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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
The Brutal Murder of Tara Grant; Coulter's Controversial Comments
Aired March 5, 2007 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stephen Grant is our number one suspect, the only suspect in this particular case. He is now in custody for the murder and mutilation of his wife.
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LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a gruesome confession that shocked America -- a woman's torso found in this man's garage. Now authorities say he told them and killed and butchered his wife while their 4 and 6-year-old kids were there in the same house.
But to the next door neighbors...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was Mr. Mom. That -- that I have to say. Tara traveled a lot with her job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What could have driven him to it?
And then, has Ann Coulter finally gone too far?
Her use of a certain "F" word has even conservatives outraged.
It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We start by going to Madison Heights, Michigan.
Mitch Hotts joins us.
He's a reporter for the "Macomb Daily."
What's the latest on this bizarre case, Mitch?
MITCH HOTTS, "MACOMB DAILY" REPORTER: Larry, this morning, Stephen Grant was released from the hospital in northern Michigan, where he had been held for the past day, recovering from frostbite. And he was transported to the Macomb County Jail late this afternoon.
Mr. Grant has reportedly given a statement of admission for his involvement in the crime and for the murder of his wife, and is expected to be formally charged tomorrow morning.
KING: In the days and weeks after reporting his wife missing, Grant spoke to the media a number of times.
We'll give you a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel that you are not a suspect in this investigation?
STEPHEN GRANT: I have no idea. I mean, I know what I was told on the night of the 14th and that's all I've been saying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should you be a suspect in this investigation?
GRANT: I don't know. I mean I -- I -- they have to look at what they have to look at, and I understand that. I'm sure there's a lot of suspects in the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Mitch, what do you make of his missed -- of his demeanor?
HOTTS: Larry, I've never seen anything like it. If you take the aside that Mr. Grant could have been the victim in this case, that his wife legitimately did leave him, it's been our -- my experience -- that with a missing person, a spouse, sometimes you have to pull the information out when you're doing these stories.
Conversely, if the person is a suspect, they're very reluctant to talk to the media.
Mr. Grant has bent over backwards to make himself available to the media, even giving us his cell phone. And he just -- you couldn't shut him up, Larry. He just kept talking and talking and talking.
What's the community reaction?
HOTTS: It's been over -- I have to say, Larry -- and let me briefly extend, on behalf of the "Macomb Daily," let me extend our sympathies to the families of both Tara and Stephen Grant. Obviously, they are just heartbroken at this time, and so is much of the southeastern Michigan area.
The television reports have been cutting in. For the past three days, there has been almost hourly developments, Larry. So much of southeastern Michigan has been watching the developments, from Mr. Grant's fleeing...
KING: Yes. HOTTS: ... the discovery of the body parts and the neighborhood, everybody is just very, very upset over this.
KING: Thank you, Mitch.
Mitch Hotts, we'll be calling on you again, of the "Macomb Daily."
Joining us now in Mount Clemens, Michigan is Alicia Standerfer. She's the sister of the late Tara Lynn Grant. And with her is Sheriff Mark Hackel. He's the Macomb County sheriff, who says Stephen Grant has confessed.
Sheriff, confessed to whom?
SHERIFF MARK HACKEL, MACOMB COUNTY, MICHIGAN: He confessed to our detectives. He actually -- once he parted ways with his attorney, his attorney quit the case itself, he indicated when he was at the hospital that he wanted to talk to our investigators because he wanted to clear his conscience.
We sent the investigator up there immediately to talk to him and he gave a full account of exactly what took place.
It was over a two hour interview and, again, he was Mirandized, given the opportunity to get an attorney, but he absolutely wanted to confess to the killing of his wife and laid it out. We had all the evidence, we had all the information in place, we had pretty much of an idea what he did. And everything he told us coincided with what exactly we have as far as physical evidence.
Sheriff, was that confession taped?
HACKEL: Yes, it was. It was an audiotape. And, again, I know it may be challenged in court in the future, but for the purpose -- for our purposes, it really laid out a foundation of exactly what took place and pretty much settled in our mind what we had and what we knew about the particular case was exactly what took place.
KING: Alicia, we -- our condolences on your sister.
How is -- how is the family holding up?
ALICIA STANDERFER, SISTER OF VICTIM TARA GRANT: We're doing the best we can, Larry.
Obviously, it's a very, very difficult time for all of us, especially the children.
KING: What do you make of it, Alicia?
How -- first of all, what -- how well -- did you like your brother-in-law? STANDERFER: Hmmm. You know, that's a tough question. You know, obviously everybody has, you know, people that they -- they say well, you know, I can get along with him under certain circumstances and at other times, you know, you really -- you really don't get along with him.
You know, I'm -- I'm not going to comment any further on, you know, my like or dislike for Steve. At this point in time, it's no longer about him.
