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CNN Larry King Live

Moore & Gupta: "Sicko" Controversy; Crazy Love

Aired July 10, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, controversial filmmaker Michael Moore and CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Last night on CNN, new controversy as Michael Moore took issue with Dr. Gupta and CNN's coverage of his new movie "Sicko".


MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: So for me to have to sit here and listen again to more crap about socialized medicine --


KING: Now Michael Moore tells us exactly what set him off.

And Sanjay Gupta weighs in on his fact check of "Sicko".




KING: And then, he hired a thug to have her blinded and maimed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, how are you.


KING: And when he got out of prison, they got married. And after his affair led to a scandalous trial, they're still together.

Meet the stranger-than-fiction couple who star in the new movie "Crazy Love."

All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

My guests tonight are filmmaker Michael Moore and CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

They're here to talk about a flap yesterday on CNN's "SITUATION ROOM". Michael Moore was Wolf Blitzer's guest. He was on to talk about his new movie, "Sicko". Before the interview, the show played a fact check piece on "Sicko" by Dr. Gupta.

Mr. Moore took great exception to that report when Wolf interviewed him after it ran.

Now let's watch an edited version of that exchange.


MOORE: That report was so biased, I can't imagine what pharmaceutical company ad is coming up right after our break here.

But, you know, why don't you tell the truth to the American people?

I mean I wish that CNN and the other mainstream media would just for once tell the truth about what's going on in this country -- whether it's with health care, I don't care what it is. I mean you guys have such a poor track record. And for me to come on here and have to listen to that kind of crap, I mean, seriously --

WOLF BLITZER, HOST: I don't know if you're familiar with Dr. Sanjay Gupta's record. But I would back up his record on medical issues with virtually anyone in the business.

MOORE: All right. So when I -- when I now put on my Web site, as I will do tonight, how his facts were wrong about the $7,000 that we spend -- it's actually - I've read one report now it's even more than $7,000 that we spend per person each year in this country.

I'm going to put the real facts up there on my Web site so people can see what he just said was absolutely wrong.

BLITZER: Well, if we get that confirmed, obviously we'll correct the record, Sanjay.

But I'm just saying --

MOORE: Oh, you will?


BLITZER: Obviously, Sanjay Gupta --

MOORE: You'll be getting it.

BLITZER: -- is not only a -- is not only a doctor and a neurosurgeon, but he's also an excellent, excellent journalist.

MOORE: Thank you for having me on --

BLITZER: It we could tape it, it will --

MOORE: I really appreciate it. BLITZER: We're not going to cut a second out of it, if you want to tape something.

MOORE: You'll run it unedited?

BLITZER: We'll run it unedited.



MOORE: And people can go to my --

BLITZER: People can go to your Web site.

MOORE: -- people can go to my Web site tonight.

BLITZER: It's a free country.

MOORE: And find out the --

BLITZER: They can find out the truth, whatever it is.

MOORE: -- the facts about Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

They can find out about his facts, right?

We can find that out, right?

BLITZER: Absolutely.


KING: Now for those of you who didn't get a chance to see it, here's the Sanjay Gupta fact check report on "Sicko".



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not on, right?




DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice over): "Sicko" throws some hard punches at the United States' health care system. And it seems just about everyone has something to say.

SARAH BERK, HEALTH CARE AMERICA: He plays fast and loose with the facts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Moore was spot on. MOORE: The facts, I think, support what I believe.

GUPTA: And Moore presents a lot of facts throughout the movie.

But do they all check out?

Keeping them honest, we did some digging and we started with a biggie -- the United States slipped to number 37 in the world's health care systems.

It's true. Thirty-seven is the ranking, according to the World Health Organization's latest data on 191 countries. It's based on general health level, patient satisfaction, access and how it's paid for.

France tops the list. Italy and Spain make it into the top 10. The United Kingdom is 18.


MOORE: Hello?


GUPTA: Moore brings a group of patients, including 9/11 workers, to Cuba and marvels at their free treatment and quality of care.

But hold on.

That WHO list puts Cuba's health care system even lower than the United States, coming in at number 39.

Moore asserts that the American health care system spends $7,000 per person on health, whereas Cuba spends $251 per person. Not true -- but not too far off. The United States spends $6,096 a year per person, versus $229 a year in Cuba.

And astronomically more money doesn't mean far better outcomes. In fact, Americans live just a little bit longer than Cubans, on average. So Americans do pay more, but the United States also ranks highest in patient satisfaction. And Americans have shorter wait times than everyone but Germans when seeking non-emergency elective procedures, like hip replacement, cataract surgery or knee repair.

That's not something you'll see in "Sicko," as Americans tell their tales of lack of coverage and suffocating red tape.

It's true that the United States is the only country in the Western world without free universal access to health care.

