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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Encore Presentation: Interview with Katie Couric

Aired December 25, 2006 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, HOST: Hi, everybody. Larry King here with a special Christmas Day look at some of the year's most memorable LARRY KING LIVE interviews. I spend this hour revisiting my November sit-down with Katie Couric. Our talk took place just two months after her September debut on the "CBS EVENING NEWS."
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, a primetime exclusive with Katie Couric, the one-time queen of morning TV has made history as the first woman to anchor a network evening newscast by herself.

KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Coming up, something new for the evening news.

KING: Now, what would it be like to have a job where the whole world is watching, no pressure right?

Katie Couric is here with me for the hour and she'll answer your calls and e-mails.

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's funny because it's always good to see my bouncy friend. She's so lively. We go back a long way, trust me. Katie Couric, the anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric," correspondent for "60 Minutes," anchor for the CBS News primetime specials.

It's been about two months since you made you debut. First, let's look at that debut and then some thoughts about it. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: I'm Katie Couric.

Tonight, it was the first front in the war on terror. And, in Afghanistan now the Taliban are back with a vengeance.

Lara Logan has an unprecedented encounter with al Qaeda's best friends. A gusher in the Gulf, the biggest U.S. oil find in years but does that mean you'll find cheaper prices at the pump?

Free speech, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and we're giving folks a chance to express them right here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What was it like?

COURIC: It was very exciting, very nerve racking. I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest and land on top of my script at one point. But, you know, it was -- it was a thrill. I think anytime you try something new and have a new experience and are opening yourself up to new possibilities it's really quite exhilarating.

KING: Was there ever a point when you said "Maybe I shouldn't have done this?"

COURIC: No, really there hasn't been and I'm really happy that I made this decision. I think it was the right move for me. I'm loving it. I'm loving the people at CBS. The creative process is really energizing, trying to come up with new and different ways to do an evening newscast. So, I have no second thoughts about it at all.

KING: With so much promotion, Katie Couric, Katie Couric, Katie Couric everywhere, do you think that increased the pressure on you?

COURIC: Maybe a little bit. I mean I think there was a fair amount of interest in this story outside of CBS. I don't feel as if CBS -- I mean, yes, I was on some busses and they did some promos and they needed to basically telegraph that there was going to be a change, you know, a handing off of the baton from Bob Schieffer to me on the evening news.

But no, not really, I think there was a lot of buzz about the fact that I was taking on this new responsibility but I felt plenty of pressure even without that.

KING: But you owned something. You owned the morning. You had two to three hours. You could lots of different guests and lots of different things. You could go outside, go inside. You could have laughs. You could have seriousness. Why then change to what amounts to 22 minutes of looking at a camera?

COURIC: Well, I think that everybody has a shelf life in a certain job and, as much as I really loved the "Today Show," and my mom even said to me, we were talking about it when I made the move and she said, "You've had a really happy experience at NBC."

And, I did but I felt it was ready to take a next step and this job was available so it was very serendipitous the timing of everything. And, it was different and I think the "Today Show" has certain challenges and the evening news has certain challenges, one of them being the time constraints that you have at night. But, I was ready for a new opportunity and this presented itself.

KING: Is it your baby, as Dan Rather when he had it, it was his show?

COURIC: I prefer to say it's our show. You know we have an incredible team of people who I respect so much, who come in every day raring to go, trying to do the best broadcast we possibly can.

So, no, I don't come in and say "Hello, welcome to my broadcast, my baby." I basically say "Hey, you guys, what are we working on? What are we thinking? I'd really love to do this. What do you think?" It's a really wonderfully collaborative effort.

KING: Why do you like it?

COURIC: Why do I like it? Because it's new and it's exciting and it's challenging. And I think when you have -- it's not really a blank slate but we do have opportunities to try new things and I think that's very liberating creatively for people.

And, I think to be able to shape a newscast is really a wonderful thing. It's sort of what Jeff Zucker and I did when I started at the "Today Show" and he started as my producer and then ultimately became executive producer. You know together we tried to figure out how to make the "Today Show" shine in the morning and what we could do to be different and how we could capitalize on the talents that we had working there.

KING: You had extraordinary ratings at the shot, 13.6 million I think opening night (INAUDIBLE) they've had.

COURIC: Yes.

KING: And now you kind of leveled off and are running about third where they always run. Is this a time phase thing?

COURIC: Time phase?

KING: Meaning is it going to take some time? Is this a phase-in process?

