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DNA Test Proves Larry Birkhead is Father of Anna Nicole Smith's Baby

Aired April 10, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight...



KING: ... two months and two days after Anna Nicole Smith's death, Larry Birkhead is officially ruled the father of their baby girl.



HOWARD STERN, FMR. COMPANION OF ANNA NICOLE SMITH: I am not going to fight Larry Birkhead on custody.


KING: So when will Larry Birkhead get his baby girl? Now that he and Howard Stern have buried the hatchet, are they joining forces against Anna Nicole's mom, Virgie Arthur?

We've got Virgie Arthur's attorney, the doctor who did the DNA tests on Birkhead and baby Dannielynn.

And then...


ESSENCE CARSON, RUTGERS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: I would like to express our team's great hurt, anger and disgust towards the words of Mr. Don Imus.



DON IMUS, RADIO HOST: ... a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women's final. That's some nappy-headed hos there, I'm going to tell you that now.



VIVIAN STRINGER, RUTGERS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: To utter such despicable words are not right.


KING: They're going to meet with Don Imus in private. But before they do, the coach and captain of the Rutgers women's basketball team will talk to me.

Do they think he should be fired for his racist and sexist remarks about them? Will they ever forgive him?

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin going to Nassau in the Bahamas with a very happy Judy Birkhead. Her brother, Larry Birkhead, has been declared the father of the little baby that's been in so much question.

Let's hear some of your brother's reaction today once he learned he was the daddy.


BIRKHEAD: You know, it's all up in the air. Nothing is really determined except parentage and I'm the father. And it's been a long road. And I'm just happy to, you know, have this behind me and just to be able to start a life with my daughter.

QUESTION: What amount of certainty does the DNA show that it is you, what amount of percentage certainty?

L. BIRKHEAD: 99.99999...


KING: Judy, was this more a relief than a surprise?

JUDY BIRKHEAD, LARRY BIRKHEAD'S SISTER: It's more -- it wasn't a surprise to us. We had known all along what everybody else learned today.

It's just a relief for everybody else to know that, because there's always people speculating and saying things. And there's people out of the woodwork saying they are the baby's daddy. And we've known all along who Dannielynn's daddy is, and that's Larry.

KING: Howard Stern says he won't fight custody and will work with Larry. In fact, he spoke today. Let's watch.


STERN: I just want to say that I'm obviously very disappointed, but my feelings for Dannielynn have not changed. I am not going to fight Larry Birkhead on custody. We are going to do what we can to make sure that the best interests of Dannielynn are carried out, and I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure that he gets sole custody.

QUESTION: When will Dannielynn go to Larry?

STERN: You know, as far as I'm concerned, Larry can come over to the house and spend as much time as he wants with her right now. I would like there to be a gradual transition position period for her so there's no harm caused to her.

QUESTION: Are you talking about days, weeks?

STERN: We can't talk about the specifics. And we have a hearing on Friday that we can't really discuss.

QUESTION: Howard, how long are you staying here in the Bahamas?

STERN: As far as me staying in the Bahamas, I'm going to stay in the Bahamas regardless. I'm not going to leave Anna or Daniel here alone.


KING: All right, Judy, there's going to be a hearing on Friday. What is that for?

J. BIRKHEAD: I believe it's on custody, Larry.

KING: Well, since Howard is not going to fight it and Larry is the father, there's no question about getting custody, is there?

J. BIRKHEAD: I think right now it's all about the legal -- rounding everything up legally. And hopefully there won't be any more surprises and everything will go smoothly. Because right now the most important thing is Dannielynn in her transition and making things smooth.

KING: Do you know if your brother intends to bring his little girl to southern California?

J. BIRKHEAD: I'm sure he will. That's his home. But we are hoping that he will bring her to our home, and his hometown first.

We have a huge family, and everybody is cheering for him and been supportive of him, and they cannot wait to see that baby and love her. We are all excited.

KING: Because of the unusual situation, do you think Larry will allow Howard to be part of the baby's life?

J. BIRKHEAD: You know, I really can't speak for Larry on that. He will have to do that himself.

We don't really talk about that. We talk about how he feels and about the baby, and what she means to our family and what we can do to make things better for him. We really don't discuss him and Howard. KING: Are you surprised, though, to see Larry and Howard getting along better?

J. BIRKHEAD: I'm not surprised on my brother's part, because he is a loving and forgiving heart. He wants the best for Dannielynn, and he's going to do whatever he can do to make sure that that happens, to make things smooth and make things go well. So I'm not surprised on his part.

