence and the bottom line is our nation was brought to its knees by 19 hijackers and 3,000 people were killed.
ANN COULTER: If people are going to use a personal tragedy in their lives to inject themselves into a national debate, I'm sorry, you can't just say "Oh, we're off limits. Oh, now we're going to invoke the fact that our husbands died and you can't criticize us."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. We welcome Kristen Breitweiser to these cameras. She's the 9/11 widow. Her husband, Ron, was killed at the World Trade Center. The tragedy transformed her from a suburban housewife to one of America's leading 9/11 activists, and now an author. Her book is "Wake-Up Call." There you see its cover, just published by Warner Books -- "The Political Education of a 9/11 Widow."
Does it seem like five years?
KRISTEN BREITWEISER, 9/11 WIDOW: In some ways it seems like a long five years, and in others a short five years.
KING: Is it going to be hard for you Monday?
BREITWEISER: It's always hard. I think for many of the families, every day is hard for us, every day is an anniversary, because you're sort of trying to feel your way out and figure out what our life is, you know, without our loved ones.
KING: Before we get to the Ann Coulter thing and the concept of writing the book, tell me what Ron was doing at the World Trade Center and what happened that -- he called you that day, right?
BREITWEISER: He was on the 94th floor of the second tower.
KING: Working for?
BREITWEISER: Working for Fiduciary Trust. He was a money manager. And he called at 8:52 to tell me that it wasn't his building, that he was safe, he was OK. I really didn't know what he was talking about, I didn't have the television on.
KING: So you didn't know about the first building?
BREITWEISER: I had no idea. And I switched the television on and remained on the phone with him. And he said he didn't want me to worry, he was OK, it wasn't his building. At one point, his voice cracked and he said that he was seeing people fall out the windows. And that's when I knew he was scared. And I was like, honey, you're going to be OK, I love you. And then he wanted to get off the phone to go watch it on television, and a few minutes later I was still watching television and I saw his building explode. KING: Did you know right then that it was hopeless for him, because he was too high up?
BREITWEISER: I sort of knew, because it was only a few moments, and when I saw the explosion I knew roughly where he was and I think I knew.
KING: The phone never rang?
BREITWEISER: No. And then certainly when the buildings collapsed, I clearly knew.
KING: What turned you into an activist?
BREITWEISER: I think the fact that no one else was wanting to investigate what went wrong and how it was possible that our nation could be so vulnerable to such an attack. I would have given anything for our elected officials to have asked for a commission or an investigation. The reality is no one else was doing it.
KING: So you were one of the leaders in making a -- talking about a commission?
BREITWEISER: In fighting for the creation of an independent commission and explaining the need for a commission. Congress was doing its own investigation, but they were solely looking at the intelligence failures. And when you look at the day of 9/11, you see that it's broader than that. There is airline security issues, local response issues, immigration issues.
KING: I want to get to a lot of them. When Ann Coulter came out with her book and singled out the Jersey girls, were you shocked?
BREITWEISER: Yes. I think it was sort of like, where did this come from? Why is she doing this now?
KING: She was -- Ann was confronted by some of the more damning comments by Matt Lauer on "The Today Show." Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, TODAY SHOW: In this part is the part I really need to talk to you about. "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."
ANN COULTER, AUTHOR: Yes.
LAUER: Because they dare to speak out?
COULTER: To speak out using the fact that they're widows. This is the left's doctrine of infallibility. If they have a point to make about the 9/11 commission, about how to fight the war on terrorism, how about sending in somebody we're allowed to respond to?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREITWEISER: I mean, respectfully, I...
KING: Why respectfully? Go ahead.
BREITWEISER: You know, we received an enormous amount of resistance in Washington when we were fighting for the commission and when the commission was actually impaneled, trying to get them access to documents, access to individuals, an extension of time, funding, all of these things. And I must say, without telling tales out of school, the meetings behind closed doors were extremely contentious. We were not treated with kid gloves. It was a battle. I don't think it should have been a battle. And I think that if there's any explanation as to why we were forced to turn to the media to raise awareness with the American public, it was because there was so much resistance in Washington.
Had President Bush established a presidential commission in the days after 9/11, we would have never had to go to Washington to ask for a commission.
KING: Were you shocked that people were angered at you, who lost something? People who didn't lose anything were angered at you, who lost something, a husband.
BREITWEISER: You know, I think one of the sad things is that at this point at least, the country's so polarized. I think that there was an enormous sense of unity in the world, not just our own country, in the days after 9/11. We seem to have lost our way with that. And you know what? Honestly, I think Ann Coulter is doing what I would hope every American would do. And that's why I wrote the book. I think everyone needs to partake in this government's actions. We need to have our voices heard. It's our -- we're entitled to it. We're American citizens.
