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CNN Larry King Live
American Captain Held Hostage by Pirates; Interview with Dr. Laura Schlessinger
Aired April 08, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, breaking news on the high seas -- the captain of an American ship held hostage by pirates. The latest on the life and death drama.
Plus, Dr. Laura sounds off on America's mom-in-chief, Michelle Obama; on the Sarah Palin family scandal, on the sexting craze threatening America's kids.
All right now on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's turned into quite a night.
Earlier today, I taped an extraordinary interview with Michael J. Fox. We've been promoting it all day. You've seen some clips of it. That will air tomorrow night because of this breaking story.
Michael J. Fox will air tomorrow night.
You know the story or you've heard about it -- pirates, a ship.
What's going on?
Let's check in with Chris Lawrence, our CNN Pentagon correspondent, is in Washington.
What -- what's happening -- Chris?
What is this all about?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Larry, first, just to set the quick scene for you, what the latest situation was, was that the pirates had hijacked an American civilian ship. At some point during this, the crew overpowered the hijackers. They worked out some sort of deal. The hijackers got off of the Alabama. They got onto a lifeboat, but took the captain of the ship with them. The crew kept one of the pirates on board.
There was supposed to be a negotiation in which the crew said the crew would give back the pirate that they took into custody. The pirates were supposed to hand back over the captain of the Alabama.
Well, the crew said they held up their end of the bargain and returned the pirate, but the pirates kept the captain. That was the situation -- a lifeboat in the water, four pirates, the captain of this boat and overhead, there was a Naval surveillance plane -- a P-3 that had been keeping a close eye on this area, relaying information back to headquarters and back to a U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser that was steaming full speed toward the area.
When all this happened, the crews got the -- got the alert that there was an emergency, but was hundreds of miles away -- had been making its way there.
The latest word is that the cruiser is now on the scene near the lifeboat. And the lifeboat has moved out of position away from the Alabama.
KING: They call themselves pirates?
LAWRENCE: They do, Larry. Well, that's -- that's a term that we give to them. But Secretary Clinton, what it is, is theft and robbery on the high seas. You know, they come up to these boats, they try to board them, they take control of the boat. And it's all about money. You know, we had seen ransoms paid -- $2 million. This is one of the biggest businesses and moneymakers in Somalia.
KING: Thank you, Chris Lawrence, our CNN Pentagon correspondent.
Earlier, CNN spoke with the second mate of the Alabama.
Ken Quinn talked about the crews efforts to get their captain back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SECOND MATE KEN QUINN, ON BOARD MAERSK ALABAMA: We had one of their hostages. We had a pirate we took and we kept him for 12 hours. We tied him up and he was our prisoner. We returned him, but they didn't return the captain. So now we're just trying to offer them whatever we can -- food. It's not working too good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's do to Dubai and check in with CNN's correspondent, Stan Grant, who is kind of an expert on pirates.
What's your read on this?
STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Larry, look, this is something that we've seen an upsurge in over the past year or so -- a 200 percent increase in piracy off the coast of Somalia during 2008. This makes it the most dangerous waterway in the world.
Why is it happening?
Because Somalia is, effectively, a lawless state. What these marauders, these pirates are all about is making money. It's interesting to see just how they do it, Larry. We think about piracy as something from another century -- something consigned to history. But they're operating right now.
They operate in small boats, skiffs, speedboats. They move out from a mother ship, usually a fishing trawler nearby. They move onto these much larger ships. They surround them and use ropes to climb aboard. And they are very heavily armed. They are carrying rocket propelled grenades, rocket launchers. They're carrying AK-47s. And they simply overpower the crew on the ship.
They then hold the crew hostage and they demand these ransoms. You heard Chris talk about this. Millions of dollars have been paid -- some say as much $150 million just last year. It's a lucrative business -- Larry.
KING: So that -- that's ransom right?
GRANT: That's ransom. And, you know, the shipping companies pay the ransom because it's the easiest and cheapest way out. They get their crew back and they also get their ships back. These ships, of course, running into tens -- hundreds of millions of dollars. And they -- it is a very lucrative business for the shipping companies. It's easier to pay the ransom.
Many people have said why not prosecute them?
But that, of course, is also a very gray area. There is a U.N. Security Council resolution saying that these pirates can be pursued on the high seas. There are treaties that exist to actually prosecute. But at this stage, the option has been to pay the money, get the boat back, get the crew back and then move on from there.
So the pirates stand to make a lot of money. And that's what's been happening, Larry.