I don't know Howard well enough to comment on what he -- why -- you know, his motives or what he's doing. But he seems like he's trying to work things out and do the right thing. And we hope that he is.

KING: Your brother is going to be a single parent. How will he do?

J. BIRKHEAD: He's going to do wonderful. He's great with our kids. He is very protective of all of our kids.

They love him. They would much rather be with him than any of us. So he's --he's going to do great.

He's wonderful. He's going to be -- he'll fit right in. It will be like she's never been without him.

KING: Will he have a good relationship with Anna Nicole's mother?

J. BIRKHEAD: I think so. We are a very close family, and we believe in family. And that is Dannielynn's family. It's her grandmother, and she has a whole other side of the family that is Anna's.

And so hopefully whoever has the best interest of Dannielynn and wants to be a part of her life, if their motives are good and their feelings are pure, I know that he doesn't have a problem with that. And I believe that she is sincere.

KING: Judy will be back with us in a little while.

Don't go away, Judy.

When we come back, Dr. Michael Baird and John O'Quinn will join us.

Anna Nicole's mom's feelings on today's news with her attorney.

Plus, the doctor who conducted the DNA tests. And we'll discuss his tests on Larry Birkhead and baby Dannielynn when we return.


L. BIRKHEAD: I'm excited. I'm just -- it's just hard to do this by myself, you know. So thanks, you guys.

QUESTION: Do you know how to change diapers yet?





L. BIRKHEAD: I hate to be the one that told you this, but I told you so.



KING: We now welcome from Nassau, Dr. Michael Baird, the expert who performed DNA testing of Larry Birkhead and the baby, Dannielynn.

The level of certainty here, is it almost foolproof, doctor?

DR. MICHAEL BAIRD, PERFORMED DNA TESTING: Well, it's pretty high. I mean, this case, we got a combined paternity index, which is where the genetic odds favor paternity of 11,515,619. And the probability of paternity was 99.99999 percent. It's pretty high.

KING: How long have you known these results?

BAIRD: You know, Larry, we obtained the samples that we ultimately tested on March 21st, took them to the laboratory, we started testing on the 22nd. And we finished the report on March 26th. So, since that time, a couple of us in the lab have known the results, but really we didn't make them public today until I opened them in the courtroom.

KING: How do you take DNA from a baby?

BAIRD: Well, you know, there are a couple of ways to do it. Initially, we had feared that the system here in the Bahamas was going to require a blood sample.

Now, you can get a blood sample from an infant. This is a 6- month-old baby. But certainly it's painful and it's difficult to get.

But I was able to provide testimony to the judge down here to allow us to take a cheek sample. So, basically, these are buckle swabs or cheek cell swabs. They look like Q-tips.

Then you just rub the inside of the cheek. I took four swabs from Dannielynn and four swabs from Larry Birkhead, and we had a couple of swabs from Anna Nicole, and with those we got enough DNA to do the test.

KING: Was the baby cooperative?

BAIRD: Well, look, I mean, it's a 6-month-old baby. You know... KING: I'm kidding. I'm kidding.

BAIRD: Yes, I guess she had to be cooperative.

KING: Were you surprised at the results?

BAIRD: Well, look, I've been doing paternity testing for a long time, so I'm not really surprised at any results.

I think that Larry was very sincere in his belief that he was the biological father. So in a way, I was very happy that I was able to confirm that belief that he had.

KING: Yes.

Thank you, Dr. Baird.

Dr. Michael Baird.

Now we go to Houston.

John O'Quinn joins us, the attorney for Virgie Arthur, Anna Nicole's mother.

Was Virgie relieved today?

JOHN O'QUINN, ATTORNEY FOR VIRGIE ARTHUR: She's very relieved, Larry. And as her attorney, I'm very relieved too.

KING: So this came out happy ending, this is the way you wanted it to be?

O'QUINN: Yes, sir.

KING: Do you think, therefore, Virgie will now have a relationship with her granddaughter?

O'QUINN: Yes, I do. God willing, I really do. And Larry Birkhead willing.

I really loved what Larry's sister said -- we're family. We believe in family. And Virgie is the grandmother, and we're going to respect that.

KING: So she's not going to fight for any guardianship of any kind?


KING: Do you know what is supposed to take place Friday at that hearing?

O'QUINN: Well, I really don't. There are several issues I heard. In addition to the fraud that was committed by Stern, claiming he was the father knowing he wasn't the father, and requiring Mr. Birkhead to incur enormous legal expenses -- frankly, Virgie Arthur has incurred enormous legal expense, too.