STANDERFER: It's no longer about my sister. My sister is now in heaven. She's an angel. And it's now about the kids.
KING: How are they doing?
STANDERFER: They are not doing very good, to be perfectly honest with you. They're having a very difficult time grasping things that were told to them today. But they are right now, I can assure you, they are with people that love them, that adore them and are going to watch out for them.
KING: Sheriff, what's took so long to search the house?
HACKEL: Well, as Alicia had mentioned, this was never about Stephen Grant, but Stephen Grant, right from the outset, wanted this to be about him. He came in and just obviously gave us the report of his missing wife. Right at the outset, we thought it was a missing person. There was five days, actually, since she had been missing he reported her missing.
And, for the most part, he was just trying to cover his tracks the entire time.
We couldn't go into the house with any -- without the probable cause. We didn't have that established. We reached out to the media to try to find her and locate her. And, again, we kept pressing on.
And as Mitch Hotts had mentioned, there was no interaction with us. Ever since February 14th, Valentine's Day, when he came in and reported his wife missing, he wanted no contact with law enforcement. Yet he had wanted the contact with the media to try to portray himself as a victim, to try to reach out to the public, to let him know that, you know, he was a kind of a victim in this case.
And it was a real strange and peculiar case for us to deal with, but once we finally established the probable cause based on some of the contradictions in statements, the untruths that he had told us and then, obviously, the physical evidence that came about, we finally were able to get into that house and, you know, unbeknownst to us, we actually found the torso.
Alicia, did you ever think, when your sister was missing, that it may have been your brother-in-law and that there may have been something right at the house?
STANDERFER: I would have never imagined that there would have been something right at the house with the children in the house, you know, an earshot's distance away. I was -- I'm as stunned about that as everybody else is.
What happens now, sheriff?
There's going to be an arraignment?
HACKEL: Yes. The arraignment will be tomorrow at 1:00. And, again, that's just to present the formal charges. The prosecutor will carry the case forward from this point. Again, there's a lot of shoring up of some information.
But right now, it's a -- it's a -- we're obviously over -- overwhelmingly confident, you know, that this is going to be some type of conviction in this particular case.
Obviously, he's confessed to everything. He's being extremely cooperative at this point in time. He will be afforded an attorney, obviously, at the arraignment. But, again, there is no question about it, based on the physical evidence, you know, he actually is the person that committed this offense.
Alicia, we have said that this is a trust fund now set up for the children. It's the Grant Children Trust Fund, c/o Warren Bank, 38880 -- 38880 Garfield Road, Clifton Township, Michigan, 48038. The phone number if 586-416-1650.
Are you involved in this, Alicia?
STANDERFER: Yes. Yes, I am.
KING: And the purpose will be to put it in trust for the children for when they grow up?
STANDERFER: Exactly. Exactly.
KING: Thank you both very much.
We'll be in touch again.
We wish you nothing but the best.
Alicia Standerfer and Sheriff Mark Hackel.
Up next, the medical examiner in the Tara Grant murder case talks about Tara's last moments of life.
As we go to a break, more from her husband and what he said to police about the search for his missing wife. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRANT: Oh, it scares me, because the reason they're looking for her in the park is because they're afraid something horrible has happened. And I -- I don't want to think that. And I don't...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you want to be involved in the search tomorrow?
GRANT: Yes, I asked. I know the area well. I mountain bike out there, I run out at Stony Creek all the time. And I mean if that's where they're looking, as well as anyone, I know the area.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been a gruesome day in the woods near Stony Creek Metro Park.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The body parts that you found, were they all roughly in the same area?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. They were in various locations at various -- it's a very tedious process, a very long process; again, as you can only imagine, with the wooded area, as well as, obviously, the snow that came upon us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Less than 24 hours after Tara Grant's torso was found in the garage of her own home, searchers say they have found several other body parts and evidence scattered around the woods near 29 Mile & Mound Road, not far from the Grants' house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us now in Madison Heights is Dr. Daniel Spitz, the Macomb County medical examiner.
Is it harder to get to the solution of what caused death when you have a body cut up?
DANIEL SPITZ, MACOMB COUNTY CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER: Well, it is somewhat harder. But drawing on the nature of the remains that you have, you certainly can come to a proper conclusion. Because of the -- the condition of the -- the remains that were found, mainly because of the environmental temperatures that kept the remains cold, decomposition was quite minimal and we were able to come to a clear cut determination that strangulation was, in fact, the cause of death.
KING: I know you're trained to handle anything, but isn't this above the -- above and beyond the course of duty, doctor?
SPITZ: Well, certainly I deal with death investigations every day. But when you're dealing with the murder of a young woman, a mother of two children and the dismemberment of her body, it certainly -- it takes a toll on you, to some extent. But you try and look past that, to not let your job get compromised so that you can do an appropriate job.
KING: I don't want to get macabre at all.
Was she dead before she was dismembered?
