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Letterman's Blackmail Bombshell; Kate Gosselin Fights Back

Aired October 5, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, David Letterman apologizes to staffers and his wife...


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: I got into the car this morning and the navigation lady wasn't speaking to me.


KING: Is there another side to the alleged blackmail tale?


GERALD SHARGEL, HALDERMAN'S ATTORNEY: I took forward to cross- examining David Letterman because I don't think that the full story is before the public.


KING: Plus President Barack Obama -- is he a punch line?


FRED ARMISEN, ACTOR: When you look at my record, it's very clear what I've done so far and that is nothing.


KING: Sliced and diced by "Saturday Night Live" -- did they go too far?

And then Kate breaks down in front of the world.




KING: They brawled over the kids, now it's their millions. It's her turn to lay into John, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

David Letterman is back on the job. He's already taped tonight's edition of "Late Night".

Here is a sneak peek.


LETTERMAN: Thank you very much.


LETTERMAN: Did -- did your weekend just fly by?


LETTERMAN: I mean...


LETTERMAN: I'll be honest with you folks. Right now, I would give anything to be hiking on the Appalachian Trail.


LETTERMAN: I got into the car this morning and the navigation lady wasn't speaking to me.



KING: CNN's Mary Snow has spoken to some who are at tonight's Letterman taping.

She's outside the "Late Night" studios on Broadway with the latest.

What -- what was the audience saying -- Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Larry, some of the fans we spoke with who went to that taping said that they found Letterman's announcement Thursday very awkward. They said today's was very different. And they said that it was serious at times when he issued that apology.

We have some of the excerpts of what he said. And he apologized to his staff, saying: "I'm terribly sorry that I put the staff in that position."

And then he went on to address his wife. And he said: "Now, the other thing is my wife Regina. She has been horribly hurt by my behavior. And when something happens like that, if you hurt a person, it's your responsibility. You try to fix it. And at that point there's only two things that can happen. Either you're going to make some progress and get it fixed or you're going to fall short and perhaps not get it fixed. So let me tell you folks, I've got my work cut out for me." And after that, you know, the audience members say that he continued to poke fun at himself.

But, Larry, this comes after last week, when Letterman said he did not expect to have anything more to say about this.

KING: Well, one would assume the audience attending "The Letterman Show" are big fans.

Did you run into anyone critical of -- anyone critical of him?

SNOW: Yes, we talked to several females in the audience who said, you know, they don't condone his behavior, they don't accept it. But they say they are still fans and that he's a comedian, that they still wanted to go and see the show. Some women said that they would view him differently, that they had issues with what had happened, but they did feel -- some others felt that this was a private matter and that it would not interfere with them watching the show.

KING: That's Mary Snow on the scene in front of "The Late Show" theater.

Joining us now, our panel to discuss all this, here in Los Angeles, Judge Greg Mathis, who presides over his own syndicated TV court show.

And Dr. Drew Pinsky, the host of VH1's "Celebrity Rehab" and the author of "The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism is Seducing America."

In New York is Richard Zoglin, the editor of "Time" magazine, author of "Comedy At the Edge: How Standup in the 1970s Changed America." There you see its cover. He, by the way, has interviewed David Letterman several times.

And in Atlanta, Jane Velez-Mitchell, the host of HLN's "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell" and author of "I Want: My Journey from Addiction and Over Consumption to a Simpler, Honest Life."

First on the criminal questions, Judge Mathis, extortion means?

JUDGE GREG MATHIS, HOST, "JUDGE MATHIS": Extortion is extracting some type of property or money through the means of coercion. And what we've seen is him being charged with grand larceny. I haven't heard extortion. That's kind -- kind of curious to me.

KING: Can it still be coercion if the story is true?

In other words, if you did do something...

MATHIS: Absolutely.

KING: ...and I say, I'm going to tell people what you did if you don't.

MATHIS: Absolutely. The whole issue is extracting something through coercion. Whether it's true or not, you've gotten it because you've coerced someone. KING: Can it sometimes be difficult to prove, in that the defendant can say, hay, I gave him a script and he gave me money for it?

MATHIS: Well, the intent of giving the script is where we'd go. But I still can't see why they didn't charge both grand larceny and extortion. And I'm just not certain of that.

KING: Richard in New York, you've interviewed him several times.


KING: You've written a book about standup comedy.

Are you su -- are you surprised by all this?

ZOGLIN: A little bit surprised. David, of course, is a very private person. But it's -- it's not surprising in the sense that over the years, what's made David Letterman a fascinating TV personality is how he's -- he's allowed us these little peeks into his private life and he's become a more human sort of person, not Mr. Irony, as he started out to be.

