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Ann Coulter vs. Al Sharpton; Oprah's Show Ending in 18 Months

Aired November 23, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, let's get ready to rumble -- Ann Coulter versus Al Sharpton.

Can they and the country come together on health care?

And President Obama's approval rating and what does the drop really mean?

And then Oprah's best friend, Gayle King, will tell us why Lady O.

Is really leaving her syndicated show. Oprah regular, Suze Orman, is here, too, to tell us if the queen of all media is making the right decision.

All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Lots of things to discuss with Ann Coulter, the syndicated columnist and conservative commentator, "New York Times" best-selling author. Her most recent book is "Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America."

And in Atlanta, Reverend Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader, president and founder of the National Action Network. He, by the way, is in Atlanta as part of NAN's National Day of Outrage, advocating for an end to gun and gang violence.

OK, Ann, the Senate is set to move forward on the debate on health care.

As a conservative, do you agree that there are problems and that the health care system needs change?

ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Yes, mostly caused by government intervention. For one thing, two -- two main problems with government intervention, one is going back to World War II, when FDR imposed wage and price controls, employers started providing health care for employees. They couldn't offer their employees higher salaries, so, instead, they offered them health care. Because of that, it's very hard. And now there is a tax deduction now in law. It's very hard to get health insurance outside of your employer. And you always want to be the one holding the credit card for good service.

And the second problem is mostly state regulations making insurance very expensive by requiring it to cover all sorts of things like Viagra and restless leg syndrome and marriage counseling and drug counseling and gambling counseling that, you know, for a young kid out of college or someone who wants to buy health insurance on his own, you know, you just -- you want to ensure against catastrophes. You don't want to pay for everybody else's marriage counseling on the plan.

KING: But that...

COULTER: I mean that should be an option...

KING: ...that's what's wrong.

COULTER: ...but when it's mandatory, it's a problem.

KING: So what is -- what -- Alan -- Al, rather -- do you -- do you agree, first, that there has to be a public option?

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: Yes, do I. I think you have to have a public option -- and it's an option. I also think that we've got to really recognize that we have the first conference of health plan that has passed the Congress, period. I think that this is a major milestone. And now the Senate is on their way. And the Senate bill is generally in the same framework as the Congressional bill. And I think what is very, very telling here, Larry, is that the Congressional Budget Office, which everyone -- both parties kind of see as nonpartisan and as -- as an authority that could be trusted -- is saying that this health bill as it stands will save millions of dollars for Americans, our children, in years to come.

I think that we're in a very, very good place. And I think that the 37 million to 40 million people that were uninsured certainly can find some comfort in the fact that we're moving in a direction to insure all Americans.

KING: Ann, do you think that a country as rich as this, we -- we're the only one without some sort of national health insurance.

Do you think the American citizen is owed health -- owed good health?

COULTER: Yes. That's why I strongly oppose a public option, which is not just an option. Everybody is going to have to pay for it and pay through the nose for it, because, obviously, I mean the way it's described is people who can't get regular insurance.

Well, why can't people get regular insurance?

Because they have some catastrophic disease -- some very expensive treatment that could be a million dollars a year. If everybody goes into that program...

KING: So what would be your -- what would -- without public health, what would be your way of getting health to them, since you agree they deserve it?

COULTER: Well, over time, simply abolishing the government interventions I described would take care of about 95 percent of it. In the meantime, I mean once insurance was available on the free market and you could buy it the way you buy flat screen TVs and, you know, computer technicians and Genius Bar at -- at the Mac store, then it would be cheap and easily available. People would get insurance and there would be no pre-existing conditions.

For the transition period, I would far prefer to have a large government fund -- and I'm not a fan of big government programs. But, you know, there are plenty of programs I think we can cut back on -- the cost of the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, all the early education and early school programs.

How about we just have a big pot of money for people who, through no fault of their own, have some catastrophe befall them?

I think it would be better if it were done through the states and the private charities...

KING: Al, what's wrong with that?

COULTER: ...but...

SHARPTON: Well, I mean...

COULTER: ...that's better than what they're doing.


SHARPTON: What's wrong with that?

If people have a catastrophic illness, Ann says, over time, let's take care of them. Well, people with a catastrophic...