And so that's an issue that I understand somehow in this hearing on Friday. But as far as the baby is concerned, I don't think there's going to be any strong issues. We have already arranged -- we have been in contact with Mr. Birkhead. We've arranged for some discussions, perhaps meetings on Thursday, between him and Virgie.

And just see if two human beings that both love this baby, both in good faith, see what they can work out. And I believe they are going to get it worked out, Larry, I really do.

KING: Are you surprised at the cooperation between Mr. Stern and Larry?

O'QUINN: Yes, because Stern has been saying the last week -- he said, whatever I do, I'm going to make sure Virgie Arthur gets no involvement in her granddaughter. What a mean thing for somebody to say.

That's not Larry Birkhead's style. And I don't understand this relationship that's developed. I don't know anything, except I know Mr. Birkhead has been declared the father and we are delighted about that.

And I know Mr. Stern can no longer go around falsely claiming he's the father and milking that relationship for money. I wonder what happened to all of that money that Stern has milked in the last month or two?

Did he put it in an account for the baby? I doubt it. It's going to be very interesting to find out what happened to all of that money.

KING: Based on your legal expertise, when do you think Larry will take that baby home?

O'QUINN: Well, I think legally the judge could probably put that in motion Friday afternoon. But as I understand, Stern -- some discussion I've heard from Stern, is he wants to have a slow process that takes four weeks, whereby Birkhead comes over to Stern's house and spends some time with the baby, and they increase that amount of time, and et cetera, et cetera.

I think Larry Birkhead is going to decide when he takes that baby. He's the father. And as far as the judge is concerned, I think after Friday he's going to say Birkhead's free to go with the baby.

KING: Thanks so much, as always, John O'Quinn.

Up next, a television first. The Birkhead and Stern sides together as Larry Birkhead's sister Judy rejoins us with Howard Stern's attorney and Howard's friend, the attorney for Anna Nicole's estate, when we come back.


QUESTION: What do you think Anna Nicole would say right now if she could see this?

VIRGIE ARTHUR, ANNA NICOLE SMITH'S MOTHER: I think she would be happy to know that Dannielynn is going to know who her real father is.

QUESTION: Tell me, what do you think Anna Nicole would think? What do you think Anna Nicole would think at this moment?

L. BIRKHEAD: I think she would be proud that I fought.

QUESTION: Where do you plan to raise Dannielynn?

L. BIRKHEAD: It's all up in the air.



KING: Judy Birkhead remains.

We are joined now by Ron Rale, the attorney for Anna Nicole Smith's estate. He's here in Los Angeles.

And in West palm Beach, Krista Barth, the attorney for Howard K. Stern.

Krista, has Howard, Judy and the baby, the three of them, been together today?

KRISTA BARTH, ATTORNEY FOR HOWARD K. STERN: You know, Larry, I'm not sure if they have been together yet today. I know Judy was nice enough to join you this evening. So I'm not sure if she has gotten a chance to get over there and see her niece yet. But I'm hopeful that's the plan.

KING: Were you surprised at the outcome, Ron?

RON RALE, ATTORNEY FOR ANNA NICOLE SMITH: Actually, personally, I was a little bit, because as of this morning I was thinking, just based on everything, that, wow, I think it might be Howard. But, you know, it was definitely a strong possibility also that Larry was going to be the father. And congratulations to Larry.

KING: Judy, do you know if the -- if Howard and Larry and the baby have been together?

J. BIRKHEAD: Not right now. We are hoping to see her really soon, though, Larry. We are hoping to see her real soon.

KING: Krista, what do you make of Howard's hiring Lin Wood, the attorney from Atlanta, prominent in suing tabloids?

BARTH: Well, I think that Mr. Stern has hired Mr. Wood to help him out with what's been going on, and I think we all know what that is. But tonight I think the focus needs to be on Dannielynn and what's going on with her.

KING: All right.

When does the rightful father get his baby, Ron? There isn't a question about it. So why any delay?

RALE: I think, you know, this is really all focused on the best interest of Dannielynn. And so there's got to be a transitional period. And so, you know, I'm sure that Howard and Larry are going to work together to figure out what that will be.

I know that Howard's consulted experts already to try to, you know, get some advice on how to do this in the best way for Dannielynn. And that's what they're going to do. So, I don't think there's a specific, scientific answer, but they will figure it out.

KING: Judy, what does your brother want in way of taking his baby home?

J. BIRKHEAD: Well, he wants to do it in what is best for Dannielynn. So, of course a transition period will be nice, but hopefully that will go soon.

