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CNN Larry King Live

A Mother's Three Children Are Murdered; Dr Phil Reacts to Current Stories in the News

Aired May 01, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Dr. Phil gets real and keeps it that way. His tough-minded talk on the controversial Texas polygamy cult and new allegations that boys, as well as girls, were sexually abused.
The incest dungeon horror story in Austria -- is there any word from the father accused in this case but monster?

Plus, the Miley Cyrus semi-nude photo scandal, the painful split between Obama and his former pastor and much more.

But first, three beautiful young children deliberately drowned in a hotel bathtub. Charged in this shocking murder, their own father. And now exclusive -- their grieving mother speaks out about the terrible crime that shattered her life just a month ago and about her estranged husband, the man accused of committing it.

It is all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We're in Washington with Dr. Amy Castillo. Her estranged husband, Mark, is charged with first degree murder in the drowning deaths of their three young children. He will be arraigned May 19th.

With her is Reverend Zeke Wharton, administrator of the Forcey Christian Middle School, the school that the three Castillo children attended. It's been just about a month since they died.

Dr. Castillo -- who, by the way, is a pediatrician -- how are you holding up?

AMY CASTILLO, ESTRANGED HUSBAND CHARGED WITH DROWNING THEIR THREE CHILDREN IN HOTEL TUB: Fairly well. Fairly well. I think I'm still in shock, somewhat, part of the time. Sometimes I get it and sometimes I still don't quite understand that they aren't coming back.

KING: The hardest thing in the world is to lose a child, right?


KING: But to lose all three...


KING: Triple hard.

CASTILLO: And it's sudden. And it was done by a person who I did love at one time. KING: Let's talk about Mark.

How long were you married?

CASTILLO: Ten years.

KING: Was it like love at first sight?

Was it a whirlwind courtship?

CASTILLO: I would say yes. We met playing volleyball, started dating immediately, got married after six months and we purposely chose to have three children.

KING: You wanted three?

CASTILLO: Yes, we did.

KING: Problems at all at the start?

CASTILLO: I would say in the beginning it was a little rough, just because were a little older about 31, 32, and we were pretty independent. But after the first two years, we really had some good years, I believe.

KING: Did things start to go wrong?

CASTILLO: Really, it was when I became pregnant with a third child.

KING: That's the girl?

CASTILLO: Yes. And I was on bed rest. And I was on bed rest for five or six months. And I was in pain and depressed and -- not really depressed but just bored. And he really had the responsibility of taking care of a 1- and 3-year-old boy at this point. And I was laying around and bored. And he started getting agitated and spending a lot of money and getting depressed himself.

KING: Did you talk about it?

CASTILLO: We did. And I asked him many, many times to get counseling. And I told him we need some marriage counseling, we really need some help. And I asked Zeke to come over and talk to us and help us out.

KING: Now, Zeke, you're not their pastor, right?



But the kids were in your class in school?

They were in your school. WHARTON: Yes, they were in our school and Mark and Amy and I met at church about seven years ago. And, in fact, we developed a close relationship over the years and did spend a lot of time with the family, as well.

KING: Did you sense the trouble?

WHARTON: Yes. Oh, yes. Yes.

KING: OK, when did it get real bad?

What happened?

CASTILLO: I decided that -- well, when I went back to work, he decided to stay at home and take care of the three children. And over those few months, he started staying out all night, spending a lot of money, getting very agitated, saying that he wanted to kill himself on a regular basis. And it got so bad that I said I've got to do something.

And I said the next time he comes home at 5:00 in the morning and acts like this, I'm going to take the kids and leave. And so I did. I told him to go back out the door. I put all the children in the van and I drove to North Carolina. And I didn't tell him where we were until I got there. And I called him I said we've left and you need to get treatment.

And instead of getting treatment, he decided to drive around the country and live in the car for a few weeks. I didn't know where he was. I couldn't get him to get any treatment. I called the police. No one was interested in finding him.

Finally, he called me from a hotel in Virginia and told me where he was and that he had duct tape and a knife and ant poisoning and that he was, at that moment, going to kill himself.