SHARPTON: ...illnesses may not have time.

What's wrong with that?

She doesn't believe in big government, but let's have a big government fund. And to do it, let's cut out the education of young children and let's not have trials for terrorists.

There's a lot wrong with all those things. And I think that Ann, as the spokesperson for those opposing health care, has just given three of the most illogical reasons why I think that a lot of people in the Congress and the Senate have rejected that.

The fact of the matter is that we do need the government to regulate the pharmaceutical industry, that has had these exorbitant prices, insurance companies that have these exorbitant prices. We need to have them protect the American people. That's what government is for.

And we don't have to sacrifice children's education and tell people with catastrophic health problems that, over time, by and by, when the morning comes, we may take care of you. COULTER: No, I didn't say that. Not only did I not say that, but I speak only for myself. What I said was, over time, by letting the market provide health insurance, it would be as available...

SHARPTON: These people don't have time, Ann.

COULTER: It would be as available as car insurance is now, so you wouldn't already have people with pre-existing conditions, as we do now.

For those people -- and, by the way, neither the Senate or the -- or the House health care bill, over time, they won't even start paying benefits for five years. That's the Democrats' plan.

No, I'd set it up immediately. And the early education health care program -- or, rather, school programs have been utter and complete failures. You could eliminate the entire Department of Agriculture, the entire Department of Education and you could definitely get rid of terrorist trials and put that into a catastrophic fund.

But my point is for the hard cases, deal with the hard cases. Don't wreck the entire health care system. Fix it, don't -- what's broken, don't recreate some European socialist health care program.

SHARPTON: I don't think this is a European health program at all. I think that, clearly, you're talking about dealing with situations that we have neglected in the past that has gotten only worse, which is why we're dealing with millions of people that are uninsured, which is why prices are so high. And I think that, clearly, it is time that America come to terms with this. And I think most Americans agree.

That's why the -- this administration was elected. I think they are fulfilling the promises that they made. And I think that we cannot continue to act as if this will just heal itself. There has to be some hard decisions made. I think the Congress has made some and I think the Senate is moving in that direction and it's the right direction.

KING: All right. I've got to get in. I've got to get a break. I've got to get a break, then we'll continue on this and other topics, as well, with Ann Shar -- with Ann Coulter and Al Sharpton.

Don't go away.


KING: Before we move to other topics, Ann Coulter, do you think we're going to have a new health plan passed in Congress or do you think not?

COULTER: I have a nickel bet riding on a new health care bill, not the -- at least with a public option, not being signed by President Obama. I mean this vote in the Senate Saturday night, for example, it's -- it's weird that there were parades and fireworks over that. Hillary Care got farther than in back in 1994, when Hilary proposed her socialist health care bill. This vote wasn't even reported on. This was a vote to proceed to the debate.

Now we have all the amendments, including one very sticky one, which is the abortion issue -- whether national health care is going to cover abortion, as the Senate bill, it does, or it won't, as it doesn't in the House bill.

SHARPTON: I think that we will (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: Al, do you think there's going to be a bill?

SHARPTON: I think there will be a bill. I think that we have gotten a lot further because the House of Representatives has already passed a bill. I think the Senate will debate and I think we'll have a bill. And I think if we didn't have the bill and Ann wins her nickel, the American people are the losers, particularly the millions of uninsured. I would not want to bet against them and their finally having health care in this, a great nation.

KING: All right. Let's move -- let's move to some other areas.

Ann, the president is meeting with his war council tonight. We still don't have a definitive decision on where we go in Afghanistan. It's a problem he inherited, but now it's become sort of his war.

Where do we go from here, Ann?

COULTER: Well, I don't know. I mean it's more than a problem he inherited. It was -- it was President Obama, during the campaign, who kept talking about Afghanistan as the necessary war and Iraq, that little war of choice. He's the one who put all the focus on Afghanistan, which I think was a mistake.

But he did. It's his war now. And, you know, now we're getting the Hamlet routine and we're just hoping he makes a decision on troops before the end of his administration.

KING: What do you think he's going to do, Al?