She is still small and she's able to adjust easily. And she's going to fit right in. And she's going to have a lot of love. And that's what babies need.

They need a lot of love, and they need a lot of attention. And she's going to get all of that. And so hopefully the transition will not take that long.

Prolonging it would only make it worse in our minds. So we are hoping that that will happen soon.

KING: Krista, does Howard have any big concerns at this point?

BARTH: Big concerns regarding what, Larry?

KING: Anything.

BARTH: About the transition?

KING: Yes.

BARTH: I think that he's very hopeful. I mean, what we need to all remember is that from the very beginning, despite whatever's been said about Howard, he has wanted to work with Larry. And the two of them have been working together more than anybody knows.

They have -- there's been more cooperation between the two of them to this point than I think anybody has any idea. And I think the two of them are going to do what's best for this baby.

I think the only concern for Howard at this point is to ensure that Dannielynn is safely in the arms of her father, Larry Birkhead, right now, in a fashion that's good for the baby, and that she's just with Larry Birkhead.

KING: Ron, John O'Quinn said that Howard made a lot of money in all of this.

What do you say?

RALE: You know, again, I was jumping up and down in your green room because that's an absolute falsehood.

KING: He hasn't made any money?

RALE: He has not. And you know what?

KING: Nothing sold to the tabloids?

RALE: I'm going to keep my mouth shut because I don't want to talk about things right now. But I promise you, just like everything else, I think if you look back at everything we have said, we have never misrepresented anything. And you will see that Howard hasn't made a dime. I promise you.

KING: You say you don't want to comment because of a pending case? He might sue?

RALE: No, I mean -- no, I mean, you know what? It's not -- I will defer right now. I'm just -- I'm just saying that's a falsehood.

KING: Is he partially at fault for letting that kind of go by not making appearances and denying?

RALE: You know, it's not about Howard having to go out and talk about whether these statements that O'Quinn might make every other night or every night are true or not. Howard's been focused on Dannielynn and focused on, you know, Anna and what he had to do. So he will deal with this...


KING: You're not surprised at the cooperation now between the two?

RALE: You know, Larry, remember, I told you I think on your show that, you know, right after -- remember, Howard was never in control in this situation. It was Anna. And I was representing Anna.

When Anna died suddenly, Howard was thrust into control, and he opened up his arms and tried to reach out to Larry from the beginning. And you know what happened there? He got shot down. They weren't allowed to talk. You know, lawyers...

KING: The previous attorney?

RALE: I'm not going to name names, but Howard wasn't allowed to discuss anything with Larry. You know, after the time they kicked me out of my hotel room, that was it. You know, no settlement discussions.

KING: Judy, Larry didn't choose the baby's name. Will he keep the name? J. BIRKHEAD: I'm sure he will keep the name because that's what Anna wanted. Now, the first thing that she picked was Hannah (ph), and they had picked that name together. But I know he would want to do what Anna would want him to do, and that was she named her Dannielynn, and that is her name.

KING: Do you suspect this to be over pretty soon, Judy?

J. BIRKHEAD: I really hope so, for her benefit, for our family's benefit. Larry's been through a horrible time. And it's been a very trying time on our family. And especially for him.

And we are just glad that this is coming to an end. And hopefully it will come to an end soon.

KING: Yes, the hope of all of us.

Thank you all very much.

Still to come, a man who predicted today's news before a lot of people did. And a reporter who got a one-on-one interview with Anna Nicole's baby's daddy -- the real daddy -- right after this.


STERN: I'm going to stay in the Bahamas regardless. I am not going to leave Anna or Daniel here alone. I wouldn't do that.

QUESTION: Can you tell us how this is affecting (INAUDIBLE).

STERN: This whole process, everything has been very difficult. You know, very difficult. The way that the media has treated everything I think has been beyond irresponsible. At times malicious. And those are things that will be addressed later on.



KING: We now welcome two of the journalists who covered this from the get-go.

Here in L.A., Harvey Levin, the managing editor of He's also an attorney.

And Nassau, in the Bahamas, Tony Potts of "Access Hollywood," correspondent and weekend co-anchor who interviewed Larry Birkhead today.

Tony, how do you keep getting these interviews with him?

TONY POTTS, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD": I just keep tracking him down and calling him and text-messaging him, every technical way I can. That's what I do, in addition to calling his sister Judy as well. And also his twin brother. So we are just trying -- we're trying to find all of them, and that's how it happens. And he was very happy today. I talked to him about five minutes afterwards, and he told me one of the greatest things that I had heard in a while was that the legal document, Larry, that certifies him as the father, he's going to take that home and frame it.