But I think starting with the heart operation; then after 9/11, how sincere he was about talking about going back on the air; and then having a son. And -- and I think that this is just another peek inside the real David Letterman. And it's making him kind of even more fascinating than before.

KING: Dr. Pinsky, though, do you get what you -- what you deliver?

He -- he constant -- he would be having a field day if this...


KING: Supposing this was Larry King.

PINSKY: Then you'd be hearing about it.

KING: OK. So he can't really say, I don't deserve this, right?

PINSKY: No. He seems to be, as he would say, taking it like a man. My concern is, though, that we -- all the rest of us -- I mean David has been humanized. David has made a mistake. We're sort of prone to forgive David.

But the rest of us having this conversation about a misappropriation of power or even an appropriate use of a relationship. He may get off. They may have no liabilities there. I don't know. Maybe there will be. But the fact is these are really serious things and we don't discuss this enough in our culture, the issue of if I, as a physician, misappropriate my power with a patient, a student with a teacher, a boss with an employee. This is one of those situations. And they're quite serious. It's -- it's no laughing matter.

KING: Jane, I want to play a clip for you and then get your thoughts. There's nothing like a celebrity sex scandal to get others commenting.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, I would hate to be on opposite Letterman tonight with all that sex stuff going on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's got to be tough.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was reported that the blackmailer, Joe Halderman, was threatening to reveal embarrassing details of Letterman's personal life. For example, after sex, he would always say, "Stay tuned for Craig Ferguson."



JAY LENO, HOST: If you came here tonight for sex with a talk show host, you've got the wrong studio. (INAUDIBLE).

I mean what is going on?

Boy, first Conan hit his head, then somebody tries to extort money from Letterman. I am so glad I'm out of late night. Oh, hey.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a new book out called, "Why Women Have Sex," that has a list of 237 reasons why women have sex. And Letterman knows the top 10.


KING: Jane will join us in a little while.

Does the Letterman scandal change your opinion of him?

That's tonight's Quick Vote question. Go to and cast a ballot.

We're back with our guests after the break.


KING: We're back.

The man accused of the alleged blackmail scheme against Letterman is Joe Halderman, a producer from CBS' true crime program, "48 Hours." He's pled not guilty to one charge of attempted first degree grand larceny.

Historney -- his attorney, by the way, had this to say this morning on "The Today Show."


SHARGEL: David Letterman didn't give his side of the story. David Letterman gave what he wanted the public to know. He wanted to get out ahead of the story and that's exactly what he did. He's a master of manipulating audiences. That's what he does for a living. So to think that David Letterman gave the entire story and there's nothing more to be said is simply wrong.


KING: Judge Ma -- Judge Mathis, that's the lawyer who got John Gotti not guilty. He can be pretty tough in court and Letterman will have to go to court.

MATHIS: Yes. The things he's saying make sense. First of all, I heard him also say this morning that there's -- everything hasn't been said and comparing that to what Letterman said earlier, when he said, "I did some creepy things."

That's a -- that's a big difference. So, "creepy things," what's the definition of that?

Maybe there are some other things we haven't heard of.

KING: And he would have to be a witness, Letterman?

MATHIS: Absolutely.


MATHIS: Oh, yes.

KING: He's the aggrieved.

MATHIS: He's the -- right. Correct. He's the complainant.

KING: Now, Richard, did the -- the overall concept here, do you -- the -- the -- there's a lady in "The New York Post" today with a big headline story that he should be fired.

What do you think is going to be the result on his career?

ZOGLIN: I actually do not think it's going to hurt his -- his show, his career, you know, barring any other revelations that I don't know about. But just looking -- you know, David has been an incredibly popular figure and I think he's -- he's gotten more popular as he's revealed more of himself.

And the fact is that, you know, Dave -- unlike many of the politicians that David makes fun of, he never put himself on a pedestal. He makes fun of hypocrisy and pretension. Dave has always made fun of himself -- has always put himself down. And I think getting laughs out of this, that's what a comedian does. He did it very well. It was a great performance the other night, Thursday night. And I call it a performance not in a derogatory way.

I think that standup comedians, over the years, from Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce on down, have taken pain and turned it into comedy. And Dave did that in -- in an amazing way. And I think audiences respond to him as a comedian and as a human being.

KING: Might it have been, though, at the expense of these interns who are, in many cases, being looked at as aggrieved?

ZOGLIN: That could be. That's not something that I, you know, really know anything about. I look him at -- at him as -- as an entertainer and as somebody who reveals, you know, a part of himself on TV. He certainly doesn't reveal all of it.