SHARPTON: I don't know what he's going to do. I'm glad to see that he's been deliberate. I think after this country suffered in terms of loss of life -- and let us remember now, we're not talking about pieces on a chess board. We're talking about the lives of soldiers that go out and put their lives on the line to protect all of us, people who have families.

I think that for him to be deliberate and not put us through a reckless quick choice like we saw in the last war, that ended up being done on some flawed, if not false information, and was wrong, I think it's the right thing to do. I think it's the right and respectful thing to do to our American troops. And I hope that he comes back from this deliberate decision with the right choice.

As far as the end of his administration, it's not even the end of the first year he's been in office. I think that it is the right thing to do to take time to deal with the fact you could cost American lives and that you have to have the right strategy that would secure American lives here.

KING: Ann, today, Dick Cheney accused Attorney General Holder of wanting to stage a show trial with Mohammed -- Sheikh Mohammed -- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others in New York.

One -- what if one asked it this way -- the crime occurred in New York, the buildings were bombed in New York, the victims would attend the trial in New York.

What's wrong with a trial?

That's what we do in America.

What's wrong with that?

COULTER: Well, I guess because I disagree with the second word of your question, which was "the crime." It was not a crime, it was an act of war. These were enemy combatants. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was not in New York, he was captured on foreign soil, where he plotted the attack of 9/11, both in New York and -- and in Washington and, as it turns out, in Pennsylvania.

This is the first time an enemy combatant has been given a civilian trial -- an O.J. trial. And from what Eric Holder himself says, it is a show trial. He was asked, what happens if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is acquitted and he says, oh, well, we may detain him as an enemy combatant anyway. Well, if he's an enemy combatant, then he ought to be in the military tribunal that Obama shut down, held in abeyance for eight months and now is moving Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to a civilian court in New York.

KING: All right, Al...

COULTER: If you're going to hold him anyway, it is a show trial.

KING: What do you think?

SHARPTON: We had three terrorist trials in...

KING: Al, what do you think?

SHARPTON: We had three terrorist trials in New York under the Republicans' administration. They took a much different posture. I think that the -- clearly, this was a crime. Clearly, it was done in New York. I think, clearly, there are a lot of people that engage in criminal conspiracies outside of the venue that are brought into that venue and tried. And I think that the attorney general and the Justice Department would not have prosecuted them if they weren't confident of a victory.

We will see what happens at trial. But clearly, I think they're criminals and should be tried as criminals. And they should be tried at the scene of the crime by those people that were affected by the venue of where the crime occurred. KING: Well, I'm going to pick right up on that.

We'll be back in 60 seconds.


KING: President Obama came in for some major mockery this weekend on "Saturday Night Live." The show opened with a skit involving the president of China challenging Mr. Obama on a number of sensitive topics.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And his Cash for Clunkers program...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have read that you purchased many clunkers with our money.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But what does this word clunkers mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, a clunker is an automobile...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know what a clunker is. And just so there is no misunderstanding, you are not allowed to pay us back in clunkers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you kiss me?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you kiss me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't understand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like to be kissed when someone is doing sex to me.


KING: All right. Ann, is this just pure fun or is it a sign of a declining popularity of a president?

COULTER: I'm not sure what it is a sign of. But -- but I think there's a lot of truth in this sketch. The Chinese are the ones buying our Treasuries and -- and that's why you keep hearing the Obama administration talking about how health care is going to bend the cost curve down. Well, that means health care rationing. We can't keep running up the debt. And we'll see.

KING: All right...

COULTER: And I think that is a lot of the problem with -- with Obama's popularity. So I think it reflects his decline in prop -- popularity.

KING: That's what I asked.

And do you think -- do you think it does, Al?

SHARPTON: No. I think it's a skit. I mean it -- it's funny to me. When "Saturday Night Live" goes after Sarah Palin, the right-wing has all kinds of fits. And when they go after or make jokes on President Obama, all of a sudden they're reflecting some national mood and it has some deeper meaning.

COULTER: Well, I'm distinguishing.

SHARPTON: You can't have it both ways, Ann. I think the fact of the matter is the Chinese buying American currency and the Chinese having such a great American debt didn't happen in the last 10 months, under the administration of President Obama. I think he's trying to cover an economic situation he inherited from President Bush. And I think that it is very interesting that all of a sudden we're trying to act like this began in January of this year. I don't think the facts will bear that out at all.