KING: Let's watch her again, this time with Tucker Carlson. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COULTER: If people are going to use a personal tragedy in their lives to inject themselves into a national debate, I'm sorry, you can't just say, oh, we're off limits. Oh, now we're going to invoke the fact that our husbands died and you can't criticize us. They were specifically using their husbands' deaths and there were...
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC: But that doesn't mean they're enjoying it. I presume they're going home at night with their husbands gone, and their kids are there and where's dad? And it's -- jeez, it's so depressing.
COULTER: And so are the thousands of widows who are not cutting campaign commercials for Clinton. These women got paid. They ought to take their money and shut up about it. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How do you react to that charge? That this is financial gain for you.
BREITWEISER: I would say this -- first of all, we went to Washington because we wanted answers. We wanted to know that we were safer. And specifically because we had children who had lost their dads. We wanted them to know that they were going to be safer in this country. We wanted them to know that it was not acceptable for planes to fly into buildings.
You know, I really respectfully hope nothing ever happens to Ann Coulter so that she knows what it's like to be so impassioned by your loss that you will not relent, you will not yield, you will not give up until you have answers and the truth and you know that something good comes out of something so horrible.
And I think if you look at legislation that has come from people who are victims -- whether it's Megan's law or the Amber Alert -- you know, specific example, children with diabetes, cancer, all of that comes out of people who have suffered a loss and want to make something good from it.
KING: Should we be mad at the mothers of the diabetic children?
KING: Our guest is Kristen Breitweiser. And the book just out is "Wake-Up Call."
When we come back, the very special possession of Kristen's husband that was found in the rubble of the World Trade Center. Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BREITWEISER: My name is Kristen Breitweiser. On September 11th, my husband, Ron, was killed at the World Trade Center. For the last three years, the women standing alongside me here tonight, Laurie Van Auken, Monica Gabriel, Mindy Kleinberg and Patty Casazza, have fought with me and other 9/11 families to learn lessons from September 11th so that it would never happen again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Kristen Breitweiser, the author of "Wake- Up Call." Your husband's wedding ring was found?
KING: How did that happen?
BREITWEISER: I think it's miraculous, really. But, and I have it on my finger. It was actually very loose on his finger. And I received very early on part of his left arm and his wedding band. Out of, but that was it. And then, sorry.
KING: They sent you his left arm?
BREITWEISER: Part of his left arm and some of his fingers, with the wedding band still attached.
KING: Is it hard to wear this?
BREITWEISER: It is very hard to wear it. But I kind of consider it my most treasured possession, other than my daughter.
KING: Where did they find it?
BREITWEISER: I could tell you that specifically because I know the quadrant and the zone, everything was mapped out and the time that it was found and the I.D. number of it. But I don't know it off the top of my head. But everything was very specifically --
KING: On Sean Hannity's show, he wondered if Ann Coulter had gotten too personal. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: People enjoying their husbands' death so much.
COULTER: That's right.
HANNITY: This is the heart of, did that take it out of the arena of debate and go to the personal?
COULTER: The truth cannot be delivered with Novocain. There have been plenty of precious little acerbic articles written about these women. No, the truth comes out screaming and bops people on the head. Now Americans recognize this, and I think in the future they won't fall for this practice of Liberals foisting their unsalable political opinions on us by using a victim we're not allowed to respond to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You've got to have some emotion with that. You can't stay respectfully ...
BREITWEISER: I only wish that, you know what she said about the truth coming out and bopping people on the head were true about the 9/11 attacks. I mean, you know, I certainly don't think we have the whole truth with those attacks. I don't think we have all the answers. And I only wish, you know, that were true when it came to 9/11. I think even to this very day there's a controversy about a dramatization on ABC that, you know is --
KING: Tomorrow and Sunday and Monday.
BREITWEISER: And the whole reason we fought for a commission was that we would have a clear record of what happened. KING: Do you have a great suspicion about something?
BREITWEISER: No, not at all. I just think that, you know, honestly, we have children. The women that I went to Washington with, we all had kids and it was important to us that, you know, when we were asked by them, well, what happened here and what happened there, that we would have answers for them. And I think that anyone who loses someone, I mean, if you lose someone in a car accident, there's an investigation. They draw lines in the road. They put cones up. And it just seemed illogical to us that 3,000 people were killed on 9/11 and yet there was no interest in getting to the bottom of it, to having an investigation, and to learning lessons.
KING: She also said, I won't dwell on it much longer, but she also said, how do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy. That's a little below the belt, isn't it?