And there's a lot that -- that David Letterman keeps private. That's one of the things that makes him, you know, very interesting, because he's not one of these celebrities that you see out on the social scene. You almost never see glimpses of David Letterman's private life. You only get what he wants to tell you. But I accept that because that's what a TV performer does.

KING: Dr. Drew, you said you're concerned about the casual way the story is being treated, that there are serious issues here of behavior and boundaries.

PINSKY: Right. Exactly.

KING: Elaborate.

PINSKY: I mean what you're saying about the young interns being aggrieved, the reality is that the rules that are in place to protect the employees are there for a reason, because these power imbalances can harm the person who is at the lower level of the spe -- of the ladder. The fact is positions of power carry responsibility. And those responsibilities include taking care of the people, maintaining boundaries with those people that are -- that you are employing or that are, perhaps, in a position of power beneath you.

KING: There's the -- by -- I hate to get personal, but supposing I were to say to an intern, do you want to have dinner?

PINSKY: Yes. KING: In some circles, that's immediately seen as harassment.

PINSKY: That's right.


KING: What does she -- what does she do?

PINSKY: Or a means for -- or grounds for termination.

KING: Yes.

PINSKY: I mean, you know, the -- the question is, you know, what of -- what is the culture like of that institution?

I mean the reality is -- look, the reality is that these people are working incredibly long hours. They're socializing with one another. They're not going to meet anybody else outside of their social circles. So it's understandable that romantic liaisons develop.

The problem is the issue of how the people in power deal with that.

KING: Jane, how do you, as a woman and a host, Jane Velez- Mitchell finally joins us. We've stand out our connection to Atlanta.

How do you recent to this?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, HLN'S "ISSUES": Well, I think this all came out in the context of an alleged blackmail scheme, not in the context of a complaint by a woman. Had it come out in the context of a complaint by a woman, we could be talking about a civil lawsuit alleging violation of Title VII, the federal law that prohibits harassment and discrimination based on many things, including sex.

The fact is that reports are that it's a very female-friendly place to work, "The David Letterman Show." So there are no complaints coming from the female staffers.

But what troubles me is this pattern. David Letterman does seem to go to the well repeatedly for his personal relationships. His wife is someone that used to work on the show. Then there is a very well- known affair with a writer at one point. And then there's an intern who says that she was madly in love with him and one other person. And that's what we know about. There could be others.

And so I think from -- from a psychological standpoint, you've got to wonder about that, why does this powerful man constantly go back to the well for his relationships when he's meeting the most beautiful women in the world who are coming on his show and some of the biggest actresses and models, etc.?

You've got to wonder about it psychologically. And, also, I think, for those women who are on the sidelines who haven't had a relationship and see that, well, the girl he had an affair with is getting on TV all the time and is making the -- the big money for being on TV, that's got to sting. And maybe she feels like, hey, I would do better had I be -- had I slept with him.

KING: If -- if the very private Letterman had to testify, what public headaches could he cause for the women involved?

Back in 60 seconds.


KING: Over the years, there have been a lot of Letterman punch lines aimed at high profile people fooling around.

Here's some samples.


LETTERMAN: One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game, during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.




LETTERMAN: And the toughest part of her visit was keeping Eliot Spitzer away from her daughter. That was the hard part.


LETTERMAN: That was...


LETTERMAN: That was...




LETTERMAN: And the number one Governor Mark Sanford excuse, it wasn't me it was my alter ego, Bruno.



LETTERMAN: Bill Clinton spoke at the convention. And what a great speech. What a tremendous speech. He got four standing ovations and five phone numbers. It was just...



KING: By the way, there's a great Q&A with Judge Mathis about the Letterman case on our blog. To read it, go to

Does the late night scandal have legs?

That's after the break.


KING: When Letterman dropped his bombshell announcement on the show last Thursday, he used an interesting adjective to describe his behavior.



LETTERMAN: Now, of course, we get to what was it, what was all the creepy stuff that he was going to put into the -- the screenplay and -- and the movie. And the creepy stuff was that I have had sex with women who work for me on this show. Now, my response to that is yes, I have.



KING: Why -- why did the audience laugh, Dr. Pinsky, at that?

PINSKY: Well, I mean, Dave is always kind of seen as the cool guy and...

KING: But he wasn't telling that as a joke.

PINSKY: Yes and I thought they -- I think they were kind of confused and they thought it was a joke and he was sort of, you know, poking fun at himself. And they were sort of going along with it. He was quite serious about it.

KING: The other woman apparently involved here, Judge Mathis, is the woman who lived with Letterman and -- or had an affair with Letterman and then lived with the guy who Letterman's accusing.

Do you think that comes up at a trial?