But you won't find medical utopia elsewhere. The film is filled with content Canadians and Brits sitting in waiting rooms, confident care will come. But in Canada, you can be waiting for a long time. A survey of six industrialized nations found that only Canada was worse than the United States when it came to waiting for a doctor's appointment for a medical problem. PAUL KECKLEY, DELOITTE HEALTHCARE ANALYST: That's the reality of those systems. There are quotas. There are planned wait times. The concept that care is free in France, in Canada and Cuba, and it's not.

Those citizens pay for health services out of taxes. And as a proportion of their household income, it's a significant number.

GUPTA: It's true that the French pay higher taxes -- and so does nearly every country ahead of the United States on that list. But even higher taxes don't give all the coverage everyone wants.

KECKLEY: Fifteen to 20 percent of the population will purchase services outside the system of care run by the government.

GUPTA: So there's no perfect system anywhere. But no matter how much Moore fudged the facts -- and he did fudge some facts -- there's one everyone agrees on -- the system here should be far better.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


KING: By the way, that report that you just saw was updated from the version that ran yesterday. The original report did have one error.

Before I get to Michael Moore, let me ask Sanjay to -- what -- what happened with that correction?

GUPTA: -- Yes, we made a mistake, Larry, with regards to the per capita spending for Cubans. Michael correctly -- he said $251 in the movie. We said $5, misquoting him $25 per capita in the piece. And that was a mistake of ours. It was an error of transcription and it's -- we want to get these facts and figures right, as a doctor and a journalist, so we corrected that. But we wanted to make sure we just made that very transparent.

KING: Michael, what ticked you off so much about that report?

MOORE: -- Well, there's still a lot of facts that remain untrue in that report.



I'll start with the per capita that we spend in this country per person. The film says nearly $7,000 per person in the United States we spend on health care every year. Dr. Gupta said it was around $6,000.

Unfortunately, he's using old statistics from 2004. My statistics are actually from Mr. Bush's Health and Human Services Department, from 2007. And that's only one of a number of things he uses. The Cuban longevity list --

KING: But how -- how vast is the difference? MOORE: -- He's using -- well, you mean the longevity rates?

KING: No, between what he reported of being spent and you report being spent?

MOORE: -- It's a -- it's about a $1,400 difference now. This year Health and Human Services says that we're going to spend about $7,400 per person in this country, not 6,000, as Dr. Gupta said. He's using 2004 statistics.

Now, here's the sad thing about this, Larry, is that this is now the third time this report ran. It first ran on "ANDERSON COOPER" right after I was on your show on June 29.

The day before, on June 28th, we spoke to Dr. Gupta's senior producer, Chris Gajilan, and we gave her in -- writing -- all the facts and all the evidence and the backup for those facts. So they've known now since June 28th that all their facts are wrong --


MOORE: -- I have the e-mail right here.

KING: Hold it right there.


MOORE: Here it is, right here.

KING: All right. I believe it. Hold on a second.

MOORE: We gave this to your senior producer --

KING: I'm sure you sent it.

Hold on, Michael.

KING: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.

I'm going to be balanced here.

Sanjay, you want to respond that he gave you the facts and you didn't run the facts he gave you?

GUPTA: Well, you know, look, we try and look for some of the best sources that we can possibly find, because we think we owe that to our viewers.

You know, Michael has a lot of different numbers here and he's pulling them from different places. One quick example -- Michael, I think you're going to agree with me on this --

MOORE: Oh --

GUPTA: Just hang on one second. $251 is what you cited in the movie as the per capita spending, which I just corrected, by the way -- you heard that -- per capita in Cuba. You have $229 on the Web site. So your Web site and your movie, first of all, don't jive.

But I think even more interesting --

MOORE: That's not true. There you go again. There you go again.

GUPTA: Michael, give me one --

MOORE: That's not true.

GUPTA: Give me one second, Michael.

Let me just finish.

That's -- where you pulled the $251 number was a BBC report, which, by the way, stated that the per capita spending in the United States was $5,700. You chose not to use the $5,700 from one report and chose to go to a totally different report and you're sort of cherry picking data from different reports.

I know that the first (INAUDIBLE) --

MOORE: That's not true either.

GUPTA: Well, why didn't you use the $5,700 number from the BBC report?

MOORE: I'll tell you --

GUPTA: Because that's where you got the $251.

MOORE: Because it's not true. It's not true --

GUPTA: Why did you use the $251 then?

MOORE: -- that -- I'm going by -- I'm using.

KING: One at a time.

MOORE: I'm using President Bush's own statistics from Health and Human Services. And I put this up on my Web site so people can go and source it themselves. And, in fact, when I --

GUPTA: Michael, you're using projected numbers, though, right?

You're using projected numbers?

And we're using actual numbers.

MOORE: What I did -- yes, in the --

GUPTA: You're using projected numbers.

MOORE: And in the movie -- right.

And in the movie I use the number from Health and Human Services, which as I said, nearly $7,000 per person and Health. And Human Services, last year, said it was a little over $7,000.

So that statistic is correct.

Five minutes ago --

KING: In essence though, fellows --

MOORE: -- I posted --

KING: Hold on.