So, finally, I called the police down there and he ended up in the hospital for a week.

KING: Did the police go and get him?

CASTILLO: Yes, they did.


When did you start to fear for either yourself or the children -- or did you fear for them?

CASTILLO: Well, I feared for them at that point. That's why I finally left the house, because he was staying home and taking -- he wanted to stay home and take care of them while I was going to work. And I called into work several times. And, to me, this is how God speaks through people. The lady answering the phone at work -- it was like the third time I call into work and said my husband is really acting bizarre and I'm not going to be able to come to work today.

And she said, how many times are you going to let him behave that way before you do something about it?

KING: All right.

Then did you go to the authorities? Did you try to get the kids so he couldn't see him?

CASTILLO: Well, when he got out of the hospital, he told me he wouldn't give me any information. He refused to take medication while he was there. He refused to get any treatment. So that's when I got a lawyer. And it took time to get a lawyer, to serve papers. So I went and lived in Zeke and his wife's home for a week.

KING: With the kids?


KING: And were you attempting legally to keep the kids away from him?


KING: Was that your goal?

CASTILLO: Yes, yes. But it took time. And it takes a long time to hire a lawyer, to serve papers.

KING: Did the courts turn you down?

CASTILLO: They didn't at that point, but that was two years ago. But I had to hide for a while before they helped.

KING: Did they eventually turn you down?

Did they say he can be with his children?

CASTILLO: Yes, they did.

KING: And did you -- were you angered at that ruling or did you hope he was better?

CASTILLO: You know, for the first six months, I was hoping he would get better. And so for a while, he had supervised visitation. But he said he'd get counseling and it just went back and forth and back and forth. At the end of six months was when he said the worst thing I could do to you would be to kill the children and not you, so that you would have to live without them.

And that evening he took Austin, the four-year-old -- well, he was three at the time. He actually took him out of the house without my knowledge and I didn't know where he was for an evening. At that point, I decided that's it, I'm going to go back to court and try again.

So I moved into someone else's house for a while and hid the children.

KING: Were you still practicing your pediatrics?

CASTILLO: Yes, I was.

KING: We'll be right back with Dr. Amy Castillo and her friend, Reverend Zeke Wharton, on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.


KING: Sidney Poitier tomorrow night.

Dr. Phil will join us in the next segment to get his input on this extraordinary matter with Dr. Amy Castillo and Reverend Zeke Wharton.

Court documents say that Mark was diagnosed with a mood disorder -- narcissistic personality disorder, borderline and histrionic personality traits.

Why wasn't that enough to keep him away?

WHARTON: One of the things about Mark is that when he was being evaluated, he was an intelligent person. He was articulate. So he had a way of...

KING: He fooled them?

WHARTON: Yes, he had a way of covering it up.

KING: But they said this about him.

WHARTON: Yes. Yes.

KING: But that didn't keep him away from them.

WHARTON: Not enough.

KING: Did the system fail you?

CASTILLO: I believe it did. Well, to answer your other question, also, he hadn't actually hurt them before.

KING: Never?

CASTILLO: I almost wished he had done a little something to hurt them that wasn't too severe so that I would have something to use in court.

KING: All right.

Take me to the day they passed. What happened? He had them OK? I mean it...

CASTILLO: He was -- he had visitation on a Saturday from 12:00 to 8:30. At 8:30, he did not bring them home and I started calling the police, because he usually brought them home at 8:30, although the last time he visited, he brought them home four hours late, which was unusual.

I called the police twice that evening. I called them the next morning.

KING: What did they do, nothing?

CASTILLO: The first time I called they didn't do anything. The second time I called, they did go to his -- the room he was renting and they confirmed that nobody was there. And that was it. The next morning they went out to the room he was renting again and they confirmed that he was not there. And they told me there was nothing that they could do, that I could e-mail them the next day if they still didn't show up.

KING: So how did you find out what happened?

CASTILLO: A policeman came to my house later on that day. And I wondered why they were interested all of a sudden. They told me they found the children and I had to come with them to Baltimore.

Luckily, Zeke's wife Cheryl was with me. And they took me to Baltimore.