SPITZ: Yes. That is quite clear. The strangulation was the cause of death and the dismemberment was clearly after death, and most likely done for the purpose of trying to conceal the murder and dispose of the body.
KING: Any evidence of a struggle?
SPITZ: Yes, there was. The -- the remains do show blunt force injuries indicative that a struggle did take place during the process of strangulation or in the -- in the time surrounding that altercation.
KING: Have all the body parts been recovered?
SPITZ: Most of her body has been recovered. There was -- there are some remains that are yet to be discovered, but that's an ongoing process and I -- I'm hopeful that additional remains do get recovered for the purpose of having a complete set of remains to return to the family.
KING: How long do you retain custody of this before the family can have the body and release and have it for burial?
SPITZ: Well, although we know who the victim is, we are taking the extra step of doing DNA testing on the remains to make sure that all the remains that we have do, in fact, belong to Tara Lynn Grant.
KING: You're a -- you're a young man for this job.
How long have you been on this?
SPITZ: Well, I've been here in Macomb County for the past three years. And prior to that, worked as a medical examiner in Miami, Florida and Hillsboro County, Florida, which is Tampa.
KING: You ever have a dismembered before?
SPITZ: You know, unfortunately I have and each one provides new challenges. But I think, you know, the training that forensic pathologists have allows you to deal with these kinds of situations and to look past the gruesome nature of it to allow you to do your job and come to conclusions that help solve the case.
KING: Thank you, doctor.
Dr. Daniel Spitz, the Macomb County medical examiner.
Still ahead, author and psychotherapist Robi Ludwig takes us inside the mind of a spouse murderer. Mark Geragos and Stacey Honowitz give us some predictions about what the accused killer, her husband's trial -- if there is a trial -- will be like. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hypothermic and frost bitten Stephen Grant is hoisted onto a Coast Guard helicopter and flown to get medical care. For at least eight hours, he evaded a massive search effort through an extremely rural section of the Lake Michigan shoreline.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we found him, the individual, I don't know if it was a long sleeve or a short sleeve. He had no jacket on. He had slacks and he was in stocking feet. The temperature last night was 14 degrees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us now to discuss this fascinating occurrence in Michigan, here in Los Angeles, is Mark Geragos, the famed criminal defense attorney. In Miami is Stacey Honowitz, Florida assistant state attorney, who, by the way, specializes in sex crimes and child abuse. And in New York, Dr. Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist, author of "Til Death Do Us Part: Love, Marriage and The Mind of the Killer Spouse."
So let's start with you, Dr. Ludwig.
What kind of spouse -- if he did it -- and, again, we -- he is accused -- assumed to be not guilty.
DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSY.D. PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Right.
KING: We don't -- we haven't seen the confession -- what kind of person dismembers someone?
LUDWIG: You know, it's clearly somebody who has a lot of rage, I would say sadistic rage, somebody who is misogynistic. If he -- if it was calculated, it might have been done so that he would not be caught, he could just, you know, have the body parts all over in different places. If he's a little bit paranoid or psychotic, it could have been done to ensure that she would not come back to get him or it could have been a symbolic communication -- my wife was never in one place anyway, in life, so why would she be in one place in death?
KING: Mark, assuming that the sheriff is correct, they have a confession on tape, is this a done deal?
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, not necessarily. One of the things that's troubling is I don't know why they're putting out that they have a confession. And there's clearly case law that says that that's one of the worst things that a police department can do is to...
KING: Why? GERAGOS: ... because it pre -- you prejudice the jury pool. And one of the things that the U.S. Supreme Court has said is that if you put out there that there is a confession, there is virtually no way that you can get an impartial jury.
So generally that is not something that they should be doing. If they make a pronouncement, they should pronounce that they have arrested somebody. They should say that they will let -- you know, that the D.A. is going to file it, that the prosecutor is going to file it, and leave it at that.
This idea of kind of detailing all of the evidence for the public, while the public -- and obviously it's lurid and it's got a kind of a macabre feel to it, and so therefore people are attracted to it in a certain bizarre sense. But at the same time, how you want to have this thing go through and wind its way through the criminal justice system at this point is beyond me.
KING: Stacey, you're a prosecutor.
Do you agree? Would you announce you have a confession?
STACEY HONOWITZ, ASSISTANT FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: Well, I -- as much as I don't want to agree with Mark on certain things...
GERAGOS: Go ahead.
HONOWITZ: I think he's right about this. I mean, listen, you never know what's going to happen. This confession certainly is going to be moved to be suppressed by the defense, I would assume. And just like we had in the Couey case, the Jessica Lunsford case that's happening right now, you know, they put the confession out there and then, you know, eventually it got suppressed.
So I would agree with the fact that at this point you say you make the arrest and you really don't talk about the statement, because you'll really never know what's going to happen down the pike.