MOORE: I -- let me just finish, though. I posted this e-mail that we had with your producer a day before this report ran so that you had all the facts. You ran the story knowing that the facts were wrong and I posted this five minutes ago --

KING: But, wait a minute.


KING: Why --

GUPTA: Michael, just -- just, if I can say --

MOORE: So people can read this for themselves.

GUPTA: Just because you say they're wrong, I mean it doesn't make it so, Michael. I mean we try and do what you do. We try and get the best available data --

MOORE: I'm not the one saying it's wrong. President Bush says you're wrong.

KING: Michael, don't interrupt.

Don't interrupt.


GUPTA: We -- you took issue with the ranking of the United States health care versus Cuba, 37 versus 39. We used World Health Organization data. We used the World Health Organization data for the numbers that you just heard in terms of per capita spending. We used the World Health Organization data for mortality rates, as well.

I mean you say that was flatly untrue in terms of -- of the mortality in Cuba versus the mortality in the United States.

Michael, you just can't say things like that without backing it up.

I can show you the data. You've seen it yourself, which I think is most irksome, because you know that there's data out there that actually shows --

KING: There's a key here.

GUPTA: -- the United States' mortality rates are actually lower.

KING: In essence, Dr. Gupta, did you like the movie?

GUPTA: I thought it was a good movie. And I wanted to say that.


GUPTA: And I think it -- no, I mean, listen, I think it strikes at this irrefutable fact that just with about every American that you speak to, Michael, or that I've spoken to, is unhappy with our health care system. It's broken. We get it. And the fact that you try and, you know, peg me or anybody else with -- with somehow being responsible or not fixing it in some way, I think, is ludicrous.

I thought it was a good move because you're going to raise awareness about this very important issue. People don't --

KING: That's what I didn't understand.

Why, Michael, did you get so mad?

I thought that report was kind of balanced, and in the end, he agreed with you.

MOORE: Yes. In the end --

KING: Why did you get so mad?

MOORE: -- he said the facts were fudged and --

well, he said the facts were fudged. That's a lie.

KING: Some of the facts, he said.

MOORE: And so, anyone who speaks a lie -- no, none of the -- well, none of facts are fudged and it's all -- I'll give you -- this is a good example, Larry. And I asked you before we went on if -- if your producer could put up the slides, because he said that we didn't point out that Cuba was number 39.

It's right there in the movie, right there on the screen. You can see Cuba is 39. And -- and when he ran his report, anybody who TiVoed it can re-run it now, and you can see that they've covered up the -- the CNN logos have covered up Cuba as number 39.

It's right there and he's just not telling the truth. And you --

GUPTA: Now, Michael --

KING: I've got to get a break.

MOORE: -- you don't have to take my word for it. KING: Hold it.

We'll come right back.

MOORE: You can just go to Health and Human Services.

KING: We'll be right back with Michael Moore and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Michael Moore of film fame. His latest, "Sicko".

And Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent.

All this began with Wolf Blitzer yesterday and continuing today here on LARRY KING LIVE, at least we have them both together.

Gentlemen, try not to interrupt.

Try to make the answers a little shorter.

We're going to cover as much as we can in the remaining moments.

Dr. Gupta, what did he fudge?

GUPTA: Well, you know, we talked about the specific numbers with regards to Cuba per capita spending versus in the United States. And look --

KING: All right, let's get through that.

GUPTA: Well, I mean, he pulls $251 from this BBC unsourced report and then he -- and then he has this $7,000 number, which is a projected HHS number. It's not -- it's not an actual number yet.

And you brought up the point, Larry, maybe the numbers aren't that wildly different. But I think the numbers are important here because I think the issue here is that I think it blackens the eyes of people who are actually trying to do something about health care, who actually want to know the numbers, who want to do right by their bodies and their loved one's health. It makes it very hard to advance the argument if you're not getting the numbers right.

I also think the whole idea, Michael, of just calling it a free system I think is a little bit nebulous to people who don't fully understand what you mean by that. Yes, you've got to raise taxes significantly. I mean France is drowning in taxes. They're running a $15.6 billion debt. I mean it's very hard to pay for this sort of thing. And to just call it free and say it's free, I think, makes it very -- it's murky, Michael, at best. And I think that's what I have difficulty with when you're trying to really advance a scenario here where we can get health care for everybody. KING: Good point. Michael?

MOORE: Well, he just used the line from my film where I said the French are drowning in taxes. That's my line.


GUPTA: Well, look --

MOORE: Isn't that --

GUPTA: Michael, I think you would have to agree.

MOORE: Don't you agree?

GUPTA: No. Let me -- you would have to agree that people would walk away from your film with the perception that health care is free in Canada.


GUPTA: I mean you're a filmmaker.

MOORE: It is free.

GUPTA: You know how to do this sort of thing.

MOORE: It is free.

GUPTA: You pay for it through taxes --

MOORE: It is free.