KING: In their squad car?

CASTILLO: Yes. And they told me we were just going to get the children. But they didn't tell me anything else. And they brought me in a room and just checked my identification. And they had a man walk in who said all of your children are dead.

KING: Just like that?

CASTILLO: And that was it. And I looked at Cheryl's face like did she just hear the same thing that I heard?

And I kept saying are you sure none of them made it? Are you sure none of them are alive? Not one of them made it?

They said none of them made it.

KING: They were drowned, right?

CASTILLO: Yes. And then they couldn't tell me...

KING: They then -- did they tell you then?

CASTILLO: They did not tell me. They just said and your husband did it. But they didn't tell me until maybe two days later that they were drowned.

KING: Did you have to counsel her at this point?

CASTILLO: Yes. Yes. And Amy has been very blessed to have so many people around her supporting her. And, you know, fortunately, my wife had gotten to her house literally moments before the police officers showed up, so that she was able to be Amy during that time. And then Cheryl and I were able to meet with Amy very quickly.

KING: Did they let you see the children?

CASTILLO: Actually, they didn't even ask.

KING: Didn't you ask?

CASTILLO: I really -- even once they were in the funeral home, I really felt I could not deal with it. So my brother identified the children for me.

KING: Did you speak or listen or talk to Mark?

CASTILLO: No, I have not.

KING: Has Mark said anything publicly?

CASTILLO: Nobody knows any -- well, the only thing that he said initially, that is known, is that he did it to get me and that he thinks he might be evil. Those are the only things he said initially. And after that, there was a gag order placed so that no one can mention anything that he said. And he has not tried to contact me. So that's all I know.

KING: What do you think? What happened to him?

Who do you think -- you're a doctor. I know you're not a psychiatrist, but you're...


KING: What do you think?

CASTILLO: You know, OK, Zeke I have discussed that. Do you think maybe you could explain that one for me...

KING: What do you think?

CASTILLO: ...because he knows what I think.

WHARTON: Mark actually had a saying himself, that there's -- everyone has two dogs inside of them, the good dog and the bad dog. And you have to feed the good dog. And Mark made some deliberate choices not to feed the good dog but to the other direction. And he actually, at one point, said I'm taking a vacation from God. I know I'm making bad decisions.

And when we -- I think when we turn away from God and we continue to make bad choices, that's leading us down a very bad path.

He cut himself off from all community. Unlike Amy, who was -- is being surrounded by community in the aftermath, Mark cut himself off from all his friends. He cut himself off from all the people that cared about him. He refused to get help. And, as a result, it ended up in the destruction that it did.

KING: He tried suicide? Did he?

CASTILLO: Oh, he did. I mean he did two years ago and then he did in the room after he killed the children. He tried to kill himself twice. He stabbed himself in the neck and took a bottle of Tylenol.

KING: The police told you this?

CASTILLO: Yes. It was in the news -- that part was in the newspaper.

KING: Why -- did you ever ask the police officer why he was so curt?

CASTILLO: Oh, you mean why they didn't want to help?

KING: No. The cop that came in said your children are dead.


KING: Whew. I mean that -- that's brainless.

CASTILLO: I mean I really think -- I don't know what good way there is to tell someone...

KING: No, but not that way.

CASTILLO: I mean I just sat there and cried for a while.

And then I looked up said well, so what am I supposed to do?

I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I said I can't live without my children. I cannot live without my children.

KING: What...

CASTILLO: But yet I was.

KING: What should happen to Mark?

CASTILLO: Well, the detectives have come and asked me about how I feel about the death penalty. And I'm not morally opposed to the death penalty. However, there is the ethical side and the practical side. Again, I don't have a problem with it.

However, in the State of Maryland -- I mean it just seems -- like they say it's very difficult on the family, the death penalty. It takes 20 years and it's very difficult. They come, they talk, they spend years taking to the family. And then there's a moratorium on it anyway.

So life without parole is probably more practical. But I hear Mark, at least the day after, said he wants the death penalty so.

KING: We'll take a break. And Dr. Phil will lend us his input, with Dr. Amy Castillo and Reverend Zeke Wharton on LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.