COURIC: Yes. Well, obviously I think it does take some time. Viewing habits are hard to change and I think, you know, the bottom line is, Larry, I didn't take this job for ratings. I took this job for the challenge and for the ability to really work on editorial content, to do serious news stories, the opportunity to work on "60 Minutes," which I think is the only true journalistically superior magazine show on television. I've always dreamed of working on that show.

KING: But you're used to top ratings, Katie. You're the girl who owned -- you're used to being number one.

COURIC: Well, you know, when I started at the "Today Show" we were number two and, to be honest with you, I've always thought that some of the best shows we did were when we were in second place. And, I think anyone who has worked with me would tell you that I'm blissfully unaware of ratings. Obviously if they do well and obviously if we have a big sampling the first couple of days or so it's nice to hear, "Oh, that's nice a lot of people watch." But it's just not something that I dwell on truly.

KING: Then what is the goal?

COURIC: The goal?

KING: It's not to be number one then what is the goal?

COURIC: Well, I mean that would be nice. Listen, you know, obviously that would be nice.

KING: It's CBS' goal isn't it?

COURIC: I think CBS' goal is to reinvigorate the evening news and to put on a quality newscast and a show that we can all be proud of and a show that really I think is modernized and ushers in sort of the new information era. You know when we started in the business, well when you started there wasn't even television, right Larry? I'm just kidding.

KING: Funny how you'll never be back, really and truly.

COURIC: No but when we started things were so different and now, you know, we all talked about how the Internet was going to change everything and, of course, cable obviously has changed things dramatically as well.

But I think that everybody is wrestling, whether you're a newspaper, a cable show, a network news show, a network morning show, with how to integrate all these different media distribution systems and how to make them all work for you.

KING: Do you wish CBS had a cable system?

COURIC: Sometimes I do actually.

KING: Of course you'd need to spend an awful lot of time.

COURIC: Well it would be nice because that means a lot more resources. But, at the same time, I think it's nice to really be able to concentrate your efforts on one terrific broadcast.

KING: Big challenge coming election night. Are you all set up for it?

COURIC: Yes, yes, we're really excited about it.

KING: Bob Schieffer will be with you.

COURIC: Bob Schieffer is going to be doing some analysis. And we have Mike McCurry and Nicole Wallace. Mike, of course, was Bill Clinton's spokesperson and worked for the Kerry campaign for a short period of time. Nicole Wallace was a communications director for the White House. We also have correspondents stationed everywhere. I think it's going to be a lot of fun and I think it's a great warm-up opportunity for me for 2008.

KING: You had a poll tonight didn't you?

COURIC: Yes, we did in fact and it was pretty bad news for the Republicans. We asked people "If you had a choice in your district, it's sort of a national snapshot who would you vote for, the Democrat or the Republican?"

And it's not a district by district poll but 52 percent said the Democrat and 34 said the Republican and it was an 18-point gap that we haven't seen since we were asking that question back in 1980.

KING: Katie Couric is our special guest.

And when we come back what she misses the most and the least about the "Today Show" when LARRY KING LIVE returns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: Is this a tacit acknowledgment at all, Mr. President, that the way these detainees were handled early on was wrong?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, it's not at all.

COURIC: Vice President Cheney says if he had to do it again he'd do it the same way, do you agree?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I would certainly do it again.

COURIC: But do it the same way?

RICE: Well, nobody can go back.

COURIC: What scares you the most about the possibility of a Democratic majority?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R) ARIZONA: Gridlock. I worry about gridlock.

COURIC: Well you don't have gridlock now, Senator?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From NBC News this is Today with Bryant Gumble, Katherine Couric.

BRYANT GUMBLE: In case you haven't gotten the message, Katie is now a permanent fixture up here, a member of our family. COURIC: They found the body 15 minutes ago. I mean are you just numb to these kinds of discoveries?

So you feel like your life has pretty much gotten back to normal?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

JIM CAREY: Katie, Katie, Katie, Katie, Katie, Katie, Katie, Katie, Katie.

COURIC: I've decided I'll be leaving "Today" at the end of May.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

COURIC: Hi, everyone. Well now that's the CBS Evening News. I'm Katie Couric. Thanks so much for watching. Goodnight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So, when you said goodbye on the "Today Show," we'll show it. Let's watch that. I think we just saw it but let's watch it again. Katie says goodbye. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, "TODAY SHOW": Wow, so many days, anything new?

COURIC: Well not really, Matt, actually. Actually, there are some things that are new and I guess this is the appropriate time for me to share my future plans. I wanted to tell all of you out there who have watched the show for the past 15 years that after listening to my heart and my gut, two things that have served me pretty well in the past, I've decided I'll be leaving "Today" at the end of May.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: I try to avoid watching myself on television. Now you're making me do that.

KING: Well, let's go look at a bus.