GUPTA: I mean, in France, there's a 13.5 percent --

MOORE: Yes. We pay for it --

GUPTA: -- payroll tax.

MOORE: We pay.

GUPTA: There's a 5 percent income tax. That's in addition to a --

MOORE: Hey, when will I get to say something here?

GUPTA: Go ahead.

KING: All right, Sanjay.

Go ahead, Michael.

MOORE: Man, oh, man.

KING: Go ahead.

MOORE: Yes -- GUPTA: We've got Michael Moore speechless. That's pretty hard to do here.

MOORE: Well, no, it's just I -- well, it's -- I'm not going -- I'm trying to say something here and he just went on with another diatribe about this.

You know, the -- first of all, these countries, you think the other 24 of the top 25 industrialized countries are doing this wrong and we're doing it right?

I mean they actually do get care for free and we don't call it taxes. But what we pay for in co-pays and deductibles -- or if you're having to pay for your own premium -- when you add all that up and then -- and the profit that has to go into the pocket of the private insurance companies -- when you add all that up, we're actually paying more than these other countries.

That's why it's $7,000 per person instead of, say, $3,000 in Canada per person, because we have a system built on profit.

And they won't allow profit to enter into the equation because they're mostly concerned about making sure every single one of their citizens is covered. And so you won't find many Canadians or French or British people willing to give up their national system for our system, even if they do have to pay a little more in taxes, because, in the end, because they're not paying the co-pays and the deductibles and all these other things, it's actually costing them less money in the long run.

GUPTA: Well, if I could respond really quickly.

KING: Sure.

GUPTA: Mike, I don't disagree with any of that. The point is, though, and I think you would have to concede this point, Michael, that you are trying to lead people to believe, again, people who are really concerned about this issue, that it is free in these other countries. And that is what I think is (INAUDIBLE) --

MOORE: It is free.

GUPTA: It's not, Michael.

I mean the taxes are high. I know -- I understand that you're equating taxes with -- with HMO premiums. I get it. I've studied this stuff, as have you.

But to just say to someone who doesn't have a sophisticated understanding of exactly how health care works that it's free is simply not true.

Why do we have --

MOORE: It is free because we --

GUPTA: Why do they have such a high debt in France?

Why are they paying so much more in taxes?

MOORE: The difference -- the difference is, is that in those countries, if you get sick, you never have to worry about whether or not you're going to be able to afford to pay for it. That's the difference. And when you've got 47 million people in this country with no health insurance, they don't go to the doctor because they can't afford it. And -- and, I mean, I just think -- let me ask you as a doctor.

I mean do you like, as a doctor, having to -- when you have a patient there and before you can perform a procedure or a treatment or a refer them to a specialist, that you've got to call the insurance company first and talk to a man that's sitting in a cubicle a thousand miles away in order to get permission when you've got the patient right there?

Do you think that's a good system?

GUPTA: No, no, it's not, Michael. And, obviously, that's -- it's a shameful system, especially when I'm dealing with some of my patients.

But, Michael, I mean on the one hand --

MOORE: Right.

GUPTA: -- you've criticized the --

MOORE: That's why I want to eliminate the middle man.

GUPTA: You criticize the government so soundly. But you're willing to hand over one of our most precious commodities, our health care in this country, to the government. I'm not saying I disagree with you. But I can't believe you're saying this all in the same sentence.

You so soundly criticize the way this government manages things, yet you're willing to hand over this precious commodity to them.

MOORE: No. I actually love our government. I think the government is great. It does a great job of administrating Social Security. Our parents and grandparents get their checks every single month on time and for the correct amount.

Our government used to do a lot of things really well. We put a man on the moon in eight years, after the president said we're going to put a man on the moon. We had FDR, who defeated the Nazis and then the Japanese and Mussolini in less time than it's taken us to secure the road from the airport to downtown Baghdad.

GUPTA: I hear you.

MOORE: I mean the government actually used to do things right. The problem is who we've put in power who holds office. They're the ones who sort of messed this up and we just need to have the right people there administrating it.

KING: Well --

GUPTA: Michael, one of the best examples of health care, at least some sort of universal health care, would be Medicare. I think you would agree with that.

MOORE: Yes --

GUPTA: It's going to go bankrupt by 2019. It's going to be $28 trillion in debt by 2075.

Look, I believe the very measure of a great society is in how we take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.

But would you say that this is going to be still a working system 20 years from now?

Is that what you --

KING: All right, let me get a break, guys.

GUPTA: Is this what you --


MOORE: Not if we --

KING: We have a few minutes left --

MOORE: Not if we keep -- not if we keep spending $100 billion a year on a war, no. We won't have money for our own people.

KING: All right.

That's --

MOORE: We have to reprioritize things.

KING: That's another topic.

We have a few minutes left. And I'll get back to Michael Moore --

MOORE: It's connected.

KING: -- and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And maybe we'll do a lot more on this one night soon, as it deserves all of our attention.

Don't go away.