KING: But there is possibility, Mark, that the confession will stand and he won't even have a trial?
GERAGOS: Well, that's always a possibility. But at the same time -- and I don't have as much hesitation with agreeing with Stacey, but the problem is, is that if you do have the suppression thrown out it's involuntary on some basis, then you have this mettlesome problem of what do you do then with the jury pool that's been polluted?
And then -- and you have to ask yourself, what is it that the police or law enforcement feel -- why do they feel so compelled to pollute the jury pool in a case like this?
What does it tell you, Dr. Ludwig, that the medical examiner says the death was strangulation?
What does that tell you?
LUDWIG: Well, very often in a spousal homicide, strangulation indicates a form of intimacy in rage. You don't tend to strangle somebody that you don't know very well.
So I would imagine there was something that sparked some kind of argument where Steven felt threatened, maybe his wife threatened to leave him. We really don't know at this point, because there aren't a lot of details and it's really hard to make sense whether Steven's assessment of the marriage is actually accurate or whether he's paranoid.
He strikes me as a little bit paranoid, to be honest with you.
KING: Stacey, is the prosecution made easier by the fact that the children were home?
HONOWITZ: Well, in this case, you know, I don't know if it's an aggravating factor. There's not a death penalty in Michigan. If he's convicted of first degree murder or open murder, as they have it, it's life without parole. So the idea that the kids were in the house isn't an aggravating circumstance.
And from what I understand, they in no way, shape or form saw any of this go on. So I don't think it's going to make a difference in this case.
KING: What do you make of it, Mark?
What's your read on this?
GERAGOS: Well, it's obviously a -- if what is reported is true -- and I always say that with a caveat because in too many cases what's reported is not true. But if it is true, then obviously you've got somebody who's got extreme issues and this isn't a case that normally would ever get taken to trial. It's a case that somebody is going to look to a mental defense of some kind or try to do pretrial maneuvering in terms of whether or not the person is even competent.
KING: Will someone be appointed to defend him?
GERAGOS: Yes, I would imagine that the -- they'll have a court- appointed lawyer or a public defender, unless somebody decides they're going to take it pro bono.
KING: Stacey, does the prosecutor want the other side to have a good lawyer?
HONOWITZ: Well, in this case, what I've read from the news accounts, he did have a lawyer who was actually having contact with the police in this case. But I don't really think it makes a difference to the prosecutors at this point. If the confession is going to stand, if there's no grounds to suppress it, it really doesn't matter who's trying the case. KING: Dr. Ludwig, does it look like a psychiatric defense?
LUDWIG: It's so hard to prove, though, because even if he is insane, and let's say he's psychotic -- and he certainly did present that way when they found him -- you know, did he know the difference between right and wrong at the time of the crime?
And, you know, my guess would be yes. But, you know, again, that would need to be determined.
But given that there were a dismemberment and that is more unusual in spousal homicides, you would have to look at the psychiatric condition of this man and find out what was going on during the time that he strangled his wife and then dismembered her.
GERAGOS: And when you combine that with the conditions, at least that are being reported, as to where he was found, what he was wearing, you take a look at that photo when he was booked and things of that nature, I mean it's malpractice per se if you're not exploring a psychiatric defense, obviously.
KING: Stacey, what if he pleads guilty tomorrow at the arraignment?
HONOWITZ: Well, I highly doubt he's going to do that. But I'm sure people would be thrilled if he pled guilty. He gets life in prison without the possibility of parole. That's the bottom line. That's the penalty in this case. There is no other way to work it, unless they decide to work some kind of deal, which I doubt very much they're going to do.
KING: So if you plead guilty at arraignment it's off to prison?
GERAGOS: There's generally, there -- I hate to say never, but in every case I've ever seen, even when a client wants to plead guilty at an arraignment, a judge will almost never let them do it.
GERAGOS: Because generally they have to explore whatever defense is, there has to be -- there are always -- and here on its face there would appear to be some significant issues. And a judge is just not going to allow it, because the judge is going to feel like if somebody does that and then comes back later and says that it was not a voluntary plea, you're going to have years and years of appellate litigation.
KING: Dr. Ludwig, without trying to pre-judge, he does look a little weird, doesn't he?
LUDWIG: He does. He -- at least the pictures that they show of him, he looks like a crazy person. His eyes are bulging out. He doesn't look like a person who's processing things properly.
Having said that, if you are feeling intense hate or intense emotionality, your ability to behave properly is seriously impaired.
But from what I hear, it just sounds like there is this paranoid streak where he was processing the world in a way it was either you against me or me against you. And if that's the case, that could explain a lot in this situation.
KING: All right.
We have not seen the last of it.
We thank you all.
We'll be calling on you again.
Mark Geragos, Stacey Honowitz and Dr. Robi Ludwig.
When we come back, commentator Anne Coulter's use of the "F" word to describe a Democratic presidential candidate.