MATHIS: Yes, absolutely. It's going to come up with issues, such as motive. Perhaps the -- Halderman was upset with Dave regarding something.

KING: Or Dave was upset with him? MATHIS: Correct. And so they could say that was the motive. Perhaps that could be a defense, is that he really wasn't trying to extort him, he was trying to hurt him. He was trying to get back at him for something he's done to the girl.

KING: Jane, could this become -- does it have legs and could it become a woman's issue?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely, because there's a diary involved, there's e-mails involved. And as this comes out, I think the devil really is in the details. We've heard about sex, but within that context -- within that category, there's a whole bunch of potential for some salacious details.

What kind of sex?

What exactly is described in the diary?

What exactly is referred to in those e-mails?

And I think that if these details are particularly salacious and they're leaked, that could be a big story.

KING: Dr. Drew, will "The New York Post" be the only one staying on this?

Because they're -- they're out to get him, it would appear.

PINSKY: Well, I hope they're not out to get him.


KING: What else does it look like?

PINSKY: Yes, I know. And I'm sure they (INAUDIBLE) yes. Well, they -- they want to sell newspapers, is what it looks like.

But the reality is, you know, Jane had said something about this being a clement environment for young women and stuff. And the reality is that it doesn't matter if these women were consenting. It doesn't matter if they perceived this as something they wanted to participate in. The fact that you -- you're describing a culture where sex and those sorts of interpersonal issues are a means to advance, they are a means to manipulate and that is not healthy.

And, really, I have to worry about all of us looking at these issues and saying, well, these young ladies, they -- they had no complaints about this. The fact is, again, it's about the health of a workplace environment, civil liabilities and the fact that power is being misappropriated.

Do you agree, judge?

MATHIS: Yes. I agree with Mr. Pinsky. We were discussing off the air, a lot of the other young ladies who were passed over could claim that they were passed over because they wouldn't have sex with him or they were at a disadvantage, in which case he could sue for discrimination.

KING: Now, he works for World -- he with Worldwide Pants, Jane, not CBS.

They have the contract, right?

The president...


KING: The president of CBS had a relationship with the newscaster and eventually married her.


KING: I mean could that get entangled in this?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It could because, obviously, that's a great defense. It's -- well, hey, look, the president of CBS has a relationship with one of its anchors. People do fall in love in the workplace. And I think it's unrealistic to assume that that's not going to happen. Even Dr. Drew mentioned that most people fare in the workplace 24/7, especially in this business. And that's where they're going to meet other people.

I think the question is whether it's a pattern and whether there are women who perceive themselves as passed over because they did not have a relationship.

I agree with you, Dr. Drew. All I'm saying is no woman has come forward and made that claim. And maybe they're intimidated. Maybe they will. Maybe they'll see what's going on and say, hey, this is my time to file a -- a suit on this.

So I don't think this story is over, not by a long shot.

KING: Does cable TV add to this, Dr. Pinsky by, frankly, staying on it?

PINSKY: Are we contributing right now?

KING: Correct.

PINSKY: Well, we have

KING: Aren't we?

PINSKY: Yes. There's no doubt we're contributing to it. But I -- but for me, the reason I wanted to talk about this subject is for the very reason I keep chanting here, which is that we have a problem in our country where parents take advantage of children, teachers take advantage of students. And -- and I think it's an important conversation to have.

I -- I feel bad about for David Letterman. I don't know what's going on in that culture or what happened to him, but this conversation needs to be kept alive.

KING: We'll be back with more on this, I'm sure, in the days ahead.

And on another subject later, when Dr. Pinsky will return.

Barack Obama and the media -- is the honeymoon over?

"Saturday Night Live" skewered the president over the weekend.

Is it a sign of tough times to come?

That's next.


KING: "Saturday Night Live" poked fun of President Obama's accomplishments -- or lack of them this weekend.

Let's look at part of the skit starring Fred Armisen.


ARMISEN: If you look at my record, it's very clear what I've done so far -- and that is nothing.


ARMISEN: Do you think I'm making it up?

Take a look at this checklist. Now, on my first day in office...


ARMISEN: On my first day in office, I said I'd close Guantanamo Bay.

Is it closed yet?



ARMISEN: I said we'd be out of Iraq.

Are we?

Not the last time I checked.


ARMISEN: I said I'd make improvements in the war in Afghanistan.

Is it better?

No. I think, it's actually worse.



KING: Joining us in Las Vegas, Penn Jillette, the illusionist, author and libertarian, the taller, more talkative of the Penn & Teller Group, one of the funniest acts in the business. Their show, "B.S." Picked up for an eighth season by Showtime.