KING: We have a few moments remaining. Dr. Gupta, Michael Moore said that many American doctors are demoralized by the current U.S. Health care system, that a lot of them flat out hate it.

Do you agree?

GUPTA: Well, I think for some of the reasons Michael just talked about, with the fact that we have to sometimes go to -- to people outside the system, people who may not be familiar with the patient's care, to get approval for certain things. There's been a lack of autonomy. I'm a neurosurgeon. I sense that very profoundly.

And I think, yes, I mean there's a lot of problems with the system. The least -- I mean one that we certainly have to mention, obviously, the uninsured problem. I mean it breaks your heart to see --

KING: Yes.

GUPTA: -- to see how many people don't have basic health care insurance. And it needs fixing.

KING: Yes.

Michael, do you think maybe you overreacted to Sanjay's piece?

MOORE: No. I am sorry we've taken so much time trying to correct his facts here tonight instead of talking about the real issue. People can go to my Web site and you can see point by point where he was wrong on everything.

But I think the real discussion we should have, Larry -- and maybe we can do this again -- is to talk about what Sanjay just brought up in terms of the 47 million who don't have insurance. Eighteen thousand people die every year for no other reason other than the fact that they don't have insurance. Medical bills are now the number one cause of bankruptcy in this country.

And if I -- if I could, I would just like to say one thing about these wait times in Canada. They always talk about how you've got to wait longer in Canada, which is true for some things that are not emergencies.

But the reason why you have a little bit longer wait in Canada is because everybody is in line, because they cover everybody.

In our country, we've removed 47 million people from the line. And any time you remove 47 million people from a line, you're going to have less wait in line. Those of us who have insurance have a less wait time because 47 million of our citizens aren't there in front of us in line. That's the --

KING: Good point.

MOORE: That's wrong and it's immoral.

KING: Sanjay, good point?

GUPTA: I think it's worth bringing up the numbers. I think Michael is right. I think, you know, for a cardiac catheterization, for example, Michael, which is something you and I both might need one day in our lives, you wait six days if it's sort of an emergency in Canada, and up to 60 days for it to be elective.

I don't know what you think about those numbers. In the United States, on average -- and I understand the un-insurance problem. I get it. I hear what you're saying.

But it can take about a day for someone whose non-emergent and a few hours for someone who is emergent.

These are the facts. These are the numbers, Michael. I mean if you have a heart problem, where would you rather be?

If you were having chest pain right now and you needed a heart catheterization, would you want to be waiting six days, up to 60 days? Or do you want to be taken care of within hours or a day?

MOORE: If I were -- if I were in England, 71 percent of the people there get to see the doctor that day or the next day. In Australia, it's 66 percent. And in these -- all these countries, other than Canada, are better than us at this. And they spend less money on it than we do.

So, you know, I mean, I know we would like to feel like we're number one. And, you know, Larry, you asked me if there's anything I regret about yesterday with Wolf. And I -- I do feel bad about it asking him to apologize on behalf of all the media to the American people about the war.

I mean I've been wondering for, you know, three or four years when somebody from the media was just going to say, hey, we're sorry we didn't ask those questions. And I didn't mean to put that on Wolf, to be the lone representative of all that I think is wrong with our mainstream media right now. So, and they (INAUDIBLE) --

KING: And one thing we should clear up. You know, you're saying it well.

Dr. Gupta, we have less than a minute, and we should clear up -- have you ever had an effect by the fact of who the sponsor is on what you report?

GUPTA: No. I have no contact at all with the sponsor. They've never affected my judgment. We did the story, the "Sicko" fact check piece -- it was completely just -- just our own editorial pursuits on this.

MOORE: Except --

GUPTA: And --

MOORE: Except -- except, let me say this, the one expert that you had in the piece is a person from a think tank group who is a big Republican contributor. He's done business with Blue Cross, with Avantis, with these other groups.

I mean don't you have a right as a journalist or a responsibility, actually, to tell the public when you're using an expert, this person is a Republican, he's with a think tank --

GUPTA: Well --

MOORE: -- that's connected to (INAUDIBLE) --

KING: OK, we're --


KING: Sanjay, we have 20 seconds.

GUPTA: He's with a think tank -- You know, his only affiliation --

KING: Hold it, Michael.

GUPTA: His only affiliation is with Vanderbilt University. We checked it, Michael. We checked his conflict of interest. We do ask those questions.

MOORE: I'll --

GUPTA: Whether or not we disclose it to you on the (INAUDIBLE) --

MOORE: I'll put that all up on the site, too.


KING: I'll tell you what, guys --

GUPTA: Please do.

KING: We're going to do this again. And we're going to have a major discussion on health care with both of you.

And thank you both --

MOORE: All right. Good.

KING: -- very much.

GUPTA: Hey, Michael --

MOORE: I hope so.


GUPTA: thanks for raising the issue, Michael.

I hope people vote their conscience at the ballot box (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Michael Moore and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

MOORE: Thank you.