Has the queen of political controversy taken her act too far, next?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN COULTER: It turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word faggot. So...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Best-selling author Anne Coulter is at it again.
We've assembled an outstanding panel to look at the latest.
Arianna Huffintgon, founder and editor of Huffingtonpost.com, syndicated columnist, best-selling author.
In New York is Amy Holmes, Republican strategist, speechwriter for Bill Frist when he was Senate majority leader. I just saw Bill in New York.
Dennis Prager is here with us in Los Angeles, host of "The Dennis Prager Show," nationally syndicated and a best-selling author and lecturer.
And in Grand Forks, Michigan, Ed Schultz, host of "The Ed Schultz Show," nationally syndicated on The Jones Radio Network. He's billed as America's number one progressive talker and author of "Straight Talk from the Heartland."
All right, here's what happened. The gadfly Ann Coulter is at it again. She takes aim at Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. The CPAC conservative political action conference on Friday. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN COULTER: I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word faggot. So -- so, I'm kind of at an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards. So I think I'll just conclude here and take your questions. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And meanwhile, former Senator Edwards just about an hour ago has commented on camera about her remarks. Let's take a look at that, then we'll get with the panel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, we should not give attention to selfish, childish, hateful behavior. Second -- second, it is in these hateful, destructive words that the seeds of hate are planted. It is the place in which hatred can actually get a toehold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Arianna, the question first comes to mind is he lost a son, his wife has breast cancer. Why was it funny to call him a faggot? What was the attempt do you think?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, FOUNDER, EDITOR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Well, this is just her shtick. This is what Ann Coulter does. And the question is why do people at CNN and MSNBC keep inviting her to their shows? I think they have some responsibility...
KING: She hasn't been here in a long time.
HUFFINGTON: She hasn't been here since '05.
HUFFINGTON: But she has been on many shows. She was on "Hardball with Chris Matthews" a few months ago and she called Al Gore a total fag. This is not a surprise. This is a woman who has said we should put rat poison in Judge Stevens' creme brulee, who said we should impeach or assassinate Bill Clinton. This is not just some kind of...
KING: Don't you think it's a poor attempt at humor?
HUFFINGTON: No, of course it's not.
KING: Do you think she wants to assassinate Bill Clinton?
HUFFINGTON: I don't know what she wants. All I know is that she's toxic. All I know is she should not be part of any kind of civil discourse and debate. All I know is that three strikes and you're out. She's done it about 300 times.
KING: Dennis? DENNIS PRAGER, RADIO HOST, THE DENNIS PRAGER SHOW: I said on my radio show without knowing I'd be on your show, it was wrong and as one person once said, it was worse than wrong, it was stupid. It is not good for conservatism, it is not good for American politics. Calling people such things even -- and it was an attempt at humor -- even in such cases is wrong. I just want to say, though, that there was no conservative monopoly on this. If anything, I think there's more of it from the other side that's just ignored by the media. Like Ellen Goodman, the "Boston Globe" columnist said just two weeks ago, anybody who denies global warming is the same as someone who denies the holocaust. Did anybody on CNN or anybody -- you agree with that. OK, fine. So there you go. So people who deny the holocaust they are fascists, they're neo-Nazis and that's the same moral level of somebody who thinks that we're not making global warming by driving our SUVs. So this is the mentality that we have to work with on both sides.
KING: Ed Schultz, what do you make of it?
ED SCHULTZ, RADIO HOST, "THE ED SCHULTZ SHOW": Well, Larry, I think it's about time to call the conservative movement what it is in this country. This is another macaca moment. I mean we've heard this kind of rhetoric from elected officials like Trent Lott, like George Allen and now we're getting a double dose from Ann Coulter. The key here Larry is this is out of the realm of talk radio. This was at a CPAC conservative convention. You know what you get when you put Ann Coulter on the lineup. There were all kinds of Republican hopefuls there to be president except John McCain. In fact, Mitt Romney introduced her. Now this is who they are. We know they're racist and now we know they're bigots and we've got the audio tape to prove it.
KING: All the candidates attacked her.
HUFFINGTON: That is what is so interesting. They disassociated themselves from the comment. They called the comment offensive. They called the comment inappropriate. They should call her offensive and they should call her inappropriate. This was not some random comment that she made which is not consistent of who she is.
KING: Let me bring Ann in and then we'll get everybody going. Ann, at least, we've just learned this, at least three major companies have requested that their ads be pulled from Anncoulter.com after customer complaints over her faggot statement. Verizon, Sallie Mae and the Georgia-based Netbank told CNN they were not aware their ads were on the website until some customers complained to have them pulled. This will not go away, will it, do you think, Amy Holmes?
AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It certainly hasn't gone away yet and I think those companies have ever right to pull their ads. Ann has freedom of speech. They have freedom, too, to not be supporting that speech financially. It's a lesson I think the Dixie Chicks could have learned when they insulted our president and then were shocked when their fans didn't want to buy tickets or buy their albums. I think on this panel you're going to have unanimity of opinion that I too found this remark just completely offensive. When I first saw it, I was baffled. I couldn't even understand this joke on any level, using that word, using that word to apply to a presidential candidate. It is uncivil.
And what it does - I agree with Dennis Prager here. Let's remember, all we've been talking about at the CPAC conference is this particular remark, not anything that anybody else had to say. It crowds out the field of good political discussion, good political debate. I would disagree with Ed with the idea that somehow that this can only be laid at the conservatives' feet. I don't know if he remembers, but not too many years ago, a sitting senator, Senator Byrd referred to a white constituent with the "N" word and tried to sort of defend that you can use the "N" word with white people and black people. I don't remember this being on the cable network news 24 hours, seven for three days straight.
SCHULTZ: Well, I think media has changed a great deal since then Amy. Come on. We're in the information age.
SCHULTZ: ...for Barack Obama. I wonder does she have a special word for Barack Obama?
HOLMES: Apparently, I listened to --
KING: One at a time.
HOLMES: I listened to a left wing radio show host who did have a special word for Barack Obama, which I thought was also completely offensive calling him a half-rican in order to undermine....
SCHULTZ: There's a difference between being on a show and being at CPAC.
KING: Dennis has a question.
PRAGER: That's an important point. I don't think there's a difference. I know Arianna can vouch for this. We differ a lot on politics, but you know, I try to run my show on a high level. I've never called people names. Ed Schultz, for example, through a caller who called whether he would debate me said Prager is a fat loser twice.
SCHULTZ: Well, you are.
PRAGER: OK. There you go. It's hilarious. It's hilarious. And that's the level of his show. And --
SCHULTZ: I don't lie on my show the way you do, Dennis. You lied about that debate. You know you did.
PRAGER: Yeah, well, we'll both take lie detector tests with our producers.
KING: I got to take a break and then come back.
PRAGER: Invite you to come with me to a lie detector test. KING: Let me get a break in. When we come back -- hold on. Hold on. When we come back, we'll see if we can get Dennis' question out. John Edwards wasn't the only candidate in the crosshairs. When we come back, Coulter comes out swinging against Barack Obama. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COULTER: Our blacks are so much more impressive than their blacks. I mean, look at ours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COULTER: I think Democrats have hit on the perfect candidate with Barack Obama or as I call him B. Hussein Obama. B. Hussein Obama is half white, half black. He has a background that's part atheist, part Christian, part Muslim. So there's somebody for every Democrat to vote for. The liberal Democrats can vote for the atheist. The Bob Byrd Democrats can vote for the white guy. The black Muslims can vote for the black Muslim. And the African-Americans can vote for Hillary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PRAGER?: Does she ever criticize Republicans?
KING: Ann Coulter -- Arianna Huffington Amy Holmes, Dennis Prager and Ed Schultz. What was your question Dennis?
PRAGER: The question was based on this last point, if one runs a low life radio show where you call people names at the drop of a hat, you can't criticize Ann Coulter for doing the same thing at a CPAC conference. We who have a radio microphone talk to a lot more people than somebody does at a CPAC conference. So Ed Schultz is not in a good moral area --
SCHULTZ: Can I respond to that?
KING: Yeah, you will. Hold it, Ed. Arianna, do you think this is a double standard?
HUFFINGTON: No, I don't think it's a double standard. Sean Hannity last week was complaining about some hateful comments about Dick Cheney on the Huffington Post, which were removed immediately after they appeared, from an anonymous comment, and said that this is the exclusive province of the left. And he forgot that he had been sitting to Ann Coulter the night before. If we move forward in a constructive way, here's what I think we need to do. It's people like Ann Coulter who appeal to the bases instincts of her audience. That is really her trademark. That's what she was doing. She was giving them raw meat and they were applauding.
KING: You would not have her on? HUFFINGTON: I would not have her on. I would never appear with her.
SCHULTZ: Or anybody on the left who does this.
HUFFINGTON: We don't have on the huffingtonpost -- people we invite to blog on the huffingtonpost are not allowed to use words like fascist without any reason at all. I believe that this is absolutely counterproductive. It doesn't really help your (inaudible)
HOLMES: If I could jump in here.
KING: Go ahead, Amy, then Ed has to respond.
HOLMES: Let's just remember that John Edwards, he just got in a whole bunch of trouble with two bloggers that he had hired that had all sorts of crazy anti-Catholic slurs on previous blogs. He had to take some time to decide whether or not to fire them. He eventually did and that was the right thing. But again, this is not exclusively the providence of one side of the political spectrum or the other. But I think if people who aren't willing to raise the level of debate and -- like tonight, I was listening to Ann explain this, and she said it was a schoolyard taunt. Well, if I take her at her word, then that means that we're all babies at a schoolyard taunting one another. I think we can have a more intelligent discussion than that.