And I asked Larry -- I said, "Do you have a place in the house to put it?" He said, "Well, yeah, I got one." I said, "What, in the nursery?" He goes, "No, maybe I'll put it by the front door so when people walk in, they can see that I'm indeed the father."

He was so happy today.

KING: Before we talk to Harvey, let's see a quick clip of your talk with Larry Birkhead.



POTTS: What will it be like tonight or tomorrow when you finally hold Dannielynn? When you look at her little eyes and she looks at you?

L. BIRKHEAD: It's just going to be like magic. You know, I didn't sleep at all last nice. I tossed and turned. And just having this weight off my shoulders and the fight that I've been through since long ago, it just means the world to me.

And then just to start the bonding process that I haven't been able to do, and try to play catch-up. You know? So I'm sure I will have many sleepless nights, but in a good way.


KING: Harvey Levin, is it over?

HARVEY LEVIN, TMZ.COM: No. Oh, It's definitely not.

KING: It ain't over?

LEVIN: It ain't over. And...

KING: Why not?

LEVIN: Boy, can I say something. Virgie Arthur is not going away. And I heard...

KING: Her attorney says...

LEVIN: I know what he said, but I'm not buying it, because...

KING: But what does she want?

LEVIN: Inside the courtroom today, she -- her lawyer was arguing custody. And even when they...

KING: How could she get custody if there's a legit father?

LEVIN: Because in the Bahamas, just being a biological father doesn't make it a slam-dunk. They still have to have this custody hearing. And in the Bahamas, grandmothers are revered and there's a whole thing. I think Larry is going to get custody but she's not going down without a fight here.

KING: But Larry seems to want to cooperate with her, so why not? She'll have visitation. She'll see her granddaughter. Why does she need custody?

LEVIN: I know he will give her that. But if she makes this really contentious and really tries to wrestle custody or create some kind of a guardianship, I don't think all will be well.

KING: Tony, you expect that?

POTTS: Yes, absolutely. In fact, I talked to Larry afterwards because her -- Virgie's attorney afterwards out here on these courthouse steps behind me said that they will try to look at joint custody, which is what I think Harvey was getting at as well. So I asked Larry about that. I said, "You know Virgie's attorney is saying that they might go after joint custody." He's like, "Well, I hope she doesn't do that." He said, "You know I'm opening his arms to her. She is the grandmother. If she shows it's in the best interest of Dannielynn, I will welcome her with open arms." I said, "Why can't you guys, if you could, just tell the attorney to go away, you and Virgie, forget about Texas and all these other people, just get in the room and talk one on one?" He said, "I'd love to do that" because he would like her to be a part of Dannielynn's life, Larry.

KING: Why, Harvey, do you think Howard K. Stern fought this as he did, carried it, lengthened it out so much? He had to know he wasn't the father, right?

LEVIN: Well, I think what Ron Rale said has some merit here, that there were discussions and those discussions were shut down by certain lawyers, and when that happened, they couldn't talk. They couldn't settle it.

I think what's interesting is that Stern finally said, you know after the appeal, he said, "Look, if you're the dad, I'm going to give up here." They started talking again last week. And I think ultimately when they talked; they realized they could both do what was in her best interest.

KING: Why do you think Larry's previous attorney prevented that?

LEVIN: You know I can't tell you why. A lot of this may have to do with control and part is just judgment, Larry, that maybe she didn't want her client negotiating with a lawyer. Larry Birkhead is not a lawyer, Howard K. Stern is. So I think you can make an argument either way, but ultimately Howard K. Stern contacted Larry Birkhead and said, "Look, I am not going to fight you if you're the dad." And it seemed to end up amicable. KING: But you knew it was him all along, right?


LEVIN: Oh, I didn't know.

KING: You knew.

LEVIN: I'm no Michael Baird.

KING: You knew.

Thanks, Tony Potts.

Thanks, Harvey Levin.

Up next, so many people are calling for the head of Don Imus over his remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team. You'll hear from the team's coach and captain when we come back.


DON IMUS, RADIO HOST, "IMUS IN THE MORNING": I can come back and hopefully serve the suspension with dignity and come back and create a dialogue. One of the things that we're going to do that we've been talking about for years...

MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, "TODAY SHOW": Quickly if you can, Don, I'm running out of time.

IMUS: There ought to be a black person on this show every single day to add some perspective.



KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.