DR. PHIL MCGRAW, HOST, "DR. PHIL": You said something on that tape that I thought was interesting.



KING: A fund, by the way, has been set up to honor the memory of Anthony and Austin Athena Castillo and to help their mother through this very difficult time. For information -- you see it on the screen -- go to That's It's all one word, but the number 4 instead of F-O-R. We appreciate all you can do.

Joining us now from Los Angeles, our friend, Dr. Phil McGraw. He's in the sixth season of his syndicated daytime show. He's got a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, founder of the Dr. Phil Foundation.

All right, what do you make of this?

MCGRAW: Well, Larry, I think this is obviously something that's just shocked the entire country and the entire world. And, Amy, I just want to say how much we all appreciate your willingness to come and talk about this, because I think you have such an important message for mothers who are living in a similar kind of situation.

What is it you have to say to mothers that may be in a threatening situation like this?

CASTILLO: Well, first of all, I really think, number one, is you really have to be ready at all times just to know where you stand with God and you have to teach your children the same thing. For me, my faith in Christ is what's going to get me through this.


CASTILLO: It's what's going to get me through all of this.

KING: Not diminished by this action?

CASTILLO: No. It's really what's going to get me through this.

KING: Is that what keeps you going?

CASTILLO: Yes, and my children had faith. And I know -- I'm not worried about them. I feel like they're taken care of. I'm sad that I'm separated from them for a while, so.

KING: You believe the same right, Reverend?

WHARTON: Certainly.

KING: Dr. Phil, do you regard it extraordinary when faith plays such an important part?

MCGRAW: Well, Larry, I think that faith is such a strength and such a comfort for Amy and other people in these difficult situations. And I am so glad and proud to hear her say what she's saying about that. And, you know, Amy, you said that the two boys were talking about going to be with Jesus when they died before this ever happened.

And to have that centered in them at such a young age is something that you must be very, very proud of and must give you a lot of peace at this point.

You know, Larry, a question that I have for Amy -- and I'm not sure how you'll answer this, but how do you feel about your husband at this point?

In this moment, knowing what's happened, what are your feelings toward him?

CASTILLO: It's really difficult to figure out who he is. There's the man that I married that I love and there's the man that has done this. And it's hard to reconcile that. All I know is that God can forgive anyone, so I figure at some point I would be able to do that, also, although right now, of course, I feel a lot of anger. So I'm confused as to which person he is.

KING: Dr. Phil, how does she go on?

I can't imagine losing a child. I cannot fathom it.

MCGRAW: Yes, Larry, I think anyone that goes through this -- and one thing, Amy, that you will never hear me say is that I know how you feel. Because I think unless someone has actually been through this and walked in your shoes, it would be presumptuous to say that. But, you know, I think, you know this is a marathon and not a sprint. And for you, as a woman of faith that has such conviction that your children are safe and that they're in a good place and that they are free from any pain and harm and hurt, I think is a comfort that you're hanging onto very, very strongly at this point.

KING: Do you intend, Amy, to go back into practice?

CASTILLO: I do. I would like to. I love being a pediatrician.

KING: That will put you around little children again, though.

CASTILLO: Yes, but children are everywhere. I can't avoid them forever.

KING: Doctor, are you going to say I'm sorry? Phil?

MCGRAW: You know, Amy, I'm just wondering, at this point, when you are answering these questions and talking about this, you seem, you know, very calm and collected and peaceful about this whole thing.

KING: Yes.

MCGRAW: And I think there are millions of mothers around the world watching right now that are just in awe of your courage...

KING: Yes, I agree.

MCGRAW: ...and how you're holding -- how you're holding all of this together.

What do you have to say about that?

KING: Yes.

CASTILLO: I cry a lot when I'm alone. So I do a lot of my mourning when I'm alone. And when I saw the pictures of my children on the screen, it was very sad. But I have -- I have so many people supporting me that I have to ask people to give me a few minutes to be by myself.

KING: Is this hard for you?

Was it hard to come here?

CASTILLO: Oh, yes.

KING: Yes.