KING: One quick reminder --

MOORE: Thank you for (INAUDIBLE).

KING: You can download our latest pod cast by going to or find it on

Up next, prison, infidelity and violence -- all ingredients of a true love story that inspired a documentary you will not believe, even after you see it.

Meet the couple in question when LARRY KING LIVE returns.


KING: You hire someone to throw lye, is that what you specify, throw lye in her face?


KING: What did you ask?

B. PUGACH: I asked that she be beaten up.



KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Burt and Linda Pugach, the saga of their twisted relationship is the focus of an incredibly compelling new documentary titled "Crazy Love."

Let me give you the nutshell of their story. In 1957 the married Burt spots single Linda and goes ga-ga. He woos her. Linda holds out for marriage. Eventually, she dumps Burt and gets engaged to somebody else. Then in June, a thug hired by Burt throws lye in Linda's face, maiming her. Burt is tried and convicted. He spends 14 years in prison. IN 1974, he is paroled. And during two TV interviews, he proposes to Linda. And in November of 1974 Burt and Linda get married.

Burt, you were married, right?


KING: You spot Linda?


KING: What happened? B. PUGACH: I went ga-ga.


B. PUGACH: She had the most gorgeous face in the world. She looked like Elizabeth Taylor, just completely beautiful. I had never seen a girl as beautiful as her.

LINDA PUGACH: I was waiting for one of my girlfriends to meet up with me and along came Bert, and said something very strange or very weird to me which I did not understand, something about inland on the town. I didn't know what the hell he was talking about. I thought he was very weird.


B. PUGACH: I saw her. I was extremely attracted to her. And from the moment we met, we started going out together.

KING: Did she know you were married?

B. PUGACH: Not at beginning but subsequently she did.

KING: Did you get divorced?

B. PUGACH: It was very difficult because at that time you had to prove adultery and I couldn't prove adultery. And I couldn't prove it with my life.

KING: Were you in love with him, Linda?

L. PUGACH: That's hard to say. He was fun. He was fantastic. He showed me things that other boys that I dated didn't.


L. PUGACH: He would pick me up in the morning to take me for breakfast and drop me off at where I worked. He then would reappear at lunchtime to take me out for lunch. Then at 5:00 closing, there he was again, taking me back to my house to change my clothes and we'd go out.

B. PUGACH: And we went every week. We'd be going to the club during the week, the Latin Quarter, you know, really all the nice places.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Burt was such an attraction as compared to the boys we went out with.

B. PUGACH: I would buy convertibles to be sharp so the girls would like me, powder blue caddy convertibles. I would have a new one every year. I was making about 40, 50, up to 80,000 a year when the average person was making 4,000.


L. PUGACH: He had a nightclub. He had -- I don't know, all sorts of things, right? He had three cars. He...

KING: Did you ask him to get divorced or try to get divorced?

L. PUGACH: He told me he was getting a divorce. And he tricked me. And I took his index number. I wrote it down, gave it to my mom, and I said here. He said he's gotten a divorce, an Alabama divorce. And she said she wanted to check it out. She checked it out. She said don't do this immediately. It takes a while until this all transpires.


L. PUGACH: And finally my mother came back with the information. These were false papers. Nothing in Alabama had ever been filed. I said, you know what, you have been deceiving me. Your papers are not legal papers. What the heck is going on here? He said, "Well, I gave you these because I have a New York divorce pending. And in New York, divorce takes some time. But I promise you this is the real thing." I said, "You better forget this. I mean, I just have no more patience with you and get out of my face."


KING: You hired someone to throw lye -- is that what you specified, throw lye in her face?

B. PUGACH: No. I asked that she be beaten up.

KING: Why?

B. PUGACH: OK. I was at that time -- the pressure on me was a reaction from all the pressure on me. I know we've got a short show so I can't go into the details.

KING: But essentially why?

B. PUGACH: There were about 300 people chosen at random for professional misconduct. I was one of them.

KING: You were in trouble?

B. PUGACH: I was in trouble.

KING: So why harm her?

B. PUGACH: And my daughter turned out retarded. And when you say why harm her, because I was crazy at the time. There was enough pressure on me that made me snap.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was so happy because she was told she had a package for her engagement. That's what it was. So she went to the door and her mother was behind her.

L. PUGACH: I thought it was a gift from Larry. And I was getting dressed to go to work. My hands were busy behind my back making a French knot in my hair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he can't have her, no one else will.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody can have her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody is going to have her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said that, "If I can't have her, I'll see to it that nobody will."


KING: Does it hurt to have lye thrown on you?

L. PUGACH: It burns. It's an acid.

KING: Did it leave bad scars?

L. PUGACH: No. My face is what it was then. Unfortunately, my vision went.

KING: So you're blind?

L. PUGACH: Yes, I am.

KING: Did you know he had something to do with it?

L. PUGACH: Absolutely.

KING: Knew it right away?

L. PUGACH: Absolutely.

KING: Did you go to his trial?