KING: And we'll talk about Sarah Palin...

COULTER: With the stimulus bill and...

KING: She was mentioned -- hold it, Ann.


KING: We'll talk about Sarah Palin and other things when we come back.

KING: Don't go away.


KING: Before we talk about Sarah Palin, let's take a call for Ann Coulter and Al Sharpton.

Atlanta, hello.


My -- my question is for Ann Coulter. She had made the comment that the public option is going to cause health insurance premiums to increase because it would cover people with catastrophic events.

First of all, do you feel that those people don't deserve health care coverage, also?

And then, also, are you ignorant of the fact that there are millions of people who are among the working poor. They go to work faithfully every day and their employers don't provide health insurance.

What's your solution for those people?

KING: Ann?

COULTER: No, not only am I aware of those people, I'm aware of myself, without an employer. You know, the -- the point is that -- that you can't have Democrats simultaneously telling us that they're going to bend the cost curve down and they're going to save so much money when they're going to have a public option for people who can't get health insurance otherwise, often because they have catastrophic illnesses that cost a million dollars a year. That isn't a cost saving measure.

You can say that we have an enormous federal program that is going to balloon the federal deficit or you can say we're going to cover all of these people who can't get coverage now and have it open to everyone -- including illegal aliens, by the way.

KING: All right...

COULTER: But you can't say both. And that is what the Democrats are telling us. And they also have a chocolate cake that tastes delicious and you lose calories -- you lose weight eating it.

KING: Is it...

COULTER: It's just crazy what they're proposing.

KING: Well, is it...

SHARPTON: I -- I'm sure it's...

KING: Al, is money more important -- my old friend, Henry Lewin, used to say, money is not the most important thing, health is 3 percent.

SHARPTON: Well, I think health is very important. But, again...

KING: Where in this equation does health count?

SHARPTON: I think that health is -- it should be our priority. But even in terms of money, again, no less authority than the Congressional Budget Office, that has looked at these bills, say it will, in fact, save Americans, not balloon the deficit -- save Americans. Over the course of years, as time goes up, it will save even more millions.

So I think that that has been contradicted by the facts. And I think the caller and I are still waiting for Ann to tell us then what is her plan -- not what is wrong with the Democrats, which, clearly, she would disagree with the Congressional Budget Office, but what is her plan to deal with those working that are uninsured and those with catastrophic diseases?

I think we missed your plan, Ann.

COULTER: I -- I gave you my plan three times, but I'll give it a fourth time. And -- but, first, I want to say to Larry King, this idea of what's more important, health or -- or money, do not assume that having the DMV run health care in America is going to give us better medical care. It is going to be worse. One thing I'll agree with Al Sharpton on, it will not be a European style socialist health care in this country, because they at least have the outlet of coming to the United States for any care they need. They have the United States inventing pharmaceuticals that Europe and Canada will never invent because they don't have the profit system there.

Without the United States, there will no relief for people who have to wait for three years to get a C.T. scan. There will no relief for people who want a drug that will never be invented because national health care passes.

What I said was for the transition, for the tough cases, I would rather have one fund that just pays these -- these few rare cases rather than wreck the entire system for everyone -- and I mean everyone on Earth, which is what the Democrat plan will do.

Over time, what you do, if you don't like the insurance companies, then make them compete. You make Apple compete with Microsoft and suddenly everybody has a computer for $200. You make cell phones compete, suddenly everything is cheap and easily available. Somehow, prices do not come down and services do not improve...

KING: But it...

COULTER: ...when the government is running things.

KING: But, Al, isn't it the insurance lobby that prevents competition?

SHARPTON: It is absolutely the insurance lobby. It is those that protect those interests. And, again, I will say again, the Congressional Budget Office has cost this out, that the facts just don't bear out the way Ann is quoting them...

COULTER: OK, that's a fraud.

SHARPTON: That's one, I think -- and -- and both parties concede the -- the Congressional Budget Office.

Secondly, I think it is...


SHARPTON: ...I mean, this general fund, I don't know how she will determine -- this general fund will determine what she says are rare catastrophic diseases. There's nothing rare about a lot of these diseases that we do not cover now in America. Unfortunately, they're not rare and, unfortunately...