Dr. Phil, I know we're not into analysis and we haven't analyzed him, but how do you explain someone, just from what you know, Mark?

MCGRAW: Well, you know, I've studied this situation with just basically what's in the media.. And we know that this is not a kind of acute situation. We know that Mark had some psychiatric diagnoses that were applied to him as far back as when he was in the military. I think this has been a life-long decompensation for him and something that reads to point where all reason and all rationality was gone from this man.

And, you know, I believe, Amy, it was in July of '06 that he was hospitalized for suicidal ideation and destructive sort of thoughts. And you started a marathon through the courts at that point.

But what shocked me is in, as recently as October of '07, you were actually held in contempt and fined by the courts for keeping these children away from him. And it is -- it's -- as a professional, it's astounding to me that he could have such a psychiatric history, make the comment that he made to you at Christmas about hurting you -- hurting you by killing the children and then yet here you are getting fined by the court.

Is that just overwhelmingly frustrating to you?

KING: Bizarre. CASTILLO: I continued writing letters up until February 2008, also, about my concerns about his escalating behavior that were still ignored. So it wasn't just last October.

KING: Dr. Phil will be with us for the rest of the program.

Thank you for coming, Reverend Zeke.

We appreciate it.

Amy, nothing but the best.

CASTILLO: Thank you.

KING: A couple of things we just want to say. The charges against him include -- against Mark -- include three counts of first degree murder. He could face the death penalty. His attorney has given us this statement: "On behalf of my client, Mark Castillo, I employ everyone to reserve judgment until all the relevant facts and circumstances surrounding this tragic event have been fully explored and investigated. I remain concerned about Mark Castillo's physical, emotional and mental state."

And we tried -- we asked the Montgomery -- our program asked the Montgomery County Circuit Court for a statement on the handling of the Castillo child custody case and Amy's application for a protective order.

The court and the attorney it requested to review the case declined, saying it would not be appropriate to comment.

And don't forget that fund, -- all one word .org -- .com, rather.

So much in the news to talk about with Dr. Phil. When we come back, we'll get his take on lots of things.

Don't go away.


KING: The rest of the way with Dr. Phil, in his sixth season. By the way, a happy note, Dr. Phil was just nominated for a daytime Emmy for outstanding informative talk show.


MCGRAW: Thank you, Larry. Our staff works very, very hard. So I'm glad to see that.

KING: Any wrap up you want to do on this Castillo story?

MCGRAW: Well, I have to tell you, I know that everybody is shocked by this. And the thing that concerns me -- I really have two concerns about this whole thing. Number one is what the dialogue has been with the court, because this is not something that came out of the blue. This is something that had a very long ramp up. There was substantial information that a court could look at to determine whether or not there was a problem here.

But it's one of those situations where he had not been violent with the children before, which makes it very difficult for a court to come in, in violation of good public policy of keeping biological parents in the lives of their children, and do something. Yet, you wonder, where is the threshold. On my show, I always talk to people in a domestic violence situation, and say, look, don't think this doesn't happen to you. Don't think it just happens to people in the newspaper or across the country.

This domestic violence can wind up with these children being seriously injured or killed. And this is one of those cases where it just took place. And I hope every mother that is in a situation like this, or father, for that matter, but certainly mothers, realize that this can happen. I see that with Amy.

KING: Let's turn to the polygamy matter. If the allegations of abuse are true, do you see any problem with all of these children in foster care?

MCGRAW: I see huge problems with it, Larry. I think we're in a situation here that there is not necessarily a good option. Now, think about this: there are only a certain number of these children that were believed to be at risk. But, yet, all of the children were taken out and put into foster care.

Now, I've said this before, the statistics tell us that 73 percent of all children that go into foster care wind up on the street or in jail. So, that means that if you apply those numbers to these 416 children, 304 of them would be predicted to wind up on the street or in jail. Is that a good alternative? And I don't think it is. And I don't think that it makes sense to take all of the children out of this situation without doing a case-by-case study, to see which one of these children are at risk and which ones are not.