COURIC: Yes.

KING: What was that like?

COURIC: Oh, well you know it was -- I remember very vividly waking up that morning and feeling very nervous, almost as nervous as I did my very first day on the "Today Show." But despite my trepidation I felt a sort of an inner peace not to be too woo-woo about it that this was the right thing to do.

KING: Had you told everyone? Had you told everyone?

COURIC: Oh, yes, of course, of course I had. And, you know, listen I miss everyone so much on the show. KING: What do you miss the most?

COURIC: I miss I think what you mentioned earlier, Larry, the variety, the fact that I could have Jim Carey cutting up and doing crazy things and flying to the Plaza like Peter Pan and also interview Condy Rice or President Bush or President Clinton at the time or world leaders or prime ministers and also do some of the fun stuff. But, at the same time, you know, I was ready -- I really was ready for a change.

KING: So I'll do it this way what don't you miss?

COURIC: I had to laugh because I was teasing Matt. I e-mailed him about his pirate outfit for Halloween and, as much fun as that was, after a while I was happy not to have to dress up for Halloween.

KING: That's it?

COURIC: I'm being honest with you.

KING: That's number one.

COURIC: No, I mean I don't -- there's very little that I don't -- that I don't miss. I mean I really -- I had a great time and I think there are very few people who can say "I loved my job for 15 years" and I can say that.

KING: What do you think of Meredith Vieira?

COURIC: I think she's great. I think she's doing a great job. I think, you know, I think one of the keys to that job is being comfortable in your own skin and being the same person you are off camera as on camera because I think people can smell a phony a mile away, especially in a morning show environment where you're speaking off the cuff and you're interacting with people and you have to be quick on your feet. And I think your true self really comes through. And I think Meredith is doing a great job.

KING: We have an e-mail for Katie Couric. Question, it's from Susie in Elverta, California, "Have the male broadcasters welcomed you as an equal or do you still feel like this is a boys' club that you're trying to get into?"

COURIC: Nobody has told me to get the broads out of broadcasting since I've come to CBS and everybody has been very warm and welcoming. I think there's very little sexism. I really have encountered absolutely no sexism within CBS. And, as I said, people have been very embracing of me and my views and hopefully what I do.

KING: What's the biggest change you're trying to make? What are you trying to bring to evening news that wasn't there?

COURIC: I think that, you know, we are trying day by day, little by little, step by step, I think to make it more accessible, more understandable. We're trying to put events into perspective. As you know, people can get the headlines 24/7 in a panoply of places. That sounded good, very literative, right?

KING: (INAUDIBLE).

COURIC: And I think what we're trying to do is give stories some context and I think sometimes broadcasters assume people understand the complexities of an issue and it doesn't hurt to say, "By the way, what exactly is embryonic stem cell research and why can't adult stem cells be used as efficaciously as embryonic stem cells and how does the process work?"

So, we try to take a step back and who is this guy, Kim Jong Il? And why does his hair look the way it does? I'm kidding, we didn't do that part. But, you know, we try to kind of take a step and go a step deeper and that's challenging, as you said, in the time that we have allotted.

But, I think we just want to make -- I mean I know it sounds so cheesy but Rome Hartman and I always say, you know, keep it real. We want it to be authentic and real. I don't want to be, you know, be pontificating about something. I want to try to decipher and understand the world around me along with the viewer.

KING: And, if you do it right the viewers will find you?

COURIC: Listen, I hope so. I mean changing the paradigm of how people consume news is a challenge too, you know.

KING: You bet.

COURIC: And I'm just going to do the best I possibly can.

KING: Katie Couric is our special guest tonight on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: I leave this morning not with a heavy heart at all, I mean sadness because of how much I'm going to miss you all, but with a very full heart filled with love and memories and, yes, gratitude.

Now I know I'll never have a partner like you again because I'll never be working with a partner again. And beneath this well-dressed exterior lies a huge and loving heart and I'm going to miss you so much.

LAUER: What I cherish most of all and I want the people at home to know is, boy, have we laughed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: Like Rush Limbaugh suggested that you had failed to take your medication intentionally so when you did that ad you'd be more symptomatic and therefore more sympathetic.

MICHAEL J. FOX: The irony of it is that I -- that I was too medicated.

COURIC: You have said before this is a bipartisan problem that requires a bipartisan solution.

FOX: Well I said, no, disease is a non-partisan problem that requires a bipartisan solution.

COURIC: Would you support a Republican candidate?

FOX: I have. Arlen Specter is my guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: In that connection we have an e-mail question from Jeff in Dayton, Ohio, Katie. It says, "You did a wonderful job interviewing Michael J. Fox considering your father also suffers from Parkinson's disease." How hard was it to conduct the interview?