BREITWEISER: Yes. She's clearly never seen me in a bathing suit. You know, listen, I think that name calling is very counter- productive. I think that the nation is in a very dangerous place today. We have two wars going on. And I think that if Ann Coulter is able to have that kind of air time, I think that we deserve to have a better commentary from her. I'm all for debate. I'm all for people sharing opinions. But it has to be respectful.
KING: You wrote a letter to her, right?
BREITWEISER: I did.
KING: One of which I'll have you read from your book. But I'll quote a letter you wrote in closing Kristen's book, Ann, the jersey girls are moms. We have children. Maybe one day if you have a child you may understand the sense of duty and obligation that parents feel toward their children to provide them with a safe and secure environment. We simply wanted to inform the nation about what needed to be done and we still intend to do that. Have you met with her?
KING: Has she responded to you?
KING: To your letter?
KING: Did you expect her to?
BREITWEISER: I didn't really care. I wanted to set the record straight. Some of the things that she said were clearly inaccurate. I specifically didn't address the more, you know, vitriolic comments that she made. I wanted to address the comments that she made that we supported the commission being a whitewash. We clearly did not. I only wish that her, you know, discrepancies or issues with the commission were aired by her when we were airing them. We could have used her help and, you know, to do it now and to criticize a commission that is finished and its work is complete, I think is, you know, counterproductive.
KING: You are not satisfied with the commission?
BREITWEISER: Absolutely not.
KING: What didn't they do that you wanted them to do?
BREITWEISER: I mean, you know, they did not put all of their witnesses under oath. They didn't use their subpoena power, something that we fought very hard behind closed doors for them to have. There was conflicting testimony. There were other issues in areas that were never investigated at all. We used to bring whistle blowers in for them to speak to what's called a skiff. I mean, there's a whole laundry list of things that to this very day we do not have answers for. And I just want to say that when we don't have those answers, it keeps us vulnerable and we are less safe.
KING: Kristen Breitweiser is the guest. The book just out is "Wake-Up Call." Anderson Cooper is going to host "AC 360" at the top of the hour. You never know where Anderson is, but we know where he is tonight. He's in Kabul, Afghanistan. Anderson, why there?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Larry, in the build-up to the fifth anniversary of 9/11 we decided to come here and take a look at the resurgence of the Taliban, and we got a prime example of that on Friday. A massive car bomb killed two U.S. soldiers, wounded more than a dozen, killed more than a dozen Afghan civilians, wounded nearly 30 of them as well. It is a sign, Larry, of the resurgence of the Taliban here and their adoption of al Qaeda style tactics.
We'll take a look at how nearly five years after the Taliban were driven from power, how is it possible that they are back? Now NATO is saying that they need more troops. We're also going to look tonight on "360," at the top of the hour, at whether or not Pakistan, our ally in the war on terror, are really doing all they can to fight the Taliban living inside Pakistan.
That plus the capture of wanted fugitive Bucky Phillips. That's at the top of the hour, Larry.
KING: Thanks, Anderson. Where the action is, Anderson is. Anderson Cooper, "AC 360" at the top of the hour, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. And as we go to break, Jersey boy Bruce Springsteen performing thunder road.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, SINGER: I want to do this tonight for Kristen Breitweiser.
BREITWEISER: My name is Kristen Breitweiser. I'm a 9/11 widow and I'm standing here today with other 9/11 family members. We are here today to endorse senator John Kerry for president.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: And I'm proud to have the support of many of the widows of 9/11, led by Kristen Breitweiser, who's here today. Thank you very much, Kristen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The president will address the nation on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of 9/11 at 9:00 Eastern Monday night. We'll follow it with a LARRY KING LIVE edition from the World Trade Center. And we're going to have some extraordinary guests.
Kristen Breitweiser is our guest now. How's your daughter doing?
BREITWEISER: She's doing great. She's sort of my little litmus test for how my life is going. She's still dancing through life. And my main goal is to make sure that she's still smiling and giggling.
KING: Does she remember her dad?
BREITWEISER: She doesn't.
KING: You wouldn't, right?
BREITWEISER: No, she was only two and a half. And what I was told by the therapist at that time was that essentially she felt like she lost her favorite toy. And then as each passing week went on, she doesn't have like a real tangible feeling of a loss because she doesn't really remember.
KING: Was yours a very strong marriage?
BREITWEISER: Yes. We've spent all of our time together. And I feel that was a gift, because I don't have any regrets. There wasn't one more second I could have spent with my husband. And it's a nice thing to know that we spent every minute that we could have together.
KING: Have you put your life together? Are you dating? Are you in the social world? I mean, what is life like for you?
BREITWEISER: You know...
KING: You're an attorney, right?