And here in L.A. Another of our favorite people, Stephanie Miller, the comedian and talk radio talk show host of "The Stephanie Miller Show."

Is the honeymoon over for the president, Penn?

PENN JILETTE, ILLUSIONIST: Well, I don't know. I mean the "Saturday Night Live" sketch seems to be just straightforward reporting. I mean he really hasn't accomplished a lot of the stuff people hoped he would, for whatever reason. You know, I'm in an odd position, because I was against Bush on so many things and I'm against Obama on the exact same things. I'd like there to be less war. I'd like there to be more rights. I wish he would work at getting the Patriot Act gone or at least limited much more.

So it's very weird that a lot of people are supporting him, even though he's doing a lot of the bad stuff, at least from my point of view, that Bush was doing.

KING: OK. Stephanie, "Saturday Night Live," for some reason, generally regarded as political, as liberal politically. What do you make of this?

MILLER: I don't think they're liberal, Larry. I think they're equal opportunity. I think Penn didn't like Bush or Obama because he clearly hates America.

JILLETTE: Well, no. But OK.

MILLER: I mean --

KING: Hold on, Penn. She's kidding.

MILLER: Penn is a great comedian. To me, Larry, this sketch missed the mark, because most great comedy is based in truth. I'm like, are you kidding me? Eight months in, did you really think we were going to be out of Iraq, out of Afghanistan? He will get health care done. And he will close Guantanamo. We all know these are all really complex issues.

KING: But it's a fair comedy skit, isn't it? If you're going to make fun of someone --

MILLER: I don't think so. Larry, this America. Apparently, we want our erection pills to work immediately, even if it lasts four hours and you have to see your doctor. It has to work right away. JILLETTE: I agree with that.

MILLER: -- had the worse national security disaster in our history. Obama has kept us safer longer than Bush has.

JILLETTE: KING: Penn, as a comedian, was it funny?

JILLETTE: I don't think it is their best sketch. I would agree with Stephanie on that. It's just that "Saturday Night Live" does seem a little bit liberal to me. It seems there is a little bit of delusionment with Obama.

Then again, the hopes were so high for Obama. The word hope was used so much that I think, no matter what he did, there was going to be some disappointment. And the fact he wants to do some stuff I disagree with -- he is certainly a great man. And it's nice to have someone articulate and pleasant and -- in the White House. The fact I disagree with a lot of the stuff -- you know, I wish he were doing more for liberty, and I wish he were rolling back some of those things. I wish Guantanamo Bay could have been closed sooner, and all that stuff. But I hope she's right.

KING: Hold it. Let's take a look at some more of the skit. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, I just don't see why the right is so riled up. How do you think the left feels? They're the ones that should be mad. Now, I'm sure they thought I would have addressed at least one of the following things by now. Global warming, nope. Immigration reform, nope. Gays in the military, nuh-uh. Limits on executive powers, nope. Torture prosecutions, nope.

So looking at this list, I'm seeing two big accomplishments, Jack and squat.


KING: Is the right wing going to jump on this, Stephanie?

MILLER: Of course they are. They're cheering that we didn't get the Olympics, Larry.

KING: Really?

MILLER: In the offices of the "Weekly Standard," on Rush Limbaugh's show, they're cheering that America lost the Olympics. They've made it pretty clear, Larry, they just want the president to fail. Of course they're cheering this sketch. Frankly, as someone from the left, I'm willing to wait.

I want him to do something on gays in the military. I think he will. I want him to close Guantanamo. I think he will. I think health care is a big, big piece that he said he is going to get done. I think he will. I think that's first. KING: Penn, do you think it stung Obama?

JILLETTE: I think that saying that -- I think either everything hurts a president that is said bad or nothing hurts. I think you have to be -- He's president of the United States. He's not supposed to be worried too much about what "Saturday Night Live" says. So I'd like to think he's above that.

But it is, for his advisers and so on -- I think it is a bad sign. "Saturday Night Live" has really been kind of Obama a lot. It's kind of bad that they are losing a little bit of their hope with him.

KING: The White House has not responded to the skit. Should it? That's next. Stick around.


KING: We're with Penn Jillette and Stephanie Miller. Stephanie, should the White House in any way respond?

MILLER: I don't think so, Larry. If a president doesn't respond to a Congressman screaming "you lie" at him during the State of the Union (sic), I don't think he can respond to everything. I think he is really trying to get done what he said he was going to get done for the American people.

You can't get distracted by this stuff. That's "Saturday Night Live's" job, is to make fun of politicians.

KING: One more excerpt from this weekend's "Saturday Night Live" parody. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I even went personally to try to bring the Olympics to Chicago in 2016. It didn't work out. But in this case, there's some good news with the bad. For every person who buys an American car in the next six months, you're going to get one of these.