COURIC: I think even if you don't have a loved one who is suffering from this disease it's obviously very upsetting and unsettling to be with Michael J. Fox and to see him struggle that way. But I think he's so eloquent and what he has to say he says with such passion that I think you soon forget his uncontrollable tremors and really focus on what he's trying to say.

I've been around a lot of Parkinson's patients. I did an hour with Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali for NBC and I went to a Parkinson's center in Phoenix and you know it's difficult because people with Parkinson's are just like the two of us. They just don't have -- they're not producing enough dopamine and therefore they can't control their movements.

KING: Does your father have the same kind of movements as Michael?

COURIC: My dad his disease has progressed fairly slowly I think because he was diagnosed late in his life. And he has a tremor in his hand and he's on medication and he's a great sport and never complains.

And when I -- you know I knew that it was important for me to mention that I had contributed to Parkinson's research through Michael J. Fox's foundation because of my dad's situation and also because of a lot of other people's situations. And I didn't want anyone to say, "Well see that."

And that's why I called my dad that afternoon and I said, "Hey daddy, you know, I'm doing this interview and I wanted to mention that someone in my family has Parkinson's. Is it OK if I'm more specific and say it's you?" And he said, "Of course. I don't care if anyone knows I have Parkinson's." So, it was a very sweet moment and I'm extremely close to both my parents.

KING: Were you shocked at what Limbaugh did and said?

COURIC: I think that it was thoughtless. I think Rush Limbaugh himself would concede that. And I think that it was based on misinformation about Parkinson's.

I heard many conservative commentators making statements that Michael J. Fox had somehow manipulated his medication or was acting or made sure he did that when his symptoms were heightened. And, I think most scientists and medical experts who really understand Parkinson's would be the first to tell you that just isn't the case.

KING: By the way, on another political note, what do you make of the John Kerry thing?

COURIC: Well, I think it shows in this day and age that you have to watch everything you say. I mean we saw George Allen, you know, caught with a handheld camera with that line, the (INAUDIBLE) line which got him into a lot of trouble.

I think that gaffs are shown regularly on You Tube Now. Every speech you give you have to realize that everything you say is going to be dissected. So, obviously I think it was a gaff and I think probably apologizing was the right thing to do.

KING: And this whole thing, this media, this watch what you say it's changed the whole picture hasn't it? I mean we're in a different world now.

COURIC: Well, I think, you know, you just have to be vigilant at all times and know that what you say can and will be used against you if you're not careful. And, you know, I can't imagine John Kerry's intent was to at all insult the troops overseas.

KING: He was a troop.

COURIC: Because he was a soldier himself in Vietnam. But, I think that every word is dissected.

KING: Do you find celebrity-dom (ph), I like that, difficult?

COURIC: Well, I don't really consider myself a celebrity honestly.

KING: Yes, but you are. You may not consider yourself. You're someone who is celebrated.

COURIC: Well, you know, I think I sort of have two different -- two different lives because when I get home and when I'm doing things with my kids and when I'm out to dinner with my friends, you know, I feel relatively normal. It does help you get, you know, dinner reservations at the last minute and that's a nice thing.

But, you know, listen there are so many great things about the jobs that I've had and the experiences that I've, you know, been blessed to have, so I don't want to complain about that.

KING: Do you like recognition?

COURIC: I like...

KING: We go in front of a camera every day. We must like something about it.

COURIC: Well, I like trying my best to do a good job. I like that I'm hopefully a good communicator and I can reach out to people and they can relate to me and therefore be more interested in the news. And, I think that's so critically important, especially at this time, you know.

The world has gotten increasingly complicated and I think it's really important for people to understand the issues and to make sense or if you can with what's going on in our world.

KING: We'll be back with more of Katie Couric, the anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News," correspondent for "60 Minutes" and anchor for CBS News primetime specials.

COURIC: You forgot all around good girl.

KING: All around good girl (INAUDIBLE) and vibrant and alive and I won't use that other thing I said.

COURIC: Yes, bouncy. I was like what is...

KING: Well bouncy is wrong. What do we like? What did we decide we like?

COURIC: I like lively.

KING: Lively. OK.

COURIC: Not perky though.

KING: Not perky. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CBS the Columbia Broadcasting System.

EDWARD R. MURROW, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening. The Atomic Energy Commission has just announced the...

DOUGLAS EDWARDS, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: President Truman held a news conference, as is customary on Thursdays, and he answered one of the big questions...

WALTER CRONKITE, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening from our CBS newsroom in New York on this the first broadcast of network television's first daily half hour news program.

DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: This is the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather reporting. Never before in 25 years have Americans in space...

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Bob Schieffer. Tom DeLay's fall from power is complete. The former House Republican leader is resigning from Congress.

COURIC: I'm Katie Couric. Tonight, it was the first front in the war on terror. And, in Afghanistan now, the Taliban are back with a vengeance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Walter, what's your first reaction to this?

WALTER CRONKITE, FORMER NEWS ANCHOR: Well, I am delighted that CBS is going to have our great talents on our evening news broadcast. I'm pleased that she will be managing editor, as well as the broadcaster.

DAN RATHER, FORMER CBS NEWS ANCHOR: A very good interviewer. She's a good and decent person. Her father was a newspaperman. She has a very good on-screen personality. And if she demonstrates she loves the news and has leadership skills, which I think she does in both cases, she'll be fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Comment?

COURIC: That was so nice that both of them were so supportive. Both Mr. Cronkite and Dan Rather, you can't really say Walter, you know, but they've been great.

I always had a lot of respect for Dan Rather's body of work and what he's accomplished. I'm sorry that his career didn't end on a more positive note. And that that kind of obscured some of his great work. And Walter Cronkite has been a doll and did the announce for us. I had dinner with him before I took the job and that was great fun.

KING: And one thing about Dan, he went into the field.

COURIC: Oh, yes.

KING: You going to do a lot of that, too?

COURIC: Well, yes, you know, I'm a reporter.

KING: By nature?

COURIC: Yes. And that's how I started. I love being out in the field, getting the story. I feel superbly comfortable in that environment. And I've been trying to get out as much as I can. I went to a -- you know, it's difficult and especially at first, I think, to go on location that much because I need to get back for the broadcast.

But I was in Los Angeles earlier this week and I did a story with some wonderful military wives in San Diego because we haven't heard from families very much lately. And, you know, tried to get to a diner in Norwich to talk to some Connecticut voters and I'm anxious to do more on the scene reporting.

KING: Tell me -- we're going to show a clip of this and I want you thoughts on the free speech segment of the "CBS Evening News." Let's watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: Coming up, something new for the "Evening News," besides me, we call it "Free Speech."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's quiet now, but don't be fooled. Another media frenzy is just around the corner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes it seems like energy policy is only discussed when gas prices are up and the elections are looming. But America's oil addiction doesn't go away when prices come down and the polls close.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Why is this controversial?

COURIC: I don't know how controversial it is, honestly. I think people have opinions about it, whether they like it or not.

KING: That's what I mean, that people are talking about it.

COURIC: Yes, that plays into the whole notion of free speech, so we encourage them to express their opinions. And you know, it's something that we're trying. I don't know if it's always going to always be every night. We're trying to have some flexibility when there's another big story or if we want the Michael J. Fox interview, for example, to run longer, which was a total of about seven and a half minutes all told, which is a big chunk of time for an evening newscast.

So I think they're interesting. I think some days they're more interesting than others. I'm sure other people feel that, depending on their areas of interest. And I think, again, what we're doing is trying some new things. And I think that viewers have given us permission to try new things.

And that they'll go with us for the ride, we hope, and some things will work. I've always said all along before we even started, some things will work, some things may not. And the real joy of doing this job is to be able to tinker with the format and not have to stick to something that's so rigidly constructed.

KING: How do you choose the people you use?

COURIC: Well, we really put out a wide net and we try to get everyday people, we try to get some experts. We saw -- we had a woman who was quite eloquent spokesperson, self appointed, about how much pressure women feel to breast-feed which, of course, is kind of off the beaten path, but it really struck a cord among a lot of women in our audience who felt the same way. So we really try to get a variety of voices. And, listen, some nights they work better than others. Some nights they're more relevant to what's happened that day. And you know, it's just been an interesting experiment and we'll see how it goes.

KING: I want to get another e-mail in here. We'll be getting some phone calls soon. This is from Scott in Morgantown, West Virginia. "There's been a lot of talk that the traditional network evening newscast eventually will disappear due to the variety of 24- hour news outlets now available." What do you think?

COURIC: Well, I hope it's not really soon. You know, who knows who knows what may happen down the road. You know, the whole, as we said, the whole media landscape is shifting dramatically. Newspapers may disappear down the road.

I think sometimes the habits of our children will then evolve and things may change as they enter adulthood and become more active news consumers themselves, you know. So I have -- I think that they're an important part of the media diet today because I think to have a place where you can find the news synthesized and kind of get a daily dose -- I don't know about you but I don't -- I mean, obviously in my job I do, but some people are working, they're taking care of their kids. They don't have time to peruse the Internet 24/7 or stay in front of a television all day.