Now, clearly, the principles that seem to govern the FLDS would be imminent danger for these children. But somehow or another, you have to figure a way to train these people, create an open door policy, get monitoring, get access and try to get these children back with their biological mothers, but with protection, and monitoring.

KING: What do you think of the adult mothers?

MCGRAW: Well, at this point, so many of these mothers, Larry, grew up in this religious sect. So, they know nothing else. I mean, people say they look strange, because they walk around in kind of "Little House on the Prairie" type garb. They have unusual hair. They speak in very monotonic, scripted ways. This is all these women know. So many of them were born in this sect. All they have been exposed to are the forces, values and treatment that is indigenous to this sect. So, they don't know anything else. And they have been told that you, me, everybody on the outside world constitutes evil threats. So, at this point, I'm sure they're in a state of confusion. But it doesn't mean that they can't learn, that they can't be willing to adhere to some other guidelines. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. But some dialogue has to take place here.

KING: We turn to world wide horrors. We go across the sea to Austria. Outside of Vienna and our House of Horrors story; authorities say a man imprisoned his daughter for 24 years and fathered seven children. What's your read on this?

MCGRAW: Well, Larry, this is a whole other level of dysfunction. Think about this. We deal with pedophiles every day. We deal with people that will abuse a child or a number of children in a short period of time and sometimes as much as across a few years. But what we're talking about here is someone that has maintained a prison for not one, not two, but three, four, five, six and ultimately seven people across a quarter of a century.

This is a very seriously deranged, very seriously disturbed individual. And the question that you -- that you face here is, how in the world could people in this man's life, people in the neighborhood, people that interacted with him, not know that something was going wrong? And I think I understand why they don't. But that's the question that everybody has.

KING: When the guy is crazy evil, how do you type him?

MCGRAW: Well, at this point, this guy is clearly -- if everything that we're hearing about him is true, if all of these allegations are correct, this is a person with such a demented mentality about him, such a moral compass that is off of the track, that there's no telling what we don't know about this person, what we don't know about how -- what other things that he may have done.

Now, again, these are allegations. You haven't been there. I haven't been there. We don't know. But think about this; the reason that neighbors -- the reason that people at work and in his life don't recognize that something is going wrong is it's hard for normal people to even wrap their mind around, to even conceive that something like this could be going on. It just makes it very difficult for people to see what they don't have any construct for. They don't have any idea of how anything like this could even begin to happen.

KING: Dr. Phil is our guest. When we come back, we'll get his take on the Obama/Dr. Wright story. Don't go away.



MCGRAW: Are you stereotyping people? Because you say men your age are rigid, inflexible, pot-bellied with low libido. I'm six years older than you and I take offense to that. I don't have a pot belly. And I frankly think I'm flexible as a rubber hose, I mean lifestyle wise.


KING: The stand up comedy of Dr. Phil. Before we discuss this Obama and Wright story, let's take a call.

Evansville, Indiana, hello.

CALLER: Hi. My daughter and I are going through the same thing to protect my 14-year-old grandson from his father, who has threatened the same things that Mark did with Amy. I was just wondering, how bad does it have to get before someone will listen to you and help you?

MCGRAW: Well, first off, let me say that I'm sorry that you are in this situation. You have to gather as much evidence, as much credible evidence as you can. Whether it's to record them, to put nanny-cams in your home; you need to give the court something to sink their teeth into. What we have to understand, a temporary restraining order is not necessarily going to protect you, because I'll promise you, a bullet, a knife will go through that piece of paper just as quick as it would if it wasn't there. So don't let that give you a false sense of security.

But it does give you the ability to put the person in jail if you can get the police there before they do something. So, by all means, you want to use the legal system. You want to go and present as much as possible. But, Larry, something that we have to realize in defense of the courts is the courts get so many allegations when people are in a divorce, or a custody battle. Often times, it is unfounded. Often times, it's based on their resentment towards each other over affairs, infidelity or just the fact they're breaking up.

The courts are in a very difficult position here. Get what evidence you can. Take it to the court. Don't go in there hysterical. Just present your case, and protect your children as much as you can.

KING: You have a May sweeps show next Wednesday, male egos out of control. Some people see a lot of ego in Reverend Wright speaking out. What do you make of this Wright/Obama story? I know you don't take sides.