KING: Ed Schultz, you want to respond?
SCHULTZ: I do. First of all, Larry, this was not a talk show. It was a CPAC conference, with, you know, all the Republican candidates there's except John McCain. And plus she was paid for this. As far as talk radio is concerned, I knew this was eventually going to get to me, Dennis. But the fact is that your side invented the name calling. Sean Hannity refers to John Kerry's wife as a scumbag. What have they said about the Clintons? What have they said about Ted Kennedy year in and year out? It never ends with your side. The fact is, is that this woman was part of a conservative convention. She's been embraced by conservatives for many years. She's on the take. She's out there being there on the hit squad, the verbal hit squad, then everybody kind of distanced themselves. Wait a second. We've heard it from George Allen. We've heard it from Trent Lott. It is part of the movement. It is like talking down to America.
HOLMES: I would like to remind Ed that all four of us were on this show after the Mark Foley scandal erupted and you insinuated that any reasonable person should have understood that a gay man having a relationship with pages was going to be a pedophile by definition.
SCHULTZ: You're misrepresenting my position. You are absolutely misrepresenting my position.
HOLMES: I take total exception with --
SCHULTZ: That was a story about gay -- because it was Mark Foley who came out and said I want America to know that I'm a gay man. You need to pay attention to that. HOLMES: And when -- no, I'm paying attention to what you had to say.
HUFFINGTON: Can I just say one more thing? (INAUDIBLE) - you know, this is truly a teachable moment about who Ann Coulter is. And this should be a great opportunity for mainstream shows that value the level of discourse to stop inviting her whether it's CNN or MSNBC or anybody else. Let her just be invited by Sean Hannity.
PRAGER: And it applies to talk show hosts as well. We all have a moral obligation to elevate our discourse, left or right. And here you just had a violation of it on your show with your other guest from the left. No, no, absolutely, no, no it's not your fault at all. I'm just giving that example. George Soros bankrolls a good deal of the left, said that the United States...
SCHULTZ: Not my show.
PRAGER: He says that it has to undergo the de-Nazification. He was called on it by Martin Peretz, who's a liberal, the editor of "The New Republic." He actually said that at Davos, Switzerland. That's a bigger thing than CPAC.
KING: That's his opinion.
PRAGER: But to call the United States Nazi? He finally apologized. But the point is that this language is at least as much from the left.
SCHULTZ: Dennis, where is the apology from Ann Coulter? Where is the apology from Ann Coulter?
KING: We'll be right back. Let me check with -- we'll ask about that apology. Anderson Cooper standing by to host "AC 360" at the top of the hour. What's up tonight Anderson?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, certainly Ann Coulter's comments did get a lot of people talking. We'll talk to our John King and Candy Crowley about them and a comment that she made tonight about what she said. We'll also talk about the big political meeting of candidates in Selma, Alabama over the weekend, also following up with the mess at Walter Reed Army medical center. Last week, the commanding general resigned. Today he faced questions from Congress and the very soldiers he's accused of not serving.
And what can you say about the video of two young kids just two and four years old smoking pot, pot given to them by their own uncle? Tonight we'll hear from that uncle for the first time. He's 17 years old facing years in jail. He said what he did was not so bad. We'll have that, all that and more Larry at the top of the hour.
KING: The world gets weirder and weirder. Anderson Cooper, host of "AC 360," 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. We'll be back with our laid back group right after this.
Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, the "American Idol" contestant who is beating bulimia and belting out chart topping songs.
Don't miss Catherine McPhee, and coming up next Monday night, the always outspoken Bill Maher. Another must-see LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Ann Coulter did come out very strongly for Rudy Giuliani.
HUFFINGTON: For Rudy Giuliani.
KING: I'm just bringing up ...
HUFFINGTON: If I were Rudy Giuliani, I would not want Ann Coulter anywhere near me.
KING: Orlando, Florida, I'll take a call. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. I'm a Christian. Ann Coulter says she's a born again evangelical. Yet she spouts such poison all while wearing a cross around her neck. Shouldn't the Christian community speak out against her un-Christian-like comments?
KING: Dennis, as a Jew, you may respond.
PRAGER: Listen, first of all, Christians understand that Christians sin. These are not an endorsement of perfection to say that somebody has become a member of a faith. So one gives slack -- I mean, who would be left if everybody is ruled out? But yes, if people want to say in Christian life that people who wear a cross should not use certain language publicly, that's fine. I think that that's appropriate. All I'm saying is that this entire preoccupation with Ann Coulter given all the free rides given to people on the left who call, for example, you Christians fascists. I had Chris Hedges (ph) on. The man won the Pulitzer Prize and he calls you Christian evangelicals basically - not basically fascists. That's the name of his book. I mean that's astonishing.