KING: I don't. I watch the news.

COURIC: So they want maybe a nice summary of what's going on, you know, in the news of the day. So I think they definitely have an important place. And I was talking to the editor of "Time" magazine and he said, you know -- you have the evening newscast have the biggest audience of any media outlet today. You're talking about something like 27 million people when all the newscasts are put together. So that's a pretty sizable audience. And I think those numbers should not be underestimated.

KING: Would you like an hour?

COURIC: Yes.

KING: Succinctly put. We'll be back with more of Katie Couric. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: I'm Katie Couric. Tonight, new plans for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. Will the president buy it? In tonight's eye on medicine we take you again to the front lines in the war on cancer. The way things are going at the gas pump, there's no point in tapping off your tank today. Chances are the price will be even lower tomorrow. Federal authorities are downplaying a terror threat against the NFL. The Iraq war and the showdown with North Korea dominated a White House news conference today.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: I'm Katie Couric. Those stories and Andy Rooney tonight on the season premiere of "60 Minutes." Did your people do enough to call the people who were overseeing the site, i.e., Mayor Rudy Giuliani and city officials and say, damn it, we've got to protect these people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh EPA was very firm in what it communicated and it did communicate up and down the line.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: OK, what's that like?

COURIC: Oh, my gosh, the first time I did that and said those stories and Andy Rooney tonight on "60 Minutes," that was such a thrill and the little stopwatch because I grew up watching the show.

I have so much admiration for the people on that show. It was -- it was really thrilling.

KING: Like the way they shoot it, too.

COURIC: Well, I don't know. They shoot you very tight.

KING: Yes.

COURIC: You know, sometimes I want to say back up to Cleveland, but that's the way they do it.

KING: Speaking of Cleveland, we have a caller from Cleveland.

COURIC: Like how I set that up for you?

CALLER: Hello, how are you?

KING: Hello.

CALLER: Hello. My question, Ms. Couric is, I'm also a working mother and I think for a lot of working mothers out there you have said in several interviews one of the reason for taking this evening job was to spend more time with your daughters. And having daughters approaching teenage years, I feel they need me less in the evening than they would in the morning. So how are you juggling that?

COURIC: Well, you know, for the first time in 15 years I'm able to get up with my daughters and fix them breakfast, which usually is cereal. I'm not the best cook. But and spend some time with them in the morning and actually, oh, gosh, there they are. They're not going to be very happy with that, Larry. And I get to walk my fifth grader to school. And it's really wonderful.

It's tough because I don't get home until 7:30 or quarter of 8:00, but I'm one of those people -- I feel very strongly that it's critically important to sit down and have dinner with your family. And I know everybody leads crazy lives, but if you can just carve out a half hour to do that. So there have been some complaints that I'm making them wait too long for dinner because we used to eat kind of the early bird special, but it's been great. And the weekends are, of course, are really my cherished time with them.

KING: We had an e-mail on that same topic so we won't have to cover it about dealing with time with your family. What -- what's single motherhood like?

COURIC: Well, it's lonely sometimes. But it's wonderfully gratifying. I'm so happy I have my daughters.

KING: But you're filling two roles.

COURIC: Yes, but I'm very lucky. I have someone who lives with us. I don't want to call her a baby sitter or a nanny because she's really like a member of our family. She's lived with us for seven years. She's really a second parent and I feel very lucky that I'm able to have someone like her in my life and that they have her in their lives.

KING: How about male companionship, fatherly companionship for the girls?

COURIC: Well, our Yorkie is male. We've got that going for us. And, you know, Jay was one of seven and he has two brothers. And I wish I could spend -- and the girls could spend more time with them. They love seeing them when they do.

But, you know, when I think about it, Ellie and Carrie have spent much more of their lives without their father than they ever did with them because Carrie had just turned two and Ellie was six when Jay died. And you know, I think love is love and they're very loved. And it would be nice to have a father figure at some point for them or a male in their lives, but, you know, we'll see.

KING: Jay was so great.

COURIC: He was great. I miss him.

KING: What a loss that was. Impacting loss for you and for us.

COURIC: Yes. Well, he was...

KING: If you knew him.

COURIC: .. He was a fine human being who was very honorable and had tremendous integrity.

KING: Boy, did he?

COURIC: That's not that easy to find.

KING: I know. Anderson Cooper standing by. He will host "A.C. 360" at the top of the hour. Before you tell us what's up, Katie would like to -- what do you want to say to him?

COURIC: Hi, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, how's it going?

COURIC: Good, how are you?