KING: So the Navy patrols are kind of between a rock and a hard place?
GRANT: Yes. Look, there is a big Navy presence in this region. About nine different nations operate here. The U.S. Fifth Fleet is about an hour's flight from where I'm sitting right here in Bahrain.
But the focus has been there on the Gulf of Aden. That has been securing that waterway between Somalia and -- and the -- what's important about that waterway is that most of the -- about a fifth of the world's oil supply moves through there. And that's where most of the pirate attacks have taken place.
But it's a large, large area -- a large waterway -- about a million square miles that has to be patrolled. And what the pirates have done is that they've changed their tactics. They're now moving out into deeper water. And that's where we've seen this attack take place, about -- about 300 miles off the coast of Somalia.
So the pirates are able to change their tactics and strike in different areas. It's simply too vast an area to be patrolled even by the Naval ships or the warships that are in place, Larry.
KING: Stan, stay with us.
We'll be getting back to you.
We've got other guests coming.
The hijacked ship's second in command, Captain Shane Murphy, was able to call his wife in the midst of all this.
And she had this to say about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERENA daughter-in-law, HUSBAND ON SHIP: I'm trying to be as optimistic as possible. I'm just praying and hoping for the best for the whole crew. And Shane called me at about 10:00 and he spoke with me for about three minutes just to tell me that he was OK and he was alive.
QUESTION: So they let him make a phone call...
daughter-in-law: No. He did...
QUESTION: ...or did he do it without them knowing?
daughter-in-law: They came in the room and he had to get off the phone immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: When we come back, we'll be joined by,
, the chief executive of Industrial Shipping Enterprises. That company's tanker was hijacked by pirates last November.
And, also, the commander of the -- remember the USS Cole?
The commander of the Cole, he'll be aboard, too.
Don't go away.
KING: We're back.
Remaining with us in Dubai is Stan Grant, CNN correspondent.
Joining us here in New York is James Christodoulou. He's chief executive at Industrial Shipping Enterprises. That company's tanker, the MV Biscaglia, was hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden late last November. In Washington is Commander Kirk. W. Lippold, the United States Navy, retired. He was a senior military fellow at the Military Families United and commander of the USS Cole in the year 2000, when it was attacked by al Qaeda suicide bombers while in the port in Yemen.
And Christopher Voss. He was the FBI's lead international kidnapping negotiator, founder of The Black Swan Group.
What happened to your ship, James?
JAMES CHRISTODOULOU, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, INDUSTRIAL SHIPPING ENTERPRISE CORP.: Well, very much like the -- the Alabama today. Just around midnight, I got a telephone call that pirates had stormed our ship, seized it and taken control of it and had taken all of my crew hostage.
KING: And what happened?
CHRISTODOULOU: It was a long, long drawn out situation. We negotiated every day for almost 60 days with the pirates, trying to secure the risk of -- of the ship, the cargo, but, most importantly, the crew, because this is really a human drama. It's -- it's...
KING: And what happened?
Who got what?
CHRISTODOULOU: Well, we -- we got our ship, we got our crew and the pirates got their -- their ransom and...
KING: Which was the cargo?
CHRISTODOULOU: No, no. The ransom was some -- some money that we delivered via airplane -- dropped out of an airplane in a plastic tube with a parachute.
KING: So the pirates won?
CHRISTODOULOU: Well, it depends how you look at it. The pirates won and we won, also, because my ship and, most importantly, my crew were all released physically, emotionally and mentally intact.
KING: Commander Lippold, is there any way to safeguard against this?
COMMANDER KIRK W. LIPPOLD, ON USS COLE DURING 2000 ATTACK: Larry, it's very difficult. Even with the number of ships that you have there, you're looking at an area that's four times the size of Texas. And when you consider that the USS Bainbridge, when the boarding occurred, was over 300 miles away, it's just very problematic to try and cover that much area.
Even with the number of coalition ships that we currently have there, it's very difficult to patrol that much area effectively. These boats go out, as mentioned by a previous guest. They get towed out by a trawler with three or four skiffs behind it. And then when opportunity presents itself, they go out. They board these merchant vessels. They're armed with rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons. And in a matter of minutes, they have control of that ship and they hold the crew hostage until they can negotiate a price.
KING: Is -- Chris Voss, FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator, is -- is this kind of negotiation more difficult than most?