America's been in an uproar for almost a week now over the racially charged remarks that radio superstar, Don Imus, made about the Rutgers University women's basketball team. Before you meet the team's captain and its coach, here's what Don said.


IMUS: So I watched the basketball game last night between a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women's final.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Tennessee won last night, seventh championship for Pat Summit. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.

IMUS: Some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some hard-core hos.

IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos there; I'm going to tell you that now.


KING: Rutgers's women's basketball team had an incredible season. They started 2-4 and wound up playing for the championship, beaten by a Tennessee team that almost never loses. However, the focus has been entirely different of late with the comments by Don Imus.

When you first heard them -- we welcome Coach Vivian Stringer, the women's basketball coach at Rutgers, and Essence, the team captain. When you first heard about them -- I don't know if you heard the show -- what did you think, coach?

VIVIAN STRINGER, COACH, RUTGERS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM: It was unbelievable. I was astonished, dismayed, angry, hurt, a lot of emotions. There were an awful lot of emotions that I went through.

KING: Essence Carson, the captain of the team, did you think this story would get as big as it's gotten?

ESSENCE CARSON, CAPTAIN, RUTGERS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM: Oh, no, not at all. This definitely did not cross my mind.

Coming home, you know, from the Final Four, my focus was really on, you know, the great season that we had. And with this, it just took away all of our joy. And we just thought that it would pass over, but at the same time we knew that we had to take a stand for something that we knew was right.

KING: Don Imus is suspended for two weeks. That starts Monday. On his radio show this morning, he did another apology, not directly to you, but I want you to hear it and then comment. Listen.


IMUS: I've said I was sorry. I'm going to apologize to these young women and their families and their coach if they'll see me. If they won't see me, there isn't anything I can do about that. I'm going to ask their forgiveness, but it's like the song I play all the time, you know, God may forgive you, they say, but I won't. Jesus may love you, but I don't. Well, you know, if they don't, then I guess I'm stuck with Jesus and I'll take my chances there.


KING: How do you react to that, coach?

STRINGER: I think that we have all heard the initial comments. And I hear what you're saying now. I also heard other things. But be that as it may, what we're looking to do is to look Mr. Imus in his face and to see if we can feel his heart. I have always been one that reads more from the heart.

KING: Essence, do you know when and where that meeting will take place? CARSON: Well, right now all we know is it will be in the near future but the location is undisclosed.

KING: Would you like it, Essence, to be on campus?

CARSON: Oh, I would love for it to be on campus. I would love for him to get a chance to see this university for what it is, to understand that we are students of this university and that we are far from the remarks that he made. And we would just like to get a chance to get to know the man behind the radio personality. And we would like for him to get to know the people that are behind the players.

KING: What's left, though, coach, for him to say? I mean what can he say differently from what he said?

STRINGER: Well, Larry, you know what, I think that in society, if you think about this, every time someone does something, they just say, "I'm sorry" And isn't this enough? I'm sorry is a deep thing. It must be felt.

And the question is, when you listen to this, if you have children, you know, you have a wife. This was offensive to women. I think that people keep missing in what has been said that this is a direct insult to all women. Women are not hos. We are precious, human individuals who should be treated with dignity and respect. That's what these young ladies deserve. Every man, woman and child should have been appalled at what was said.

To take it further and to speak of a race, black, white, purple, green yellow, everyone, you know, it should not have been needed that the Rutgers women's basketball team spoke. You, starting with you and everybody else should be angry. It is time that these things change. And it's not about -- see, I continue to believe, that it's not about black or white, it's about green. That's really what it's about, isn't it, Larry? It is.

KING: He brings a lot of money to the networks, yes, he does.

STRINGER: All right, but how important is a precious human life? That's the key, you know. So I can promise you this -- these young women are so much more and I love them and they will demonstrate what it means to be understanding, to be receptive...

KING: All right.

STRINGER: ...of the information. They will read his heart. That much you can be promised. But I would much rather see all of you all as adults make another statement and let's make something good come from this.

KING: Essence, how about -- on the other hand, all of the good that Don has done. He runs a cancer ranch for children, a horse ranch in the summer. He funded it. It's in New Mexico. A lot of black children go there. How about credit where credit is due? How do you feel about that? CARSON: Well, I've heard about this ranch and quite honestly, sometimes I think that people do things to cover themselves up. I mean I haven't gotten a chance to speak to Mr. Don Imus so I don't know him as a person. But all I know is the things that he has done over the past -- you know, in the past, over the past couple of years and the many people that he has made these remarks about, you know. And quite honestly, it's unfortunate we were put in the situation. But you know I'm sorry and an apology, excuse like it's a slip of the tongue, you know that's not enough at this point.