L. PUGACH: Of course I did.

KING: Testify?

L. PUGACH: Yes, indeed.

KING: Happy to see him go to prison?

L. PUGACH: Oh, delighted.

KING: We'll be right back with Burt and Linda Pugach. They're the subjects of the compelling new documentary "Crazy Love." Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're difficult. They're screaming and yelling all the time.

L. PUGACH: Burt, where's my coffee?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it's a joy or a punishment, I really don't know.


B. PUGACH: Sensation.

L. PUGACH: Does your wife know what you're doing all the time?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you please welcome Burt and Linda Pugach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She calls him Pugie. She seems to say sweet things to him. And I know he's good to her in certain ways, you know, with her medicines and different things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You wouldn't call it an ugly story. You would call it a beautiful story, well, partially ugly. How would you...

L. PUGACH: We've been through so much and I think we'll stick it out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why after what he did are you there today?

L. PUGACH: Because Burt is a good husband. And in my way I probably do love him. I just find it hard to use that word.


KING: The documentary is "Crazy Love." I wonder how they got that title.

Anyway, OK. Beyond the physical toll of this attack, what did it do to you emotionally?

L. PUGACH: My attitude is, you know, you've got to go on with life. And eventually the police -- I had police protection for over three and a half years around the clock.

KING: While -- he wasn't in prison yet?

L. PUGACH: He was in prison. And they still -- I don't know. You tell me and we'll both know. But they never -- they were afraid because they messed up. I had gone to the police station and begged them help me. I need help. They won't do anything for me. They told me, lady, we can't. He's a lawyer.


B. PUGACH: I got took down to Mora (ph) in leg irons to be in Sing-Sing. The guard behind me said, "If you move your hand, I'll smash your head open with this club. You're no lawyer over here. If I catch you trying to be a lawyer with any of these inmates, I'm going to bust you and bust you good."


KING: Now you're in jail. Do you get divorced in jail?

B. PUGACH: My wife did, yes.

KING: She gets a divorce, OK. Now you call Linda while in jail?

B. PUGACH: Well, you weren't permitted to call at that time, not until the Attica Riots in '71. And I went in about '59 and '60. I wrote to her.

KING: You wrote to her. Love letters?


KING: Did you say you were sorry?


KING: And then did you finally get to call her?

B. PUGACH: I did after the Attica Riots when the prisons became more lenient.

KING: Changed the system.


KING: Did you have any feelings for him?

L. PUGACH: Not at that point, no.

KING: When did those feelings come back?

L. PUGACH: When I finally saw him on TV. He was a changed person. And that was on "The Marvin Scott Show."

KING: You were you a guest on that show?


KING: You're out of prison now?


KING: And on that show you're discussing what you did and you're feeling some remorse?

B. PUGACH: Right. And I proposed to her on TV because I could not do it in person. Remember, a condition of parole was not to go near her, not to talk to her and so forth. KING: You proposed on TV. What did you think of that, Linda?

L. PUGACH: I thought this is very weird, but he looked so good. Prison agreed with him. They made a new person out of him. He had weight lifted in there. He really looked smashing.

KING: So you were turned on?

L. PUGACH: Well, I thought it was interesting.

KING: We'll be right back with Burt and Linda Pugach. They're the subjects of the compelling new documentary "Crazy Love." Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He looked at me. He looked at the camera and he said, "Linda, I know you're out there. Linda, I love you. Linda, I want to marry you."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was incredible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't believe it. I said, oh, my God, this is even sicker.




L. PUGACH: Burt was relentless. He would not stop calling. He would not stop following me. It was a time of hell for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was always there either on the phone, or in person, of in her hallway, or -- a lot of creepy things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I received so many calls from Burt telling me what he planned to do with her if she wouldn't go back to him.

B. PUGACH: I'm desperate. And I've got to figure out some way to get her back. And I was willing to get her back on any terms.


KING: What was your first date like?

B. PUGACH: Very good. Rita Kessler had arranged it. She had called me up. Remember, I can't initiate anything myself.

KING: Right.

B. PUGACH: And Rita Kessler had called me up and invited me over to dinner, and then arranged the double date. And we got along from the first minute.

KING: Weren't you a little nervous?

L. PUGACH: Of course.

B. PUGACH: You're darn right. When I went over to Rita's house, I didn't know whether I was walking into an ambush of somebody trying to get even.

KING: By the way, did the guy who threw the lye go to jail?


KING: Yes. Do you feel bad about that?



Linda, what was the date like for you?

L. PUGACH: It was interesting. And the minute he came, he wanted to get engaged and I said, "No, let's call it. Let's just -- let's just talk a little bit. Let's see."

KING: You were really bamboozled for her.

B. PUGACH: I was. I still am.

KING: You're 80 now?

B. PUGACH: Eighty years old now.

KING: And she's 70?


KING: And you're still nuts about her?


KING: So on that date you proposed?


KING: What did you say, Linda?