CHRISTOPHER VOSS, FOUNDER, THE BLACK SWAN GROUP: Well, it can be difficult if you're impatient. As was pointed out earlier, one of the ship negotiations lasted 60 days. If you look at time and patience as weapons, as opposed to than things that are working against you, then you sort of get into the flow of it and you can do the best you possibly can. But you have to use time to your advantage and expect it to take a long time.
KING: Stan Grant, what kind of criminal is this?
GRANT: Well, what we're talking about here, Larry, are people who are prepared to go to extraordinary lengths and have the capacity to inflict this sort of damage, to take control of these boats and extort the money that they're after.
Now, this -- this has been rising, as well. I think just this year, we've seen around about 60 of these types attacks. Just in the last week, six. There were five in about 48 hours, Larry.
So it shows that they are still able to operate virtually with impunity despite the naval presence in the region. And as we just heard there, the Navy simply can't patrol such a vast area and provides -- provide security for all of these vessels that -- that need security and are vulnerable to attack.
So there has been an upsurge in this activity. They are -- they are trained fighters. Often, they're wearing military fatigues. We've heard just how heavily armed they are. And they are now able to strike and they're changing their tactics. They're very mobile. They're very agile.
And as we've said before, Larry, it is all about money and they are getting it in the tens of millions.
KING: James, did you feel, when you paid the ransom, you were defeated?
CHRISTODOULOU: I actually felt quite relieved, as one of the other guests right now said, using time as a weapon. By the time you come to a conclusion, both sides are exhausted. Both sides want resolution. And it's not about the money, Larry. I mean, yes, we're -- the currency of exchange and resolution is money. But for us and all owners, it's about the people.
KING: Are you insured for that?
CHRISTODOULOU: Well, we're insured for -- for various aspects of -- of our operations.
KING: Commander Lippold, we understand that the commander of the Bainbridge trained under you and that you were in touch with him earlier today.
What can you tell us about that?
LIPPOLD: Well, Larry, all I did was send him a note that Commander Frank Castellano, who I have absolute confidence in the job that he's going to do with his crew. I told him to just be safe out there and do the Navy and the nation proud by the job I know he and his crew are going to carry out here shortly, hopefully.
KING: Chris, what approach would you advise to get the captain out?
VOSS: Well, they -- they've already reneged on one agreement. So they -- that was an impatient agreement they reached the first time.
I mean, as was murder before, you've got to exhaust the other side and you've got -- they have to feel like that they can't get anything else before they're going to release what they're holding, whether it be a ship or whether it be a human.
So they're going to have to take a patient approach. And, believe it or not, with the proper assurances, finally come to an agreement where the captain will be released.
KING: Stan Grant, thanks for joining us. An outstanding job, as always.
We'll be joined and the panel will remain. And we'll be adding Colin Freeman, chief foreign correspondent for "The Daily Telegraph".
Don't go away.
KING: We're joined on the phone by Colin Freeman, chief foreign correspondent for "The Daily Telegraph".
He was kidnapped in Somalia while reporting on piracy in the Gulf of Aden and released after nearly six weeks in captivity.
What happened to you, Colin?
COLIN FREEMAN, CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, "THE DAILY TELEGRAPH" (via telephone): We were out late last November reporting about the piracy problem. We went to Northern Somalia, where the coastline is dotted with pirate towns. We weren't in quite one of the pirate towns, per se, but we were fairly nearby.
Then, on the last day, the bodyguards that we had hired to protect us from getting kidnapped, they kidnapped us. We were...
FREEMAN: We were driving back to the airport and they suddenly turned their guns on us -- seven of them, all with Kalashnikovs, spirited us across the desert and up into some mountains. And we spent the next six weeks living with them in a bunch of caves -- a series of different caves. We moved...
FREEMAN: ...from place to place.
KING: ...you fear for your life?
FREEMAN: Once or twice, yes. Most of the time, they treated us pretty well, as the Somali pirates do. They have a reputation for doing. On one occasion, they threatened us. But -- and on another occasion, there was a gun battle with a -- with another gang of some sort. We weren't told who they were.
As a rule, though, yes, they were OK to us.
KING: Do they call themselves pirates?
FREEMAN: Yes, the guys we were with, they did call themselves pirates, even though they were on land -- although, you know, we don't know exactly know who they were. On occasion, we also heard rumors that they were some sort of religious militia or that they had connections to religious extremists in -- in Somalia. We were never really told the truth of it and I don't know, you know, the we'll ever probably find out.
KING: Hang with us, Colin.
Colin will remain.
We'll be joined -- he'll join Ken Quinn, Christopher Voss and James Christodoulou right after this.
