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Tornado Coverage

Aired May 25, 2011 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, the picture that shows the extraordinary power of a tornado. A tractor trailer literally ripped apart. Unbelievably, the driver survives and captures the whole thing on his cell phone. All this as tornado alley braces for yet more storms.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, what it destroys?


MORGAN: And hope fades with 1,500 people still missing in Joplin, Missouri.




MORGAN: I talk to desperate relatives racing against time to find their loved ones.

Also tonight, remember him? The notorious John Edwards, is he on the verge of being indicted? I'll ask legalese Dan Abrams what happens now.

Plus, my all-star tribute to the woman who changed television forever.


EVA LONGORIA, ACTRESS: I would vote Oprah for president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who wouldn't want to be Oprah Winfrey? Are you kidding? If you don't want to be Oprah Winfrey, there's something wrong with you.


MORGAN: I'll talk to some of the people who knew her best.




MORGAN: Including her best friend Gayle King, Suze Orman and Lisa Ling.



MORGAN: Good evening.

This is the video that stopped viewers around the world dead in their tracks. Twister versus tractor trailer. You saw it here last night.

And here's the extraordinary thing -- not only does the driver walk away, he captured the whole thing on his cell phone in the moments before it happens.

An incredibly lucky driver joins me now and he's Jeremiah Morrison.

Jeremiah, first of all, what an escape. I mean, watching these pictures last night, we just assumed the worst. You must feel lucky to be alive, don't you?


MORGAN: What are the injuries you suffered, Jeremiah?

MORRISON: Do what, sir?

MORGAN: What are the injuries that you suffered?

MORISSON: Doctors said I had a cracked humerus in my shoulder, like a fracture. I got scrapes on my legs and bruises and dings -- bruises and dings and bangs. Nothing severe I guess.

MORGAN: And tell me, just talk me through what was going through your mind as this tornado came towards you.

MORRISON: And it came toward me. I saw it out in the distance. So, I pulled my truck over. And I was getting ready to get in the ditch. That's what I've always been taught to do.

I kind of started to get out and looked up. Look like the tornado kind of disappeared. So, I got back in the truck, tried to get my seat belt buckled. And about that time, I felt driver side of the truck came off of the ground, I closed my eyes. Put my arms over my face. (INAUDIBLE) around the cab a little bit, not real sure if I blacked out.

I know that -- I was laying on the ground and picked myself up and looked over. The truck was on its wheels. I ran around to see -- I guess kind of sort of assess the damage. MORGAN: I mean, I've been watching these pictures again. It's just absolutely extraordinary you survived this. As this was all going on, and the tornado hit the truck, did you think that you were going to die? How were you feeling at that moment?

MORRISON: Honestly, sir, I believe very strongly that if it's your time to go, it's your time to go, and there's nothing you can do. So, I just pretty much held on to what I could. And when I felt the truck go over, my words were, "Here we go." That's all I could say.

MORGAN: Wow. Well, we're actually going to show now the extraordinary video which you took on your cell phone as the tornado comes toward the truck. We can see it here now. You can see there. It's coming. These are remarkable images.

When you see a tornado coming towards you -- I mean, I can't even imagine. I've never been in anything like that in my life. When these pictures emerged of the truck being thrown in the air, did your family know that was you, Jeremiah?

MORRISON: Actually, I've been told pretty much all my family and all my friends saw it. My dad had a sneaking suspicious it was me. And he started getting phone calls. And he started making phone calls.

They started calling my girlfriend. She started watching the news. Everybody was trying to get a hold of me. Pretty much when the EMT was bandaging me up, they wouldn't let me answer my cell phone. So, I called my boss, told him what was going on.

And then I noticed my girlfriend called. So, I answered when she called. Told her what was going on so she could spread the word. What I hear, most of my family saw it live.

MORGAN: It's a pretty good commercial for that cell phone. I mean, it must be one of the most durable, well-built cell phones in history.

MORRISON: Yes, sir, it's a Motorola Tundra. They say it's waterproof and all that good stuff.

MORGAN: Well, I hope you get free one out of that, definitely. It's the least you deserve.

I mean, did you see devastation around you, Jeremiah?

MORRISON: I saw the debris in front of me. And I thought the tornado was actually going to go directly across the interstate. I mean, I know tornadoes don't really have a path of which way they want to go, but I didn't expect it to come directly at me like it did. I saw a --


MORGAN: Jeremiah, when you -- when you look at the video pictures of that tornado hitting your truck, can you quite believe what you're watching?