MCGRAW: I don't take sides about this. But I do look at the human behavior. And I think the psychology of this is very interesting and intriguing. You know, obviously, Reverend Wright is enjoying the focus, and is enjoying the media, because he's certainly stepping out and saying things that he has not said before.

And the problem that I think this creates in the psychology of the voters for Senator Obama is, they're saying, OK, if this is the person that for a number of years has been the spiritual mentor for Obama, if this is the person that has been riding on the spiritual soul, the spiritual slate of this individual, has he embraced those views? Is he someone that feels the way this mentor feels?

And I think he's got some real questions to answer about that. These are Reverend Wright's opinions, not Senator Obama's, and I don't think you should hold him accountable for that. But people are going to wonder whether or not, because he has chosen this man, has held counsel with him across the years, if he, in fact, embraces those views. And I think he's going to have to answer that very directly.

KING: What's your take on the tone of this campaign, what it's become?

MCGRAW: Well, you know, I think this is a very interesting campaign, in that it has gone on for such a long period of time. And usually, when you're in party primaries, the psychology is to say, I'm better than my fellow Democrat or my fellow Republican, not that they're bad, not that they're unworthy, just that I'm better. And I think what we're seeing here now is not Clinton destroying Obama or Obama destroying Clinton, but I think they're getting this thing stretched out long enough that they're actually beginning to hurt themselves. They're getting in situations that are fraught with danger, and I think the Democrats are doing themselves a big disservice by continuing this dialogue.

KING: We'll take a break. And when we come back, his thoughts on Miley Cyrus and those photographs in "Vanity Fair." We'll be right back with Dr. Phil.


KING: Let's take a call for Dr. Phil.

San Antonio, hello.

CALLER: Hello?

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: This is San Antonio.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: I want to talk to Dr. Phil and bring up the question that there are many churches here in San Antonio giving the same message as Reverend Wright. It's not just one person. This is a man who is really a spokesman for many. Could he please comment on that?

KING: Doctor?

MCGRAW: Well, I certainly can. And I think this is one of the things that Obama is going to have to make a decision about. Reverend Wright does speak for a definite sector of the populous and a definite sector of the voters. And to the extent that he distances himself from Wright, and says, no, this is divisive, this is not the message that I want to put forth, then he risk alienating those people who do subscribe to the thoughts that Reverend Wright is giving a voice to. So, he's going to have to make some decisions. You can't have it both ways.

This man has taken an extreme position. He's not the only one that does. And so, Senator Obama is going to have to make a decision. Does he risk losing that part of the voters to stay embraced by the main stream, or where does it come down? There's going to be some tough choices for him. I think he's made it in saying he distances himself from Reverend Wright at this point. We'll see how it plays out with those who agree with Reverend Wright.

KING: Your thoughts on the controversy over the semi-nude "Vanity Fair" photos of 15-year-old Disney star Miley Cyrus?

MCGRAW: Well, you know what, we live in very different times now in this generation than what you and I grew up in. The show that you played the clip from earlier, that we have on tomorrow, about the Cougars that are out seeking young men. This didn't happen a generation ago. It does now. And we do see kids in a different frame now than we have in the past.

But I tell you, I think it would be a very serious injustice to judge Miley Cyrus by this isolated circumstance and event. When you are that age, even with parents in the picture, and you have so many different people coming at you from so many different ways, you're not going to make good choices all the time. Was this the best thing for her to do? That's up to them to decide.

But I think this young lady has been an excellent role model. I think she has conducted herself very well. I think her father has done a good job of keeping his hand on her shoulder and guiding her through 99 percent of the things that she's done. I think she has been a good role model and I will think she will continue to be. I just hope people don't over react to this.

KING: It's the eve of May 1, and that means, of course, sweeps, and let's take a look at one of the shows you are going to air in May. It's titled spanking scandals.

Here, you take on a mother who admits that she disciplines out of anger -- watch.


MCGRAW: Tell me about the rage. Because it comes up in you. You get physically hot and enraged. True?