Don't go away.
KING: I mentioned Ken Quinn, the second mate on the Alabama. We've been trying to reach him by phone. If we do, we'll kick right in with him.
We now have Christopher Voss, Colin Freeman, Commander Lippold and James Christodoulou.
And jams told me during the break that you wound up calling them gentlemen? CHRISTODOULOU: We started calling them Somali gentlemen. We...
CHRISTODOULOU: We -- because we wanted to de-stress the situation. We felt -- I felt that by calling them gentlemen, they'd start to act like gentlemen. What you want to do is deescalate, depressurize that situation.
KING: Good idea, Chris?
VOSS: Well, absolutely. He hit it on -- on the money. It was probably his business negotiation experience from before. But as strange as it sounds, you have to partner up with whoever you're negotiating with or against to come to a resolution, mainly because you have to count on them performing when you make the deal. And if you don't have some sort of a business relationship with them, then they'll simply renege, just as they did earlier on the release of the captain in today's incident.
KING: Commander Lippold, what do you make of the fact that the crew was able to take back the ship?
LIPPOLD: Larry, I couldn't be prouder them. Obviously, there was some training that had gone into it, where they could use non-lethal force and get the control of the ship back.
But the whole situation is going to point to a larger problem that we have to deal with, in that, at some point, these pirates are going to continue to operate with impunity, come out there and seize whatever ship makes the best target of opportunity for them, until we make the decision -- both multilaterally, with other nations or unilaterally by ourselves, if we have to, to go into where these pirate ships operate from and to begin to dismantle and take down that infrastructure.
If they do not have the logistics to operate from bases ashore, they certainly aren't going to be able to project that into the sea. And that's what we're going to have to prevent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.
We're going to continue to deal with this problem until we actually take it ashore.
I mean as -- as was mentioned earlier, there is a United Nations resolution, 1851, that was done under Charter Seven, which allows us to go and conduct military operations ashore in Somali territorial waters or on land itself, if that's what it's going to take. And I think we're rapidly reaching this point.
If we do not get the opportunity to go in there and dismantle take these people down, we're going to continue to pay a price, not only here in the United States, but other countries, as well. KING: Colin, what do you make of why there seems to be more of this?
FREEMAN: It is that Somali has just been slipping ever more and more into lawlessness. There was a brief spell, actually, where the piracy eased and that was when Somalia had their kind of Islamist militia controlling much of Mogadishu and other -- other parts of the country.
That's no longer the case.
As to why it's gotten so bad in the last few months, most people just simply say that it's more and more Somalis realizing there's money to be made from it and joining the party.
KING: Yes. By the way, the father of the Alabama second in command is a professor at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Joe Murphy told CNN some of the details his son had related to his daughter-in-law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE daughter-in-law, FATHER OF CREW MEMBER: He said that they had managed to take down one of the terrorists. And it was by sheer force. They have no weapons. So it must have been, obviously, they just overpowered them.
We got a secondary report that three others had gone into the water...
QUESTION: Three other pirates?
daughter-in-law: That three other pirates had gone into the water. We're not really sure how they got into the water, what happened. But they had regained, at that point, control of the ship.
Shane called her again. He said he was OK, the crew was OK. And he didn't want to go any further with the discussion because he didn't want to upset his wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: James, what precautions do you take now?
CHRISTODOULOU: Well, we took a lot of precautions even on the voyage that we were hijacked. In fact, our voyage began in November, but the precautions that we took started in October, where we were evaluating the current risk assessment in the area, alternate routes. And we had on board our ship a team of security guards who were armed with non-lethal weapons and support. We trained with evasive and definitive measures. And, unfortunately, our counter-measures were just inadequate. We were overpowered by superior firepower of the pirates and they took our ships.
KING: How many ships do you have out there now?
CHRISTODOULOU: Now, we have two of our ships out in that area now.
KING: Christopher Voss, do you expect this to get worse?
VOSS: Absolutely. It's easy money for these people. It's like a virus and they've gotten used to it. And until there's a coordinated and organized response that attacks their infrastructure, it will go on.
KING: Do you agree with that, Commander Lippold?
LIPPOLD: Absolutely, Larry. I think until we begin to start to hit them where it hurts and literally take away their ability ashore to project out to sea and seize these vessels, we're going to continue to have these problems.
I mean this is the sixth vessel seized in about as many days. And it's only going to get worse until we start making them pay the price that so far the commercial shipping industry has been willing to absorb. And we just can't afford it anymore. It is the lifeblood of any nation to have free economy on the high seas...