L. PUGACH: I wasn't ready.

KING: How many dates did you have?

B. PUGACH: About three or four she was ready.

L. PUGACH: Come on. Come on.

KING: Did you go on a honeymoon?

B. PUGACH: Yes. We went to Las Vegas, I think, the MGM. KING: What was it like to finally be together with the guy who tried to harm you, Linda?

L. PUGACH: You know once I decided that I was going back with Burt, that I had made up my mind that was not going to enter my mind, you know. We've got to move on. It's now 15 years later, thereabouts, and we're different people. And we figured we're going to make it.

KING: We'll be right back with Burt and Linda Pugach. They're the subjects of the compelling new documentary "Crazy Love." And we'll be going by with our own Robi Ludwig. Don't go away.


B. PUGACH: Of course, that's what caused the breakup.

L. PUGACH: I said I just have no patience with you, get out of my face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just flipped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was always either on the phone or in her hallway, a lot of creepy things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said I will cancel the order to kill you if you have dinner and sex with me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said if I can't have her, nobody will.

L. PUGACH: I am now damaged merchandise.

B. PUGACH: I was arrested, total 30 years in prison.

L. PUGACH: I felt it wasn't long enough.




B. PUGACH: All of my dreams, I walk with my arms about Linda. With one lucky break, I'll make Linda mine.


KING: By the way, this film "Crazy Love," is now playing everywhere. Our guests are Burt and Linda Pugach now married; and Dr. Robi Ludwig joins us, a psychotherapist and best-selling author of "Till Death Do Us Part: Love, Marriage & The Mind of The Killer Spouse."

Is this a killer spouse?

DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Almost. It almost ended up that way.

KING: How do you explain this to yourself?

LUDWIG: You know what; people are very, very complex. I mean what's interesting about Burt is he was a love addict and felt very dependent on Linda almost immediately. So it was almost like this infantile dependence. And what's fascinating about this love story, if you will, is that the intensity of that honeymoon stage never seemed to dissipate, which is very unusual, when you think about it. And a lot of people fall head over heels for a period of time and then that kind of, you know, enters into a more normal state.

KING: Why did he harm her?

LUDWIG: Because he didn't want anyone else to have her. And probably at the moment, it felt like without Linda there was no life, that Linda, almost like an addiction, gave him that euphoric feeling. And without her he couldn't imagine life feeling good.

Am I right, Burt?

B. PUGACH: I guess so.

LUDWIG: You bet. I'm right.

KING: Are you surprised that it still exists?

LUDWIG: It's so interesting because that's what so many people want to have. I think Linda always makes him work for it. He always has to chase her a little bit.

KING: Do you, Linda? Come on, Linda.

L. PUGACH: I don't know.

KING: Is this like getting even, Linda?

L. PUGACH: Oh...

LUDWIG: I think she makes him work for it, you know, even to this day. That's my sense, that she's kind of -- she's a tough lady, and he doesn't -- he doesn't have it so easy in a way.

B. PUGACH: Am I permitted to agree?

KING: Yes.

LUDWIG: Sure, I'll give you permission.

KING: One reviewer said the documentary is a freak show of a fairytale. How do you react to that?

B. PUGACH: Maybe it is, I don't know. His reaction, and probably it is. Probably -- I can't dispute or I can't challenge anyone who finds this a very unusual event. I mean I can't even picture myself doing what I did. I just can't. I've never been that. And what can I possibly say? I did it. It was horrible. And I was crazy. And that's all I could explain. That's all I can.

KING: Robi, they have been together 33 years. Can we now call this a marriage that works?

LUDWIG: Well, I think Linda and Burt would be in the best place to answer that question. But clearly...

KING: They look like it.

LUDWIG: ... you know what, they're meeting each other's needs. And it might look odd to the rest of us. But if it works for them and they're not harming anyone and they're meeting each other's needs, clearly that's a form of a working marriage.

KING: The first night together physically, was that hard for you, Linda?


KING: You had a hot ticket here, right?


KING: Your relatives, how did they take to this?

B. PUGACH: Her mother and I became very close, very close. You can't imagine. Mine, forget about it.

KING: Didn't like it?

B. PUGACH: They have been estranged in effect from me ever since.

KING: Linda, are you in good health?

L. PUGACH: No. I'm coming apart at the seams.

KING: I know the feeling.

Burt, are you in good health?


KING: Robi, would be it safe to say that this couple has made it?

LUDWIG: I think so.

Would you agree with me?

L. PUGACH: I think so.

LUDWIG: She's still going to make him work for it. But, you know, that works for them, and so who am I to argue.

KING: Burt and Linda Pugach, the saga of their twisted relationship is the focus of the compelling new documentary "Crazy Love."

And we thank Dr. Robi Ludwig, author of "Till Death Do Us Part: Love, Marriage & The Mind of The Killer Spouse." What an appropriate book name?

That's tonight's edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Anderson Cooper is the host of "360." He's doing it out of New York. He's there right now.