BREITWEISER: Yes. I mean, it's busy. I'm a single mom, and I think every single mom out there knows that there's not a lot of time in the day. My daughter is my priority. And we spend a lot of our time, you know, going to the beach and walking the dog and doing what, you know, families do.
KING: You're not seeing anybody else?
KING: Do you go by...
BREITWEISER: Thanks for bringing it up, though.
KING: Why is that funny? Do you go by where the World Trade Center was?
BREITWEISER: No. No. I don't. I don't really feel like my husband's there, you know. And to me, I feel closer to him when I'm outdoors. We spent a lot of time outdoors when he was alive. And I really feel closest to him when I'm out there walking on the beach or walking in the woods. And that's where I'll be on Monday. With my daughter and our dog.
KING: I think there's a ceremony on Monday.
KING: You won't go?
KING: Emotionally you won't go?
BREITWEISER: Emotionally, spiritually, I just -- we like to be alone and quiet and contemplative. I don't really like to be around a lot of people. I'm kind of shy. So.
KING: You were a Republican?
KING: And now an independent?
BREITWEISER: Clearly an independent.
KING: Was it this administration that changed you?
BREITWEISER: It was this administration's response to 9/11 and the opportunities that have been lost in the last five years.
KING: Are you surprised by it? Did you expect more?
BREITWEISER: I am utterly disappointed. I think it's unconscionable. And I think if you look at the judgment of certain leaders that we have right now, it has clearly made us less safe. And it breaks my heart that that's the truth.
KING: Are you going to get involved politically again?
BREITWEISER: I work on certain issues as they come up. I'm working on some chemical plant security issues right now. It's a very important issue. Millions of people, or a million people can be killed if a chemical plant is hit. That's unacceptable five years from 9/11. We need better security. And there's no reason why the chemical plant companies should be winning that. The American people should be winning it. And you know, that's just one thing on a laundry list of issues that still need to be tackled and addressed.
KING: Our guest is Kristen Breitweiser. And when we come back, among other things, just ahead, Kristen's letter to Ann Coulter. She will read it. And it's not something you'll want to miss. And it's next.
KING: We're back with Kristen Breitweiser. Give a little history of this letter.
BREITWEISER: You know, Ann Coulter I guess started...
KING: I mean, this is a letter that you wrote to her. You wrote her a letter?
BREITWEISER: Yes. I wrote a letter in response, simply because I wanted to set the record straight, and I was concerned about the main statement that she was making, that victims and any American doesn't have a right to voice their opinion.
KING: Let's hear a part of it.
BREITWEISER: "You branded the Jersey girls media whores, a bunch of celebrity-seeking widows who enjoyed their husbands' deaths. Had your friends, including many elected officials in the Republican Party and conservatives in Washington, not put up a fight -- and a very nasty fight at that -- we wouldn't have needed to raise public awareness through the media. So if you want to blame anyone for our appearances on television, you should blame your own coterie, not us. We simply wanted to inform the nation about what needed to be done, and we still intend to do that."
KING: Are you, the Jersey girls, still a force?
BREITWEISER: We'll always be a force.
KING: Do you talk to each other a lot?
BREITWEISER: Yes. And I think that as long as there's work to be done, we will be out there doing it. And there's nothing more that we'd love to not have to have work to do. But unfortunately, at this point, there's an awful lot of work to be done.
KING: And how'd you come to write the book?
BREITWEISER: Literally? I mean, you know, listen, I thought going to Washington was a very eye-opening experience. It was not what I expected to find. It's not like eighth grade social studies. And I wanted more than anything for people, the American public, to realize that our interests are not being looked out for in Washington. And I think that the time has come that, as an American public, we need to be better educated and more engaged in all issues, not just national security but every issue that faces this country. And that's our responsibility as American citizens.
KING: Thank you, Kristen.
BREITWEISER: Thank you.
KING: Good luck. Good luck with the book.
BREITWEISER: Thank you.
KING: Kristen Breitweiser. And her book is "Wake-Up Call: The Political Education of a 9/11 Widow."
Thanks for watching tonight. We hope you have a great weekend. Monday, don't forget to check out our Web service, CNN Pipeline, as we replay in real-time the events of 9/11, 2001. It all begins at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Monday morning, just minutes before the exact anniversary of when the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
And Monday night, join us right here after the presidential address. we'll talk to survivors who made it out of the towers with seconds to spare, some amazing stories on Monday. And some pretty good guests too. Among them, the former mayor of the city of New York, Rudy Giuliani.
We'll have repeat programs over the weekend, including the interview with the incredible crocodile hunter.
Right now, let's go to Kabul, Afghanistan. Standing by is Anderson Cooper, and he will host "AC 360" -- Anderson.
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