MCGRAW: Let me tell you what she said, dad; one time with Jake, I was so mad, it wasn't even over something major. I grabbed him by both arms. I shook him, was screaming in his face. I was afraid I was going to hurt him. Are you aware this is going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen it, yes.

MCGRAW: Then you're an abuser by association. Let me just be very honest about it. I don't intend to mince words here. You are not disciplining your children. You are punishing your children. You are abusing your children.


KING: Is there a lot of that?

MCGRAW: Unfortunately, there is, Larry, and I think that I've taken a very strong stand on my show against spanking children. And one of the reasons -- and I know a lot of people disagree with that. A lot of people say spare the rod, spoil the child. And probably half of the country believes it's OK to spank your children.

But the reason that I disagree with it is one, I think it's confusing to the child, and two, I think too many parents do it in anger. Too many parents get out of control. Too many parents, without accountability, wind up being abusive with their children.

They can injure them physically, certainly emotionally. I think it's an all-around bad deal. What we talked about in this show, Spanking Scandals, is not only what we as parents do with our children, but what do we know about who we're turning them over to? What do we know about the teachers, the coaches, the Sunday school teachers, the nannies that we're turning our children over to? Do they have anger issues? Will they go too far? Will they behave in the way we would if we were there instead of them?

We have to be careful who we turn our children over to, as we've been talking about tonight. There are some crazy people in this world.

KING: Back with more moments with Dr. Phil on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, right after this.


KING: We're in our remaining moments with Dr. Phil. The one- time Mouseketeer Britney Spears, a lot of turmoil in her life. You got caught up in that storm, doctor, in January when you visited her while she was hospitalized at Cedar Sinai. You took some criticism for that episode. Was that deserved?

MCGRAW: Well, I -- Larry, I think everybody has to make up their own mind about that. I have always been someone that's supported this family, and I certainly wish the best for them now, going forward. You know, it's so difficult when you get young people in so much of a spotlight, with so much frenzy around them.

That's why people worry about someone like Miley Cyrus. That's why we have to pay attention to our own kids getting bombarded with so much more. Life is moving at a faster pace. The velocity is amazing. It's difficult sometimes, particularly for young people, to keep their feet on the ground.

KING: Were you wrong in going?

MCGRAW: I don't think so. I went as a friend to try to support this family, and I certainly did that with the right intention, and I continue to send them my best wishes.

KING: How is she going to do? MCGRAW: Well, you know, who knows? At this point, she's out of the spotlight, and I think that's probably a good thing at this stage of the game. And I hope that, like anyone that is having a difficult time, would get some help, get some counseling, get some support, and move forward in a positive way. You know, we always wake up in a new world every day. We get to make new choices. And we get to start building a new history. And that's a good thing for all of us that have choices in our lives.

KING: The D.C. Madam was found dead today in Florida, an apparent suicide, due to be sentenced in July. Clients for her ring included some very prominent, very powerful men. You see her on the screen. What do you make of this, the Eliot Spitzer concept, the going -- when a high profile person uses a hooker?

MCGRAW: Well, you know, I think there's this idea that when you rise to a certain level in power, particularly in politics, that you are kind of above the laws that you make and above the laws that you enforce. And I think that's just not true. And I think when you make those kinds of choices, then you are putting yourself and your career and those people that voted for you, certainly, in harm's way.

And, you know, this has got a lot of unraveling. And now here we have this woman that's taken her own life. And I think it's a tragic situation for everybody involved, including Governor Spitzer.

KING: Do you get -- I know that we got the May sweeps coming. We only have 30 seconds. Do you get more hyped during the sweeps?

MCGRAW: You know, I think everybody likes to stack particularly interesting shows during that particular time. You know, we kind of just do the shows that we always do. And I think during this May sweeps we've got some incredible shows coming up. We deal with real people, real issues and every show we do, we design it so there's a take away, so somebody comes away and saying, hey, I know something I didn't know before I watched it. I think that will be true this May.

KING: Congratulations on the Emmy nomination. Continued good luck.

MCGRAW: Thank you, Larry

KING: Dr. Phil, he's one of my favorite people.

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