KING: All right, I've got to...

SHARPTON: ...they can't be covered by some nebulous general fund...

KING: I've got to get another...

SHARPTON: people that don't believe in big government in the first place.

KING: All right...

COULTER: The numbers are a fraud.

KING: I've got to get another break then I want to talk about -- talk about Sarah Palin, as promised.

We have one segment left.

And we'll be back with Coulter and Sharpton. They may go on the road together.

Don't go away.


KING: Ann Coulter, would you like -- would you like Sarah Palin to be your next candidate for the presidency?

COULTER: Perhaps. I'm not...

KING: Fair enough.

COULTER: ...I'm not coming out for anyone, but I'd at least like the person to have declared.

KING: No, I mean do you -- do you like her enough to think she would hold the highest office?

COULTER: I like her, but I like a lot of republicans. And as my answer suggested, I don't know that she even wants to run for president.

KING: Al, what do you make of this phenomena that is the former governor of Alaska? SHARPTON: I think what is interesting about the Sarah Palin book tour -- I've not read the book, but certainly from all the excerpts and reviews -- and even the title, she talks about rogue. She's got to be one of the first people in American history that is selling books in big numbers for attacking the party and the ticket she ran on.

What is the book? It's a tell-all against her running mate and against their campaign, and really saying how she was a rogue against the party, that now people are saying is she going to lead. I think all of that is only good for her opponents. I mean, to admit that they were a train wreck that we all watched does not really encourage Americans to make you the next conductor of the next train ride.

KING: Ann, are you surprised that she's attacking the people who are behind the scenes for her?

COULTER: No. I think that's kind of a weird description of the book. I mean, I certainly haven't finished it, but I've read -- I don't know -- 50, 70 pages of it. I'm looking forward to getting to what she says about the McCain camp. But I would not define, you know, staffers working for McCain as the be all, end all definition of the Republican party. The one thing that is certainly the most appealing aspect of Sarah Palin is that she annoys all the right people. And I think the title has a lot more to do with that.

SHARPTON: Right as in right wing. I think the rogue title -- she was a rogue to the campaign and to the party. And I think that clearly you can't get away from the fact, Ann, that that's what she called the book. That's what the book has been promoted as. I don't know if the first 50 to 75 pages says, but the cover says rogue. And rogue was about what? That is what she was nicknamed to the party and to the campaign.

COULTER: Well, it came up during the campaign but it's about her upbringing in Alaska. It's about her life and philosophy.

SHARPTON: It's also about how she conducted herself during the campaign.

COULTER: This is a very weird description of what she's doing here. But, yeah, she's very appealing to conservatives and conservatives are the biggest part and the most important part of the republican party. That was a part that was not reflected in the nominee who chose her as his vice president. So I'm looking forward to getting to those parts.

SHARPTON: It's funny --

KING: do you think --

SHARPTON: I think conservatives that supported her, including you, and supported him -- I think that ticket was rejected, by our count, of the American vote last year.

KING: Do you think, Ann, John McCain might be sorry he picked her?

COULTER: No. To his credit, he's said nice things about the book and about Sarah Palin. I think it was more campaign staffers getting a little bit testy. I mean, what would happen on the campaign is -- I'm not a political fan of John McCain's but still, a lot of his problem is he's not a particularly dynamic speaker. He'd show up at a rally and five people would show up. Sarah Palin would show up and she drew crowds a lot larger than Obama did. We keep hearing about the people feinting at his crowds. Sarah Palin would draw twice the crowd as Obama.

So there were some jealousies on the campaign developing. And the mainstream media was anxious to hear any bitter sniping from the campaign about Sarah Palin. So now we get to hear her side.

KING: If she outdrew Obama, who won?

COULTER: Well, she was the vice presidential candidate. They rarely carry presidential campaigns, Larry. I think you can check with anyone on that.

KING: All right, guys, we'll have you back. Ann Coulter and Al Sharpton, at it again. We'll make this a regular scene here. We thank them both very much.

COULTER: Thank you.

KING: Oprah's best friend Gayle King is here and "Oprah" show regular, Suze Orman, too. They'll both be with us after this.