COOPER: I'm going really well. It's a fascinating hour. I'm enjoying it.

COURIC: Are you being fecicious, Anderson?

COOPER: No, I'm sitting here listening. It's good.

COURIC: Well, I enjoy watching you at night, too. Now that I can stay up late.

COOPER: Well thank you, I appreciate it.

COURIC: So what's up tonight, Anderson?

KING: Go ahead, throw it to him.

COOPER: Well I'll tell you, Katie and Larry. Tonight more heated words from Republicans and Democrats on Iraq. Of course, a leaked item from the Pentagon calls into question just what military commanders really think is happening in Iraq. We'll tell you what it says, what they're saying and why the White House claims it's all been taken out of context.

Also, John Kerry apologizes, but the Republicans continue to hammer away at him. And tonight we pull back the curtain on dirty ads. Negative campaign commercials, why they work and how to combat them. All that and more, Larry and Katie, at the top of the hour.

COURIC: All right Anderson, thank you very much. Hey, you guys, this was my shot. Thank you. Anderson Cooper thanks, we'll see you later. Sorry.

KING: All right, throw to the toss, say we'll be right back.

COURIC: Oh, we'll be right back with more of LARRY KING LIVE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: The "Today" show is basically a news show, as you all know, so you have to dress appropriately. I try to dress usually in a very business like fashion. But tonight I thought this would be a chance for me to wear something a little more fun, a little sexier, so, what do you think? And for all you people from L.A., who have never seen the before, these are actually real.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So that's the anchor of "CBS Evening News."

COURIC: Thanks for enhancing credibility tonight Larry, I really appreciate it.

KING: No, one part of your life was you always had a lot of fun.

COURIC: Yes. You know, I think just because you have a sense of humor and you enjoy yourself and have fun and look for some joy in life, it us didn't mean that when appropriate, you're not a serious person who cares about serious issues. I don't think they're mutually exclusive.

KING: By the way, next spring I'll be celebrating 50 years on the air. I can't believe it. And CNN is surprising me, there's going to be a lot of things to attend to on the West Coast and the East Coast and I don't want to know about any of them. But one of the things I am thrilled about is that on one evening during that time period in late April, you will host this show.

COURIC: Yes, you just asked me during the commercial. What could I say? I'm kidding.

KING: OK, forget it.

COURIC: No, I'm kidding. I am honored and thrilled to be a part of your anniversary celebration.

KING: We're honored that you will host this show.

COURIC: Well, thanks. Thanks for asking me?

KING: Now, what will you wear?

COURIC: Was that a fake laugh?

KING: Why did that at all interest people?

COURIC: Oh, I don't know. You know, as fascinating as those suspenders are, I think it is a little more fun to look at women's clothing. And so I think it's something that people are interested in and I try to keep it in perspective.

KING: You didn't dislike the idea that they don't do it on what Brian Williams is wearing?

COURIC: Well, you know, it's just -- it's just the way it goes. As much as I think, gosh, I don't want to focus on someone's appearance or their clothes, sometimes when I'm watching the news, I'm like, oh, I like those earrings she's wearing or that's a pretty color. So I think it's just natural.

And I really don't -- I just don't give it too much thought, to be perfectly honest. It's hard to have to try to look nice every day and on weekends, I mean, I have no makeup and sweatpants or, you know, in a T-shirt on and I love that. And you know, one day I hope I'll be able to work in radio so I can just, you know, eat whatever I want and not care what I look like.

KING: You never did radio?

COURIC: No, no. I worked at radio stations during when I was -- during my summers as a student at the University of Virginia and Washington D.C. I worked at radio stations. And then I decided that I would try television. That it was maybe more -- it was a bigger opportunity and so that's what happened.

KING: Is this it for you? Do you ever envision, boy, down the road, I might like to try something else.

COURIC: Oh, of course.

KING: You would try something else.

COURIC: Oh, yes. I mean, I think -- I've always been a person who tries to live in the here and now and enjoy the opportunity. I've never -- I think one reason I've had some success is that I've always really thrown myself into the job I've had at the moment.

I never really necessarily saw it as a stepping stone. When I was a local reporter, of course, I thought one day I would love to be a network news correspondent and have the respect of my peers and cover Capitol Hill or the White House.

But I really was very focused on the here and now. So, yes, someday I would probably like to do something totally different. But who knows? I'm just not thinking about that now.