KING: That worked, didn't it, Penn?

JILLETTE: Yes. I think that's OK. I don't think it's a big deal that Obama failed to get the Olympics. But I don't think it was part of his job to try to get the Olympics. I think that one of the problems is the presidential power has gotten too great, and he's supposed to be in charge of everything. It's supposed to be a smaller job than that.

I don't know why he's lobbying for the Olympics in Chicago. And I wish he had -- I wish the whole Executive Branch had less power, back, you know, 100 years ago.

KING: Stephanie? MILLER: Come on. Come on. Every head of state went to lobby for the Olympics. As you know, Tony Blair went for London the last time around. Putin went. The fact that you had Rush Limbaugh literally saying we're being governed by an imbecile, he's a blithering idiot.

JILLETTE: He's not.

KING: You are kidding? Wait a minute, Limbaugh said that? Are you quoting him? You've got to be kidding.

MILLER: We played it on our show today.

KING: You've got to be kidding.

MILLER: No. I'm not kidding. It's that kind of openly rooting for America to fail, so that it can be construed as Obama failing, that I just we don't recognize in America.

JILLETTE: Anybody that calls Obama is an idiot is just wrong. You can disagree with someone -- and one of my big problems is you're allowed to disagree --

MILLER: You're a brilliant magician. Can you make Rush Limbaugh disappear? If you could, I think we'd all be a lot better off.

JILLETTE: I can only use my powers for evil. That's the deal I made with Satan. So no, I can't.

KING: Is he going to start to make things happen? Has he dwelt too much -- not saying it's not important then -- on the health care issue too much?

JILLETTE: Health care is the most important issue. He's decided to make it the most important. He's using all his energy to kind of do that. And I don't know. I mean, I would like, as I said, for the president to have less power. I don't think that health care is the government's job. And I know that you disagree with me very strongly on that.

But, I mean, Barack Obama's making the strongest arguments possible on that case. I just wish he'd lay out more of what the bill was supposed to be.

KING: Stephanie, on Afghanistan, he's got the general in charge saying more troops. He has his national security adviser, former general, saying bring them home. What does he do with that bouncing ball?

MILLER: Well, to me, Larry, this is another giant, flaming sack of political dog poo that the Bush administration has left on Obama's door. It's not an easy situation, as anybody can tell you. By what you just said, I think this is very difficult.

I, for one, like a commander in chief that's going to take a second to think through the most important decision a commander in chief makes. That is sending American troops into harm's way. I like that he's thinking through the strategy. What is our strategy in Afghanistan?

KING: Will he resemble Truman, like firing MacArthur?

MILLER: I don't know. But I don't think that the generals should be discussing strategy in the media before they discuss it with the commander in chief. So I'm not sure what's going on. But I trust him on what his decisions will be.

KING: Penn, do you?

JILLETTE: I do not. I wish it were put in front of Congress. I wish we were going to go to war, we would actually go to war. And doing these halfway wars seems like a really good way to get a lot of people killed. We should either decide we're at war or we should not be at war. The idea of the president sending troops or not sending troops seems to me just like Vietnam. You either get out or you win.

MILLER: He blanked me on the left. Damn.

KING: Penn Jillette and Stephanie Miller -- Ooh! Kate Gosselin's tears; we have the latest on what made her cry. Did Jon take the money and run? Back in 60 seconds.


KING: New developments in the Gosselin divorce battle tonight. Kate is now publicly accusing Jon of illegally withdrawing nearly a quarter of a million dollars from their joint bank account. Jon denies it, calling Kate's claims a total fabrication. An emotional Kate described her money woes this morning on "The Today Show." Watch.


KATE GOSSELIN, "KATE PLUS EIGHT": The last thing I wanted was to do this show and end up not being able to pay my bills. So I put money aside, willingly brought it forward and split it with him when we had our meeting. He took the 50,000 and did whatever with it. I paid bills with my 50,000.

Once the court arbitrator stepped in, I felt like the money -- I had to put it back. I didn't feel like it would be safe, to be honest. And he took 230,000 of the 231,000 that we have liquid. And I have a stack of bills in my purse I can't drop in the mail.


KING: Can this divorce go any lower? and who wins the dirty laundry when it's aired in public? We'll ask our experts after the break.


(NEWS BREAK) KING: Let's meet our panel. Returning, Judge Greg Mathis and Dr. Drew Pinsky. And joining us, Neal Hersh, celebrity divorce and family law attorney. His clients include Denise Richards, who fought to have her children with ex-husband Charlie Sheen allowed to appear on her reality TV show. And Mark Vincent Kaplan, celebrity divorce and family law attorney. His clients include Kevin Federline, the ex- husband of Britney Spears.