KING: Gayle King is Oprah's best friend. She's editor at large of "O," the Oprah magazine, host of "The Gayle King Show" on Sirius XM radio. She's joining us from New York. And Suze Orman, the personal finance expert, is a regular guest on "Oprah" and contributor to the "O" magazine, also the Emmy winning host of the CNBC's "The Suze Orman Show."

Gayle, is your dear friend having any second thoughts?

GAYLE KING, SIRIUS XM RADIO HOST: Larry, I can tell you, without a doubt, she's having no form of buyer's remorse today. If anything, she feels very much at peace about her decision. She's very happy about her decision. No, there's no sign of regret at all.

It's interesting because I asked her that very question. How are you feeling? Do you have any regrets? Was it the right thing to do? Without a doubt, it was a resounding yes for her.

KING: Is she sad about leaving Chicago, though? She's moving west.

G. KING: I'm not sure she's leaving Chicago at this particular time. She certainly has a place in California, has a place in Chicago. While she's sorting everything out -- of course, the O Network starts in January 2011. Right now, she's not going anywhere any time soon.

I just think it's important for people to know, we still have another season of "Oprah." We still have lots of time to spend with Oprah.

KING: I thought she was quoted as saying she's going to live in her beautiful mansion in California, and is leaving Chicago

G. KING: I read that quote, too. But I don't think she's made a firm decision on that yet, I really don't.

KING: OK. Suze, were you surprised at the announcement?

SUZE ORMAN, PERSONAL FINANCE EXPERT: No, because, you know, Larry, it was about a year or so ago when I was actually on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" the day she announced she was developing this network called OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network. What did everybody think? Of course there was going to come a time when she was going to devote her time and her energy into an entire network that she's going to be in charge of. So it didn't surprise me whatsoever.

KING: The announcement she'll wrap included -- it was classic Oprah. Let's watch a little.

G. KING: Yes, it was.


OPRAH WINFREY, "OPRAH": These years with you, our viewers, have enriched my life beyond all measure. And you all have graciously invited me into your living rooms, into your kitchens and into your lives. I want you all to know that my relationship with you is one that I hold very dear. And your trust in me, the sharing of your precious time, every day with me, has brought me the greatest joy I have ever known.


KING: Gayle, she's one of the richest women in the world. What keeps her close to the everyday lady?

G. KING: You know, Larry, that's what I think is the beauty that is Oprah Winfrey. Whether you're one of the richest people in the world, whether you're a working class person, a single woman working to make end's meet, everybody feels that Oprah gets them and cares about them. and everybody feels that Oprah relates to them. Every step of the way, she's certainly been there. I think it is remarkable that someone of her stature still makes you feel that I am just like you. The reason why she does that is because she really does feel, I am just like you.

KING: Suze, is this a wise, purely business decision?

ORMAN: I have to tell you, I think it is. Let me say why I think it is. It is no secret that cable is getting larger and larger and larger. The networks are suffering in terms of viewership. Where are people going? They are going to the cable networks. It's an advertising game, it's a money game.

If you're looking at the future of television and the big financial future of television, it has to be, in my opinion, in cable. Do I think it is a wise move? I absolutely do.

G. KING: And Suze and I --

KING: We'll take a break. Go ahead, Gayle

G. KING: Suze and I are friends. I say this with great respect. Hi, Suze.

ORMAN: Hi, Gayle

G. KING: I do not believe that this was a business decision for Oprah. I believe that what she said on her show was true. This was a life decision for her, that she really just felt that the time had come, that after 25 years -- she never wanted to be the girl that stayed too late at the party or stayed too long at the party. The time to leave is when you're still on top. Oprah doesn't make decisions based on what is going to be financially lucrative for her. There's no telling how this cable -- how the cable network is going to work. I disagree that this was a business decision for her.

ORMAN: Yeah, but Gayle, just with that said --

KING: I didn't say it was a business decision. I asked her if she thought it was a good business decision and she said it was.

ORMAN: And I do.

KING: We'll be back.


KING: As we mentioned earlier, Gayle King has a very popular radio show. Guess who called in today? Oprah. Listen.


G. KING: How do you know, Oprah, within your hearts of hearts, this is the right decision for you, without a doubt? I know you said you feel it in your bones.