LIPPOLD: ...and we can't afford to let a group of pirates in a lawless state hijack us.
CHRISTODOULOU: Look, it's not that the shipping industry is willing to absorb. It's what, unfortunately, we have to absorb.
We would love to have -- and we've been calling -- and I have personally been calling to have a multinational force providing an effective security umbrella. But it's very easy and convenient to say the shipping company should arrest the pirates.
Well, the shipping companies can't arrest the pirates. We don't have the legal jurisdiction. We don't have the infrastructure.
KING: You're not policemen.
CHRISTODOULOU: We are not policemen.
CHRISTODOULOU: We need a law...
KING: Thank you.
CHRISTODOULOU: ...you know, to give us the security that we deserve.
KING: Thank you all very much -- Colin Freeman, Christopher Voss, Commander Kirk Lippold and James Christodoulou, on short notice, for coming aboard, as well.
Again, we taped an interview earlier today. If I do say so myself, a terrific interview with Michael J. Fox. It was scheduled for tonight. Clips have run earlier.
It will be run in its entirety tomorrow night, Thursday night.
Dr. Laura is next and she's got a lot to say about Michelle Obama, about the Palin family scandal and her own new book.
Don't go away.
KING: We're back. Another visit with Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the "New York Times" best selling author. Her new book, "In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms." When I first saw this -- I know it's another major best seller for you -- my first shock was you're not a stay-at- home mom. When do you stay at home? You go to work. You're a worker. You're a professional. You have a show.
DR. LAURA SCHLESSINGER, "DR. LAURA": Interestingly enough, the whole first part of the preface and introduction is sort of an autobiographical summary of how I did it. I'm a good role model for being an at-home mom and still having some work, because I'm wrapping it around the family, versus the other way around. I would get up at 5:00 in the morning and write. And when my kids went to school, I would get up at 5:00 at the morning and write, work on the radio for three hours. Pick them up at school, bring him home.
For all he knew, his mommy didn't even work.
KING: Your theory is what, that all mothers should stay at home? What about people who have to --
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, my heart breaks. My heart breaks for those people. It's interesting, I was in the green room of a different show. And I was talking to somebody. I said, did you read this. Tears started coming down her face. She's wiping tears. She says, I have a very good nanny. The nanny is very loving. I know it's not mommy, but I have to change my lifestyle.
So I think there are two categories of have to work. Have to work if you're wanting to live a certain lifestyle, and you're not wanting to sacrifice, or have to work because you really have to work to survive.
KING: Which probably millions of Americans have that.
SCHLESSINGER: But it breaks my heart.
KING: But it's a truism.
SCHLESSINGER: But it breaks my heart.
KING: But it's true. SCHLESSINGER: Both the child and the mother are missing out on something that is so important for the development of a child, and I think fulfillment for a woman, to know that she's the one nurturing and molding her kid.
KING: If you have to eat --
SCHLESSINGER: All I'm saying is it's a great sadness if you can't, because something is lost. I wrote this book in praise of stay-at-home moms, not to argue about whether you should or shouldn't, but to praise the women and give them moral support. They are very maligned.
The reality is that I don't quite understand why any woman was willing to buy the notion that a woman's love, a mother's love and attention can be replaced by hired help. I've never understood why a woman would want to embrace that thought. I certainly wouldn't want to think anyone else was more superior to hug and love and teach my kid than me or daddy.
KING: Who maligns them?
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, my gosh. You've heard of the mommy wars.
KING: People don't like mothers because they stay at home?
SCHLESSINGER: What happens --
KING: That's like saying you don't like mother because they go to work. That wouldn't be true, would it?
SCHLESSINGER: No, my heart goes out to them for what they're missing.
KING: Who maligns the mothers who stay at home? Why would you malign a mother who stays at home?
SCHLESSINGER: I'll tell you why. You would malign a mother at home when it hurts your heart so much that you're not, but you're struggling with your lifestyle and your own dreams and ambitions and the pains of leaving your child. And sometimes in a hurt, we become defensive about it. We deny that it's something we're struggling with, and we get hostile.
So you look, for example, at, you know, a lot of blogs on this issue and you see so much meanness about stay-at-home moms. They're made to feel like what they're doing is sort of stupid, and a waste, and irrelevant. There have been major best selling books saying it's even dangerous, because you'll probably marry some guy who will dump you. They make it sound like it's a precarious life, other the beautiful aspect of being a woman and having a family, having you be the center of this family.