Is this thing going to go nuclear, judge, or is it already nuclear?

MATHIS: Well, I think it's already nuclear and it may go even further.

KING: Each of the Gosselins have done solo TV interviews in recent days. Before we play a clip, what's your reaction to Kate firing back today, doctor?

PINSKY: I have a real soft spot for Kate. I think the tears we saw are genuine. I'm a triplet father. I don't have super multiples. But I have above twins. I understand how stressful it is.

I must tell you, as a father of multiples, your job is to support your wife, the mother of the children. That is your job. If you fail at that job, you have failed. You cannot imagine -- I mean, the monumental stress that a super multiple mom is under is spectacular. And the dad's job is to support that. It may be unpleasant, but you're supporting that.

KING: In addition to everything else, the Gosselins are at odds whether or not it's a positive thing for the children to be on a reality show. Watch two of the clips.


JON GOSSELIN, HUSBAND OF KATE GOSSELIN: I need to be a father. I need to be a father and I need to take my kids off the show.

My kids have voiced their opinions, too. It was on the shoot a couple months ago. It was 96 degrees outside. We were shooting outside with the kids. It was my custody day, my shoot. My kids went inside the house, put their bathing suits on and went in the pool. Shot over.

What am I supposed to do? I went down to the pool and watched them. I said, I can't do anything about it.

K. GOSSELIN: The kids have -- over the weekend, I told them we're not filming at this point, and actually, times eight, there was wailing and sobbing. They love our crew. They love the interaction. They love the events. There is nothing harmful about it. They are angry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When he says the kids have said to him they want the filming to stop, your response to that?

K. GOSSELIN: I'm sorry. I'm not present all the time. But it has never happened, not the response I saw this weekend.


KING: Neal, Hersh, I understand you're supportive of Kate in this. Is that correct?

NEAL HERSH, CELEBRITY DIVORCE ATTORNEY: I am. I think the show has been on for years, and he has endorsed the show, participated in it and has been on the show, obviously. And by coincidence, now that he's not going to be featured in the show, he's decided that it's not in the children's best interest.

It seems to me very suspect. I don't think it's reality based.

KING: You would like to be representing her?

HERSH: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: She has a good case?

HERSH: I think she has a great case.

KING: I understand, Vincent -- Mark Vincent Kaplan, you're on the other side?

MARK VINCENT KAPLAN, CELEBRITY DIVORCE ATTORNEY: Well, I think that, first of all, if it's really true that the children were distressed because they weren't going to be in the program, that would raise a set of concerns for me that I find very distressing. They shouldn't have that ingrained in how they relate to whether or not their life is OK or not. They're way too young to have that kind of reaction to not be in front of the camera. That's very distressful.

KING: You think they should not be on?

KAPLAN: I think if it's accurate, what she said -- they broke down because they weren't going to be on the program. And what he said, they said they didn't want to be on. I think both of those have to be resolved at least with a question: is this really in the children's best interest to continue? What happens during hiatus? Do they have to go into therapy? This is ridiculous.

KING: Dr. Drew?

PINSKY: I would just say that, again, as a multiple father, you need all hands on deck. To have multiple people there to help you out is an asset.


PINSKY: I don't think the kids would know whether they're on TV or not. All they know is they've got people around that are showing them fun things. The issue I would say is it a consistent staff? And do they have good relationships with those people?

MATHIS: The legal issue is whether the parent who has authority at that time, whoever has custody at that time, can allow their child that sort of activity? And the law is that they can, as long as it doesn't harm their health and welfare.

So he has no input at this juncture. He can take her to court and try and do that.

KING: Neal, I know you support her. But do you like the idea of little kids being on the TV?

HERSH: Look, I think what Drew said is important. They decided to put these kids on TV to earn money. And that was their livelihood. The legal standard is what's in the best interest of the kids. If these kids are being properly protected, with staff on the show that's consistent and been there for years, if this is a really safe environment for the kids, as it appears to have been all these years, then why can't this woman support her children in a sufficient way?

KING: Mark?

KAPLAN: Well, I think that the question is why are they having this kind of reaction? I think it's totally OK. I agree with what has been said. It was OK when Jon was on the show. All of a sudden, he's recognized -- he had some sort of epiphany, a child-centered epiphany, this actually isn't good for my kids. That's somewhat suspicious.

I think her reaction is suspicious as well. I think at some point, sooner than later, hopefully sooner, someone is going to be appointed to take an objective look at this, to see where the truth lies.

KING: A plague on both their houses. What does our fascination with the Gosselins say about us? That's next.