WINFREY: That is where you feel it. You feel it in your bones and your spirit. I actually started to feel it when I had the option, you know. The question was do I leave in 2008? You know how I like numbers to even out. The question was do I leave in 2010? That's an even number. Or do I, you know, try to make the 25th. And actually, years ago, when I was thinking about ending it in the 20th year, I had gotten an e-mail from Mattie Stepanek. Remember little Mattie?

G. KING: Oprah, a caller just called and said that, that Oprah had referred to Mattie Stepanek. Somebody remembered that.

WINFREY: Yes. Mattie Stepanek sent me an e-mail and it was so heartfelt from that little angel boy. He said I feel in my heart it's 25 and not 20.

G. KING: Yes, yes.

WINFREY: so I always kept that in the back of my mind. That was all a part of it. Mattie said it's 25 and not 20. That was also influential. And also just comes to the point of, as I do the show every day, how much longer do I think I can be 100 percent present, still stimulated, stimulating for the audience. Do I think I could do that past 2011? And the answer is no, because the show is 100% harder to do now than it was when I first started.


KING: By the way, Mattie Stepanek's mother was on this program Saturday night. And Mattie appeared here many times as well. Guess who's next? Oprah's fourth grade teacher. Don't go away.



KING: Mary Alice Duncan was Oprah Winfrey's fourth grade teacher at Warton Elementary School in Nashville. Oprah has said the years she spent as Mrs. Duncan's students was one of the defining moments of her life. She was nine years old. Mrs. Duncan joins us now. What are your memories of little Oprah?

MARY ALICE DUNCAN, OPRAH'S FOURTH GRADE TEACHER: I'm very happy to have the opportunity to speak about how I feel about Oprah. At the time, she was in my fourth grade class, she was outstanding, very good student in all areas, especially in reading. Even the students loved to hear her read.

KING: Was she a good talker.

DUNCAN: She surely was.

KING: Now, she's been very open about the hardships she had as a childhood, difficult things. Did you know how tough things were for her?

DUNCAN: No, I didn't. She spent time talking about -- when she was talking with me about her dad. Oh, she thought so much of her dad. She still does.

KING: Are you surprised all that's happened to her?

DUNCAN: You know, at that time, I felt that she might become a teacher herself. And I really thought -- I think she thought about it, too, becoming a teacher. She was capable.

KING: Gayle King, anything you want to say to Mary Alice Duncan?

G. KING: No, you've asked it, Larry. I was very curious about what she was like in class, Mrs. Duncan. I heard about you for so many years. It really is an honor to see you in person. I know the high regard that Oprah holds you in. I'm wondering, was she a chatty kid in class? Was she a quiet kid in class? Did you ever think that she would grow up to be what she has become today?

DUNCAN: At that time she was quiet unless I asked her a question. She was ready to speak. She wanted everybody else in the class to take note of what she might be saying at that time.

G. KING: Sounds like her.

DUNCAN: I can just see her turning around, looking if she heard a slight whisper.

G. KING: Mrs. Duncan, do you watch "The Oprah Show," Mrs. Duncan?

DUNCAN: Oh, yes!

G. KING: You do? OK, good.

DUNCAN: I watch it every day.

G. KING: So what did you think when she -- what did you think, Mrs. Duncan?

DUNCAN: I was disappointed, really. I don't know. I will surely miss seeing her, looking at the clock and it's 4:00, time for "Oprah." And I miss her. Although I'm sure she --

KING: What a kick you must get every day, Mary Alice.

DUNCAN: Oh, yes.

KING: Turning on the television and seeing your little nine- year-old girl there.

DUNCAN: It's amazing. She has accomplished so much. Just brilliant.

KING: It's good of you to join us.

DUNCAN: And I hope that she --

KING: You want to add something, Gayle?

G. KING: I was going to say, Larry, what Mrs Duncan just said about 4:00, I've been hearing that a lot for the past couple of days. What are we going to do at 4:00? So many of us are used to "the Oprah Winfrey Show." I think it's interesting that she said it. I've been hearing it a lot.

DUNCAN: I will surely miss her and think about her at that time.

G. KING: Yes.

DUNCAN: Yes, as well as other times.