KING: Let's talk about the most famous woman in the world. What do you think of Michelle Obama? SCHLESSINGER: I thought the most famous woman in the world was Hillary Clinton. I'm sorry. OK. You know, I really like that grandma's in the house. I really like that since these two people are going to be so busy, that grandma is there, somebody who actually is so emotionally invested in the children that she can provide that sort of backbone. I think that's wonderful portrayal for America, because a lot of times, you hear all the disconnections between the parents, grandparents. They live in different places. Nobody gets along. They've been married and divorced seven times. Nobody knows who the grandparents are. Here's a coherent unit. I think that's nice.
KING: More on Michelle Obama and other things on CNN's number one show page, CNN.com/Larry King. And you can talk to Dr. Laura. Click on our blog if you've got a question or a comment. We'll share some of your thoughts later in the show. The book, "In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms." Back in 60 seconds.
KING: We're back with Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The book, "In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms." Michelle Obama, couple other things on her and we'll move to some areas. She's quoted in May's "Essence Magazine." Here's what she said, "there isn't a relationship in a family more important than the relationship a child has with the mother or someone in that role. We have to value that. We've got to value it each and every day."
You must agree with that.
SCHLESSINGER: Or someone else.
KING: You mentioned the grandmother.
SCHLESSINGER: OK, grandma. OK.
KING: She's saying the mother or someone else in the home.
SCHLESSINGER: OK. It isn't clear. I wish she had made clarity, because I don't think hired help has the same emotional status as family.
KING: By the way, hired help need jobs. What are you laughing at? They need jobs, too. This is a tough economy.
SCHLESSINGER: We're not talking about the wellbeing of workers. We're talking about the needs of children.
KING: Let's bring up another touch subject. Former GOP Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is feuding with the family of Levi Johnston, the father of her teenage daughter's baby. Eighteen-year- old Levi recently talked to Tyra Banks about his involvement with Bristol Palin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEVI JOHNSTON, HAD CHILD WITH BRISTOL PALIN: -- everything to me. He's my little boy. I don't know what I'd do without him. When I hold him, it's an amazing feeling. I just shake.
TYRA BANKS, "THE TYRA BANKS SHOW": Was it a mistake?
JOHNSTON: No, not at all. I wouldn't call any baby a mistake. I love him more than anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A Palin spokesperson has accused Johnston of finding it more appealing to exploit his previous relationship with Bristol than to contribute to the wellbeing of the child. What do you think of that whole story?
SCHLESSINGER: It is very sad to me that two teenagers pretended to be committed adults who are capable of maintaining a family for the child. Of course no child is a mistake. But the circumstances of this child's birth, that's a mistake, because it's not in the best interest of the child. I did think it was pretty scummy of him to go on TV shows. I agree. He' exploiting the situation. That's kind of scummy. You're not supposed to kiss and tell.
KING: You were always in the past angry at young girls who had sex.
SCHLESSINGER: I'm not angry.
KING: You wanted them to wait. You certainly didn't want a child out of wedlock.
SCHLESSINGER: It's what children mean that should matter to everybody, not what adults feel like they want to do for immediate gratification. We always have to consider the needs of the child. That's a constant. And I think that's probably something we can all agree upon, even though we don't like to agree upon people not having freedom to do what they want at any one moment.
KING: This was the Tyra Banks clip. They ran the clips out of order. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BANKS: Personal question. You're on my Tyra couch and there are no personal questions. Were you practicing safe sex?
BANKS: Even when the baby was conceived?
JOHNSTON: We were.
BANKS: So there were just wardrobe malfunctions?
JOHNSTON: I guess.
JOHNSTON: Yes, I guess so.
BANKS: Every time you practiced safe sex?
BANKS: Every time?
JOHNSTON: Every time.
JOHNSTON: Most of the time.
BANKS: Most of the time. There you go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHLESSINGER: I am horrified watching this. The audience is laughing. This is exploited garbage television, making jokes and laughing. This child doesn't have an intact family. This is chaos around this child. It's despicable. It upsets me.
KING: Was it a little despicable the way they were displayed at the convention?
SCHLESSINGER: Oh yes, I loved that too, with McCain embracing him on the tarmac, as though this kid did something wonderful. These are the kind of family values that I don't think we need to portray to a country that's already struggling with its values.
KING: What advice would you give to Bristol?