KING: No one deals more with human emotions than divorce lawyers. Why, Neil, are so involved with them? Who cares? Why are we involved with this story?

HERSH: Look, people are interested in celebrities.

KING: But they're not celebrities until we make them celebrities.

HERSH: Yes. Well, they have a show and they're on. They have now become celebrities. When something goes wrong, the media loves to see it.

From a lawyer's standpoint, it is a really serious question. What's in the best interest of these kids.

KING: Aren't they the only thing that counts here?

HERSH: That's it. We don't care, as lawyers, if it's a celebrity or non-celebrity. Although, our work is different when we're on the show talking about celebrities or not. But the legal issues remain the same.

KING: Mark, why are we fascinated by it?

KAPLAN: Well, by them becoming celebrities and being so similar to the mass media that -- the mass public, it makes everyone else's life as if they are celebrities, too. I think that's why. It's always nice to see someone doing the same thing, only worse than you are. I think that's why everyone is fascinated.

KING: What is the effect, doctor, on the kids growing up?

PINSKY: Hard to say. Listen, what is it an affect to have eight kids around, be a sextuplet? We just don't know. Again, having more manpower, more adults around may make them feel more contained, more safe.

I have to follow up on something you said though. It's really about us, isn't it, why we're fascinated with these people. I think there are two things. I think PT Barnum would be proud of us today.

KING: Sucker born every minute.

PINSKY: still think -- the freak stuff, we're still into that. We seem to be more interested in mental health freaks, more than anything. That's not what is going on here. I wrote a book about this very fact, which is we love to tear people down. We love to elevate them, and tear them down. That's our narcissism at work.

MATHIS: Well, I think that it's the new royalty here in America. England has Queen Elizabeth. We have Kate Gosselin.

KING: Judge, though, is this the kind of case -- let's say we're in this trial -- that a judge hates?

MATHIS: Absolutely, because the children are in the middle. We heard Kate today put them smack in the middle. She said Jon did it first. Who knows? But this is the type of case judges hate.

KING: The great, late Louis Nyser (ph), great lawyer who I knew very well, said that he stopped doing divorce cases because the hatred in a divorce case is worse than the victim -- the wife of the victim in a murder case. The hatred is worse in divorce.

HERSH: The adage is in criminal law, you see the very worst people acting their very best; in divorces, you see the very best people acting at their very worst. It is true in large part. But the issues of resolving these things for the family are very important. And the work that we do to help people get through this process is very, very important.

KING: How does the lawyer deal with the emotional aspect of this, Mark?

KAPLAN: Well, you have to -- a good lawyer doesn't automatically adopt the emotional agenda of a client. You have to be removed from that. You have to be a psychologist to be a good lawyer, especially a divorce lawyer. I think the way you deal with that is to step back from that and never be afraid to tell your client that you understand the sincerity of what they're doing, but you have to step back and be objective and say that's not consistent with what they need to do for their children.

KING: Do you think it's harder, Drew, when it's public?

PINSKY: Oh, of course. It's got to be very painful for them. Listen, I hope everyone who is watching this has deep empathy for both players here. I mean, these people are all suffering. And, of course, as we have said multiple times, the children are the ones that really suffer the most in all of this.

I have to tell you again, the one thing that a multiple mom needs is a supportive partner.

KING: Does TLC bear any responsibility, the show that produces it?

PINSKY: I have known Eileen O'Neil (ph) for years. She is the president of TLC. I used to do stuff for Discovery Health Channel for her. She is an extremely careful, ethical person. I know she is feeling every molecule of this.

KING: Do you think there is a question, judge, about reality shows in and of themselves?

MATHIS: Well, of course. The question is how produceable are they and how much production went into it, the coaching and et cetera, et cetera, and the risk involved and the liability thereto.

KING: They're only profitable because they're cheap, right?

MATHIS: Absolutely. Very profitable. And very sensational.

KING: What do you think, quickly, Neal, how this is going to wind up?

HERSH: Somebody's going to go to court, she to allow the kids to be on the show or him to stop it. I think she is going to prevail. The kids will be on the show.

KING: Mark?

HERSH: I agree with Neal on that. I think that, however, there's going to be a little further scrutiny and step back from this, because the most distressing thing -- if they're both telling the truth, the most distressing thing is the children are having a reaction to not being in show business. And always the crew is going to be gone at some time. So it doesn't matter that they're not on the show for a day. The crew is going to be gone. What's going to happen to their adjustment when that show is not there?

KING: Judge Greg Mathis, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Neal Hersh and Mark Vincent Kaplan, thanks to you all. Another edition of LARRY KING LIVE is in the books. Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?