KING: You're a doll. There's nothing more important in life than your elementary school teachers. Mary Alice Duncan, Oprah Winfrey's fourth grade teacher.

We'll hear Dr Phil's reaction to the news. And Suze Orman will be back in the mix too, right after the break.


KING: Here's Dr Phil McGraw's statement about Oprah's decision to end her show: "This is a very nostalgic moment for me. Oprah Winfrey is, first and foremost, one of my dearest friends, and obviously the person who taught me everything I know about television. Her show was home for me for five of the most exciting years of my life. 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' is the gold standard and I know that she'll succeed at whatever she chooses to do next."

Let's take a call for Gayle King and Suze Orman. Naples, Florida. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry How are you?

KING: Fine.

CALLER: Wonderful show. Thank you so much. You do a great job.

KING: thank you.

CALLER: I want to ask Suze, I've been to Chicago several times. And every time I go there, everyone I talk to says thanks to Oprah. You know, it's Oprah's city. I'm wondering, I've been there before for a television show called "Music Mix USA." When I get there, though, I'm asked what if she does leave? What would happen to the economy in Chicago?

KING: Would it have an economic effect?

ORMAN: You know, I don't know. Again, we have 18 months until Oprah is not going to be on the 4:00 spot. However, I'm not exactly sure that they're shutting down the Harpo Production Company. So we're going to have to wait to see. You know, Oprah obviously is an entire financial community unto herself.

So time will tell. But obviously if she just shut down, it would have some impact. I don't think that's exactly what's going to happen. But, again, I'm not exactly sure of what her plans are in that respect.

KING: Gayle, no one can get us more inside than you. Will there continue to be a Harpo?

G. KING: I think Suze is absolutely right. I think no one really knows what her plans are right now. But I certainly hope that that is her intention to continue -- to allow Harpo to continue. I mean it is a huge business in Chicago . And I myself can't imagine Chicago without Harpo Studios.

KING: What happens to you, Gayle?

G. KING: Well, Larry, I'm so glad you ask, because the Oprah magazine, is alive and well. We have no intentions of going anywhere. And that is my main job and my radio show. So knock on wood, as far as I know, I still got a job.

KING: Suze, if you were running Harpo, would you look to find a new host?

ORMAN: You mean to replace Oprah?

KING: Yeah.

ORMAN: Listen -- I know everybody is saying that -- who's going to replace Oprah? Who's going to do that? I have said this before, it is impossible. It's not like somebody cannot take over the 4:00 spot. OK. But nobody -- and I mean this -- nobody is ever going to replace the part that Oprah held in millions and millions of people's hearts, Larry It is impossible. It is impossible. So even to talk about that is ridiculous. So, sure, there will be somebody else out there. It will never be another Oprah.

KING: Someone would have to be a nincompoop to take the job.

G. KING: I can't imagine anybody who is saying put me in, coach. Put me in, coach. Suze is absolutely right. The place that Oprah holds in popular culture and the humanity of Oprah and how people feel about her is something that cannot be duplicated. So people just need to come up with another plan, because right now Oprah is -- there is only one. There is only one.

KING: So, Suze, what show are you going to go on now?

ORMAN: Well, I have my own show every Saturday night on CNBC. You know, I would do anything, obviously, for the O Network, if that's where it goes. I hope I continue writing for the "Oprah" magazine. I have loved it. I've done it since day one.

And my career, Larry, kind of goes on as it does, because money is everywhere. So hopefully over the next eight months you'll see me on "the Oprah Winfrey Show." And we'll be there. And I'll be right with you, Larry. I'm going to be right with you, sir.

KING: And, Gayle, I'll see you on the treadmills at the Beverly Wilshire.

G. KING: That's right. That's right, Larry That's where Larry and I meet. They're going to start talking very soon.

KING: Thank you, guys.

G. KING: Thank you, Larry Bye, Suze

ORMAN: Bye, Gayle,

KING: Before we go, Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy, was at the White House earlier this evening. She joined President Obama in presenting the 2009 RFK human rights award to the women of Zimbabwe Arise. We salute Ethel Kennedy and the work of the Center For Justice and Human Rights, established in honor of her late husband.