KING: We'll be back in a minute with more Katie Couric. But first, how does the first woman to become the sole anchor of a nightly network news show sign off? It's a good question. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: Now before we go tonight, all summer long people have been asking me, how will you sign off attend of your broadcast? Thanks so much for watching. I'll be back tomorrow. Thanks so much for watching this Friday the 13th. Good night and good luck. Thanks a million or $300 million for watching. I'll be back tomorrow. I hope you will, too. I'm Katie Couric. That looked like fun. Thanks for watching. I hope to see you again tomorrow. But for now, all I have to say is, I'm Katie Couric. Thank you so much for watching. And I hope to see you tomorrow night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: Did you get a signoff slogan?

COURIC: I thought about peace out homies, too urban. I thought nomis day, a little crunchy. Oh, snap, look what time it is. True that, peeps.

LETTERMAN: I don't even get that. What is that? True that, peeps?

COURIC: I don't know what that means. I'm Katie Couric. Thanks for watching. Don't forget to spay and neuter your pets. Thanks for watching. I'm Katie Couric. And I'm not just for breakfast anymore.

LETTERMAN: I'm not for breakfast anymore. You can't do better than that.

COURIC: I know.

LETTERMAN: We have a winner. No more calls.

COURIC: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: He's funny.

KING: There are all kinds of suggestions about how Katie should sign off her newscast. But we here at LARRY KING LIVE think this is a good option to consider. Watch closely because it goes by fast.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: Are they gone? Are they gone? You sure? Good morning, south side reef. I'm Katie Current, keeping it current.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: Yes, that was one of the suggestions. That's me in "Shark Tale."

KING: Keeping it current. That was a great movie.

COURIC: Well, thank you. Thank you very much, that was fun.

KING: I'm Doris in "Shrek."

COURIC: Oh, really?

KING: The female, I'm the bartender. I'm the ugly stepsister.

COURIC: The new one.

KING: I'm in "Shrek 2" and in "Shrek 3."

COURIC: You're in "Shrek 2?"

KING: Yes.

COURIC: I didn't even know that. I'm going to have to go rewatch it.

KING: Rewatch it. It's very funny.

COURIC: It's fun to do that. I bet your kids got a kick out of that.

KING: Oh, the biggest. You and this friendship between you and our senior executive producer, vice president in charge...

COURIC: ... Whatever.

KING: Wendy Walker, goes back how long?

COURIC: Well, Wendy and I started out together our first day at the -- on our jobs was at -- there we are -- was at ABC in 1979.

KING: What was her job, what was your job?

COURIC: She was an assistant to the assistant bureau chief.

KING: Assistant to the assistant.

COURIC: Kevin Delaney (ph) and I was a desk assistant and I basically made coffee and answered the phone and ripped wire copy, believe it or not. Shows how long we've been in the business. And I think we were both pretty nervous and we met and I remember we went out to lunch and we've been great, great friends ever since.

KING: Did you go on to CNN together?

COURIC: Yes, we did, actually.

KING: Both at the beginning, right?

COURIC: Yes, we came before it even -- before we went on the air, when everybody was disparaging it, when they were dissing it and calling it chicken noodle news.

KING: And this network in its wisdom took you off the air.

COURIC: Well, in fairness, I wasn't very good and I was young and inexperienced and really hadn't gotten much on-the-job training. With CNN in the early days, Larry, you could go from running a camera to covering the White House in a nanosecond. And they would be like, who can do this? Oh Katie, you go do the White House stand-ups and Stuart Laurie (ph), who was the Washington bureau chief gave me an opportunity. And I was dreadful. I so bad, terrible. And so they were right to take me off the air. I wasn't ready.

KING: Did you think the network would make it?

COURIC: Yes, I did, I did. I thought it was a revolutionary idea just as sort of the Internet if it hasn't already. Cable, I thought, was the wave of the future and is still going strong, obviously.

And Ted Turner is such a visionary. It was a little crazy, those days were crazy at the very beginning. But of course I knew it would succeed and I got an unbelievably great wealth of experience from being on CNN because I was a producer, I was an assignment editor, I covered breaking stories, I did long-form pieces. I worked with Chris Curl and Don Farmer who I adored. It was a wonderful work experience.

KING: Are you all revved up for Tuesday?

COURIC: I am, I am. I think it's going to be really a very exciting night and we've got some great people, as I mentioned, on board. And you know, it will be very interesting to see what the voters are saying and what our viewers are saying and really what it means to them.

KING: We'll try to do our best.

COURIC: Well, good luck to you, Larry.

KING: Thank you, Katie. Katie Couric will be back hosting this program in April. We'll have the date for you, and I'm honored that you'll do it.

COURIC: I'm looking forward to it, thanks so much for having me, Larry.

KING: Thank you, doll.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And thank you for watching one of our most interesting hours of 2006. And merry Christmas. Now, stay tuned for more on CNN, your most trusted name in news.

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