KING: Coach, what do you think of the two-week suspension?

STRINGER: I haven't had time to reflect on that as you would imagine. We've been bombarded with so many words and messages of support. I'm just much more concerned about my young ladies that they address -- we only have three weeks of school. Yesterday they spent all day addressing this issue when we've been on the road the vast majority -- throughout the vast majority of the last couple of weeks in route to the championship. So they've got grades.

By the way, this is an honor student group. These are scholar athletes, Dean's List students who have accomplished stellar feats. And so, we have spent way too much time addressing this issue. Let these young ladies go ahead and become the great students and the leaders that they will be.

I'm not going to make a judgment. I think that's unfair for me to talk about whether this is fair for two weeks or two years or a life sentence. You know fortunately, I think that we should all be happy at least these young people are willing to take some of their time to speak to Mr. Imus and defend themselves against that which they have no reason to do.

What is their recourse, as Mr. Imus said, they can keep their feelings and their apologies or whatever to themselves. But you know what let's recognize these young ladies are at least willing to meet him. We are all willing to meet him and we'll make that decision later. And I'm hoping that we get a very sincere effort and we feel Mr. Imus. And I think that that would be great. And I really am looking forward to seeing what every other adult feels and thinks about this.

KING: And Essence, how are the rest of your teammates dealing with it?

CARSON: I believe they're dealing with it the same way I am, really trying to distance themselves. But it's really hard when, like coach said, we're being bombarded with phone calls, emails and sometimes even cameramen, you know, following us around. But we're really just trying to stick together. This is a time that we're bonding. It's really, you know, key. We have to stick together and just pull each other through this, especially when we're in the public eye, as we are now.

KING: Coach, how many do you lose to graduation?

STRINGER: That's the point, Larry. We comprise of only 10 members. Five of them are freshmen.

Less than a year ago, these five young ladies set on their graduation risers to graduate from high school.

KING: How many do you graduate?

STRINGER: And right now, there -- none.

KING: None?

STRINGER: None. This entire team will be back. They're very young. That's the point.

KING: Quite a story and we'll continue with it in a moment.

Up ahead, the Civil Rights activist who wants Don Imus fired and CNN's always outspoken James Carville on how all of this plays into presidential politics when we come back.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.

Joining us now from New York, Reverend Al Sharpton, the activist and Civil Rights leader. Don Imus was a guest on Reverend Sharpton's radio show yesterday. Our friend James Carville, the CNN political analyst and democratic strategist, he's in Washington. And here in L.A. is Tamika Ray, correspondent for the news magazine show, "EXTRA."

We have heard from Reverend Sharpton, so I'll get to him in a minute.

Mr. Carville, what should happen? What do you make of all of this?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean first of all, I think it was an extraordinary performance by these young women on Rutgers basketball team this morning. And I think that they have graciously agreed to see Don Imus, as Reverend Sharpton did, and let Don make his case.

In defense of what he said, I cannot defend his speech, but I can say that the speaker is a man with a heart whose done a lot of really good things in his life. And he's going to have to go and explain to these young women and they're going to have to hear him out and we'll see what happens. But I thought that they have exams and something like this, the fact that they...

KING: Yes.

CARVILLE: ...agreed to see him was very gracious on their part.

KING: Tamika Ray, what do you make of it?

TAMIKA RAY, CORRESPONDENT, "EXTRA": Well, you know, I think it's really interesting. This morning on the "Today Show," he said, "I'm a good person." Yes, you might be good in some facets of your life, but if you across the board can say things out of hate, out of such deplorable...

KING: Do you know he said it was for humor?

RAY: It wasn't funny. And I think that's an interesting point. And I think for sure he heard this language somewhere, "nappy-headed hos." He doesn't even know what that means probably because it make no sense in the context of this situation. He heard it somewhere. He probably practiced it with his boys. He got big laughs. He did it on the radio, not so funny.

KING: Al Sharpton, you're a man of the cloth. Why would you want to see him lose his livelihood?

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I don't think he'll lose his livelihood. I think...

KING: But you want him to.

SHARPTON: I want him to be accountable. And I think that we must have the airwaves where we cannot have people make these kinds of statements and just go on like nothing happened and having access to the airwaves.

I've spent the last three or four years, and I've had this discussion with you on this show, questioning some people in my own community, in the music industry, who are calling women the "b" word and hos. So I mean why would have I have a less standard -- what credibility would I have to go back to gangster rappers if I would be silent in the face of this figure that so many prominent Americans go on his show and we don't have the courage to stand up for these girls that make all American proud and this coach who touched our hearts. I mean we've got to be consistent, Larry.