SCHLESSINGER: It's too late now. I would have voted for adoption to a two-parent, adult, married, family, so the child would have that stability. I always recommend that on my program. If a child is conceived in a situation which is not in the child's best interest, I know it breaks hearts and causes pain, but the pain that's caused to adults cannot trump the best needs of a child, which is a mommy and a daddy, grown up, married, stable.
KING: Dr. Laura, "In Praise of Stay at Home Moms." That's the book. We'll be right back.
KING: Let's take a call for Dr. Laura. Chicago, hello.
CALLER: Hi there. Yes, Dr. Laura, I was just wondering if one of the reasons why you wrote your book for mothers, because the mother-daughter relationship is so important -- what about your relationship with your mother and her dying alone? Is it guilt over that, the reason you wrote this book?
SCHLESSINGER: This book is not in praise of mother-daughter relationships. This book is in praise of stay-at-home moms. Interestingly enough, in the book, I do talk about my mother. She kind of walked out of both her daughter's lives, made that choice, had no friends. My attempts at contact were not received.
My mother had an interesting history from the war in Italy. There were a lot of intervening things. She came here. I feel sorry for her, because she couldn't enjoy the blessings of both her daughters and their children and have that kind of life. But she had such a troubled life early on, and then coming to America, a nice little Italian girl, marrying into a Jewish family that was very unaccepting of her, and caused her misery, made threats on the phone.
My mother went through so much. And I think later in her life, after her divorce from my dad, she just sort of pulled back. I would have loved to have had a mommy. But this book is not about moms and daughters. This about in praise of women who make the sacrifices and take the challenges to raise their children.
KING: Well asked, well answered. Your blog comments are next. So if you want to say something to Dr. Laura, speak now at CNN.com/LarryKing. Don't go away.
KING: Dr. Laura always manages to get people talking and commenting on our blog. Tonight is no exception. Our blog correspondent, David Theall, joins us now with a quick update on what they're saying.
DAVID THEALL, CNN BLOG CORRESPONDENT: Larry, this is happening, CNN.com/LarryKing. As we do ever night, we start out with a shout out for Dr. Laura. Says this person, "thanks to Dr. Laura for recognizing stay-at-home moms."
Another female checked into the blog tonight. She says "is this 1950 or 2009."
And Larry, we leave you with this question for Dr. Laura that came on the blog, again, CNN.com/LarryKing. Look to the blog link, click it, jump into the conversation. Asks this person, "would Dr. Laura still be in praise of a stay-at-home mom if that mom was a lesbian in a healthy, loving relationship?"
KING: Fair question.
SCHLESSINGER: That's not what the book is about. My book is about --
KING: If a lesbian is home with her daughter or son --
SCHLESSINGER: Children need the contact of their parent, whether they are a lesbian or not. They need their mommy there. In that situation, the child is bereft of a dad. Dads are important, too.
KING: At the end of this book, mother Laura's top five things a dad needs to do to help his wife be the best stay at home mother she can be. Very well written, by the way, at the end of the book.
Let's take a call from San Diego. Hello. CALLER: Hello, Dr. Laura.
CALLER: Since you sort of dodged Larry's question the first time around, I wanted to ask you again what you thought of Michelle Obama and her job as first lady so far?
SCHLESSINGER: I really have no opinion about that. I don't go into political things.
KING: It's not political. What do you think of her as a first lady?
SCHLESSINGER: I have -- I don't know. I don't know at this point.
KING: This week, the Washington City Council voted to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. And the Vermont legislature voted to override a gubernatorial veto of a bill legalizing same sex. Do you think this -- now we have four states, about to be five states.
SCHLESSINGER: Well, it's issues of -- sometimes it's done by courts, sometimes it's done by legislatures.
KING: Basically, five states now say you can have it. What do you think of that? What are you laughing at?
SCHLESSINGER: Well, I don't have much of an opinion on it.
KING: You have no opinion on it?
SCHLESSINGER: Not much, no.
KING: But you've always favored that marriage must be between a man and woman.
SCHLESSINGER: I'm very big on human beings finding love, attachment and commitment and being faithful to it, because there's more to benefit when there is real true commitment and faithfulness to it. I still believe, as just every president has, and all the people who ran for office, that marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman. So not calling it marriage works for me. But that two people would have that sort of commitment to me is very healthy and very positive thing in their lives and society as a whole.
KING: So, you favor marriage between a man and a woman, but you applaud the fact that even people of the same-sex can have that kind of commitment to each other.
SCHLESSINGER: That's a beautiful thing and a healthy thing.