HUFFINGTON: Here is really the issue. All this kind of moment only has a certain momentum because they feed the narrative. This is the Ann Coulter narrative. This is not one isolated example. This is what this woman is. I can sit here and give you chapter and verse of similar comments she has been spouting out for years. The question is why is she still part of the mainstream conversation? Why isn't she part of some fringe conversation?
KING: Amy Holmes, why doesn't she get sort of tossed out of the right's picture?
HOLMES: Well, because there's no one person who decides that. She writes books. They're "New York Times" best sellers. She has a blog. She writes columns. We do live in a country of free speech. She's invited to a lot of these college campuses. I'm not so sure, I know Ann, I like Ann, but I don't agree with these tactics and it seems like a form of political Tourette's or something. And so these college students, they feed into that because they're engaged in their own sort of juvenile bomb throwing. But I listened to her tonight and again she said that this was a school yard taunt. We're not on a school yard. We're here trying to debate politics in a serious and thoughtful way. And she was also diminishing the term that she used to say that she meant wuss or wimp or nerd or something like that. That's not my understanding of that word. I think it is a much stronger, uglier term than she's willing to say.
KING: Ed Schultz, do you wonder why CPAC invited her?
SCHULTZ: Yes, I do. I would imagine that they knew exactly what they were getting when they did invite her there, and they did pay her to do this. But I think moving forward, Larry, the level of discourse in the political arena is now accepting the word faggot. That's the problem. That's what the Republicans have got to distance themselves from. I want -- may I finish? I want to know if any of these candidates will ever go on the stage again with Ann Coulter? I want to know if Rudy Giuliani will ever step on the same stage with Ann Coulter and Mitt Romney who, by the way, she has endorsed? They need to distance themselves from her.
HUFFINGTON: That is really the real question moving forward. The question is, will you, Larry have her on your show? Will you, Dennis, have her on your show? Will you, Amy, appear on a stage with her? That's the way the move forward. If you want to clean up the political discourse, we have ways to do it. It is not censorship. It is just our own free choice.
KING: We don't like to ban anyone.
PRAGER: Will he have Ed Schultz on the show?
HUFFINGTON: This is the producer's decision. You don't invite millions of people on your show. Choose who you invite.
KING: We'll be back with some more. Tomorrow night, former "American Idol" runner-up will be one of our special guests, but as we go to break, the former New York City mayor voices his opinion of Ann Coulter's remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI: My reaction was that the comment was inappropriate, unnecessary, rude. I know John Edwards. John Edwards and I obviously are members of different political parties and we have a different view on probably lots of things. And I think we should be able to conduct our political debates without personal attacks on each other.
KING: I want the opinion of everyone on the panel. Where does this story go? Dennis, does it have legs?
PRAGER: I don't think it has legs. These things blow over until the next white female is kidnapped or dismembered. It's unfortunate, but that's the state of much media.
KING: Where do you think it goes, Ed?
SCHULTZ: Well I think politically this won't go away for a long time, Larry, because right now the Republicans, the conservative movement, the fact that they're going to embrace Rudy Giuliani who is weak on social issues they have an identity crisis.
KING: Amy, where do you think it's going?
HOLMES: I think it is probably exhausting itself as we speak. That people don't want to be discussing this "F" word that she's using. I haven't used it on the show. I find it very unpleasant. But again you see the story pop up next year when CPAC has their conference and we'll probably be discussing will they or won't they invite Ann Coulter.
HUFFINGTON: Where it should go is that CPAC stops inviting Ann Coulter. And that basically she's seen as the marginal hate filled commentator that she is and therefore, if she can start being part of the mainstream discourse, something good could come out of this. This could be her macaca moment.
KING: Why is she popular?
HUFFINGTON: Because you have people like that kind of hate-filled language that appeals to the worst instincts. Abraham Lincoln promised to appeal to the better angels of our nature. We all have the better angels of our nature and the worst angels of our nature. Ann Coulter consistently appeals to the worst, the most base instincts in human beings. And it is unfortunate, but we all have them. You heard that laughter, you heard that applause. I'm sure that others would have appeared to the same audience with racial messages and also got laughter and applause.
KING: Thank you all very much. They'll all be back, Arianna Huffington, Amy Holmes, Dennis Prager and Ed Schultz.
Tomorrow night former "American Idol" runner-up Kathryn McPhee. So our question of the night is, are the "American Idol" judges too tough this year? You can text your vote from your cell phone to CNN TV which is 26688. You text King A for yes and King B for no and we'll reveal the results on tomorrow night's show with Kat McPhee. Of course, you can always e-mail us by going to cnn.com/larryking. That's all. Tomorrow night, don't forget the question, are the judges going too far in their critiques? We never critique our next host. He hosts "AC 360." He's the standard bearer here for late night television in America. He's Anderson Cooper.
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