KING: Speaking of that, James Carville, if you're the political advisor to a candidate, any candidate, would you advise him not to go on Imus?

CARVILLE: Well, I mean, first of all, in my own instance, I have been on Don -- I've known him since 1992. I've been on there to promote my books. So with my own self-conscience, he's in trouble and he's in trouble for a good reason. But he is a friend of mine and I'm not going to run away from a friend at an hour of need.

KING: Well, how about a candidate though?

CARVILLE: Well, again, if that candidate has a history of being on this show and knows Imus and knows his heart and reconciles that, that would be one thing. If they hadn't had a prior relationship with him, I'd have to say, let's wait and see what these young women say. People like Reverend Sharpton -- I think Don has to keep an open dialogue with people like this. And you know this thing could get resolved as it goes on.

But right now I think that Don has to reach out. He is reaching out. I was delighted to see that he's going to meet with these young women. And I want to help him. I know he and his wife are in great pain that he said a terrible thing. A lot of friends of mine, Mike Wilbon, Clarence Page, people I respect enormously and Reverend Sharpton is a man I respect, they have very strong feelings about this. And I understand that. And Don understands and he has to understand that he has to address these feelings and his behavior has to change. There's no doubt about it.

If he does these things, sure, I would recommend candidates go on there. But he's got a little ways to go.

KING: What positives could come out of what some are calling the "iMess?" We'll ask Tamika Ray and James Carville and Al Sharpton when I come back.


IMUS: I think it's appropriate and I am going to try to serve it with some dignity and a lot of dignity if I can. I've had a long relationship, going back to 1971, with the people at NBC and a long relationship with CBS.

And when I talked with Phil Griffin last evening and he told me that he was -- that they were suspending me, I expressed to him how I felt about that and accepted it in the spirit in which it was rendered.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: By the way, the answer to last night's question was Nelson Mandela. If you know the answer tonight, go to to enter and good luck.

Tamika Ray, does the punishment fit the crime?

RAY: No, absolutely not. I think, you know, first of all, Don Imus didn't even know he did anything wrong. If you listen to the tape, he giggles like, aren't I so funny. I came up with a smart, funny line for my show. It wasn't until the advertisers started ringing in and Al Sharpton came to the table and said, "That's unacceptable" where he thought "Maybe I did something wrong."

And the whole apology thing, I agree with the young girl that you had on earlier. You can't just say, "Gosh, I was a jerk and I'm so sorry." We've heard it with Mel Gibson. We heard it with Isaiah Washington. We heard it with Michael Richards. It's a little insincere.

What really is going to fit the crime is lose money, work for four months unpaid. That'll fit the crime.

KING: Al Sharpton, can he ever make this up to you?

SHARPTON: It's not about me. It's about whether the airwaves are right. I think the good out of this though, Larry, if there's any good, is America saw today these young ladies that showed that there is some young ladies that became real champions inside and outside. If there ever was anyone to prove that what a lot of people are calling our women, black and white but particularly these young women, they're not -- they made us proud. If nothing else, I think they shine for America, and I agree with James Carville, and gracious enough to talk to someone that disparaged them. I don't think that we should ever, ever sleep on the fact we have some real heroes in America in them young ladies and their coach.

I told Reverend Deforest Soaries, a major pastor out there, they made us proud. It was worth standing up just to see them stand up today.

CARVILLE: You know I...

KING: James Carville?

CARVILLE: ...agree with Reverend Sharpton. And my great disappointment is I have two little girls, 11 and 8, and that they were in school when this press conference where I saw these young women at Rutgers. I would be very happy if they used to do like we were in school, Larry, you know, during the World Series, if they'd have turned it on and my daughters and other young women in America could have seen the way that this basketball team conducted itself. They also beat my LSU Tigers, but again, as a friend of Don Imus, I thank him for being as gracious enough to allow him to go and talk about ways that he can rectify what obviously was a horrendous thing that he said.

KING: And thank you all very much.

Good seeing you, Tamika.

Tamika Ray, Reverend Al Sharpton and James Carville, CNN's political analyst and democratic strategist.

Tune in tomorrow night when our guest is comedian turned Senate candidate Al Franken. So our text vote tonight, can a comedian make it in politics? Text your vote from your cell phone to CNNTV, which is 266688, text KINGA for yes, KINGB for no. And we'll reveal the results on tomorrow night's show.


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