KING: We'll be back with more of Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The book is "In Praise of Stay at Home Moms."
KING: The caller mentioned, Laura, that you're like in the 1950s here with this stay-at-home mom.
SCHLESSINGER: I liked the dresses better then. But anyway, I loved that statement, are you in 1950 or 2009. Social politics notwithstanding, and all the gender wars and movements, none of that changes the needs of children. Since human beings evolved from wherever we came from, children's needs have always been the same. We can say we wish, as women, to be doing something else. I remember Katharine Hepburn was interviewed by Dick Cavett. He asked her why she never got married and had kids. She said, it wouldn't have been fair. I am very selfish. I wanted my career. I didn't want to do that to a child. That was an unbelievable amount of honesty. That I admired.
KING: Sexting, this is new to me, sending nude or semi-nude photos on the Internet, a growing trend, apparently, among teens. Modern technology.
SCHLESSINGER: Yes, they don't seem to understand that the Internet and certain things are forever when they do this. But I think this is all part of the degeneration of the respect and admiration for women, which is one of the things I talk about in this book. We used to say motherhood and apple pie. There was modesty. A woman was something to admire and respect.
Now, the way women dress and present themselves, have sex without any commitment -- you know, in college they call it hooking up or friendship with perks or any of this. I think women have been giving up everything that is special about them. And it starts out with these teen years, where they're just using their bodies --
KING: Why would people text their own body on a text machine? Why would you do that? I'm try to go figure out why would you do that?
SCHLESSINGER: In their minds, this is how to connect. This is how to be popular. This is how to be special. I did science experiments in the basement. That was my way of going about it.
KING: What happens to -- are we going worse? As you perceive the society, worse?
SCHLESSINGER: I think so. But I see a growing movement, and in CEO women all the way -- even the "New York Times" has been publishing many articles over the years how women have realized that their fulfillment has not been made being a worker bee. I remember the movie "The Devil Wears Prada." She gives the lecture at the end, I don't have a husband; I don't have my kids; I have this power. And you have to think about whether or not you want to give up these tender things for this. And the girl quits.
I think there are some influences, but they're minor. You get an organization like The Moms Club, which is international now, where women at home can network with each other, so they can feel support from each other and information on how to deal with things like when your kids are out of control. They help each other.
KING: Do you think you can reverse the trend away from stay-at- home-ism?
SCHLESSINGER: Away from stay at home?
KING: Right now, you obviously write this book to say more people are going out of the house than staying at home.
SCHLESSINGER: No, I'm saying more people are giving up careers and coming --
KING: You think that's reversing, from the career back to home?
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, yes, and I'm happy as peach pie, because I don't think -- you can check me on this, but I don't think any child was left in the backseat to roast because a mother or father forget them from a stay-at-home mom.
KING: Do we know any statistics?
SCHLESSINGER: I said you can check me on the statistics, but I never read -- they were all busy, busy parents, and they were dumping the kids off at day care. And they forgot they had kids. How can you forget you have kids? We've gone so far in thinking that our work and our acquisition and our power is so important, and our identity with our work is so important, that we forget we have kids. Stay-at-home moms never forget, because they're hugging them, holding them, teaching them, nurturing them all the time.
KING: Let's take a quick call from Beaverton, Oregon.
CALLER: Hi, I have a question for Dr. Laura. My question is, why do you think that little baby, the Palin baby, is in chaos when there's such a large family network that is dedicated to taking care of that child and not putting that child in day care, as you just mentioned. But, you know, just --
KING: We're going to run short on time.
SCHLESSINGER: I don't know what's going to be happening with this baby. I don't know how many guys she's going to be dating. I don't know if she's going to dump the kid somewhere and go to school. I don't know if she -- we don't know what's going to go on. All we know is that we have a kid for a mom and a kid for a dad who's -- and there's no intact mom and dad. There's no --
KING: What responsibility does the governor have in all of this?
SCHLESSINGER: She's been a busy, busy woman. She gave birth and very quickly went off to meetings. So, you know, I think -- I think when parents do not make children their priority, children often make decisions which aren't in their best interests. Sometimes they create their own families to have a sense of connectedness.
KING: Always good to see you, Laura. SCHLESSINGER: Thank you very much.
KING: Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The book is "In Praise of Stay- at-Home Moms." Michael J. Fox will be here tomorrow night. Please don't miss that.
Now, more on that hijack situation off the coast of Somalia. Pirates are holding an American ship captain hostage. To cover it all, here is Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?