MORRISON: Actually, the first time I saw it, after they took me to the hospital, I was laying in the hospital bed, and I was flipping through the channels because everybody was saying it was on. And that particular video, I said, that's not my truck, that's not my truck. It ain't my truck.

And a little bit later, they showed really good clear pictures. That is my truck. So, I was -- yes, I was amazed.

MORGAN: I mean, it's truly remarkable. I have to say, we assumed last night when we aired that video, we assumed the worst. It just seemed inconceivable that anyone could survive that.

We can see here, watching it again, the debris just flying through the air for hundreds and hundreds of kilometers here -- I mean, maybe even miles. It just goes on and on. The fact that you are now talking to me with fairly minor injuries is truly a miracle.

MORRISON: Sir, I do believe that day there was somebody watching over me and taking care of me.

MORGAN: What reaction have you had from your family, Jeremiah, since you've been able to get home?

MORRISON: Do what, sir? I'm sorry, I didn't hear you.

MORGAN: I wonder what reaction you've had from your family when you were able to go home.

MORRISON: My dad came up and met me at the hospital. My girlfriend wanted to come up but I told her there wasn't no sense, they were just going to do x-rays. My dad took me to meet my boss which in there about an hour away from Shawnee and he took me home.

All my family was, like, oh, that's amazing, are you OK? They all wanted to make sure I was OK. And then they were all -- that was awesome! So --

MORGAN: Well, it's an absolutely remarkable story of survival. In a few days, when there has been so much tragedy. I can only congratulate you, Jeremiah. What a remarkable escape. What a lucky man you are. And I know you know that and you've been very humble in this interview. Thank you very much for joining me.

MORRISON: Yes, sir, thank you very much.

MORGAN: The whole region's bracing itself for more storms tonight. Tornado's already been spotted near midtown Memphis.

CNN's meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is in Joplin, Missouri, with the latest news.

Jacqui, more devastation last night. We've just had an extraordinary interview with this guy whose trailer was tossed in the air. What is happening right now? JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, all these thunderstorms have moved east of where we are, so that's the good news for the folks here in Joplin. But the threat of tornados is still out there tonight. We've had at least 60 tornado reports so far for today. With several confirmed touchdowns.

The good news is so far, there's been no major damage and no injuries or fatalities today. There are tornado watches which are stacked up basically from about Cleveland, Ohio, stretching all the way southward into parts of Louisiana. So, the storm system continues to move off to the east with that big threat yet for tonight. However, tomorrow we're just looking at a slight risk of severe weather and much fewer tornadoes expected along the East Coast.

MORGAN: Jacqui, what do we know about the number of people who may have died in the Joplin tornado? Because we're still being told up to 1,500 people are unaccounted for. Do we know anything about who they are or what the likelihood that they survived?

JERAS: Well, here's what we know, that they have confirmed 125 fatalities. We don't know who all those people are. There hasn't been a list issued. And some people are frustrated because they'd like to know, you know, whether or not their loved one might be one of those 125 people.

The number that we've been hearing for about the last 24 hours in terms of missing and unaccounted for was at 1,500, and we just heard through a press conference with the city manager, Mark Rohr (ph) there, that he said the number is not that high. But he wouldn't give us a number. So we don't know if it's 1,300, is it 1,200, is it only 500? We don't know.

But, likely, there are going to be a lot more fatalities. We're afraid that number's going to go up very, very significantly compared to the 124 we have now.

And there's also some confusion. You know, communication is extremely limited here. People can't get a hold of each other, to know whether or not they're safe and might be in a nearby neighboring community.

And on top of that, some people who are injured have been transported to other hospitals across the region -- so there's a little confliction there in terms of where these people might be.

So, still yet to be determined. But the chances are at this point, finding anybody in addition that's still alive, we think it's going to be very minimal. They've changed search and rescue now to search and recovery.

The temperatures have been very cold here, Piers. You know, we're down to 66 degrees and the winds are gusting at 35 miles per hour. So, everybody is out here shivering and cold. Not to mention, they've been out here wet for days and days if anybody's still trapped in that rubble.

So, unfortunately, things aren't looking good for any more potential survivors.

MORGAN: Jacqui Jeras, thank you very much, indeed.

So many desperately sad stories are coming out of a tornado disaster zones. Hank Hamil's young family has suffered in an unbelievable manner. His 15-month-old son died in tornado last night in Oklahoma. His pregnant wife and 5-year-old daughter are in critical condition. And his 3-year-old son is still missing.

Hank's aunt, Pam Capener, joins me now.

Pam, thank you so much for joining me. I can't even begin to imagine what your family is going through. This is just an appalling story. Tell me exactly what happened.

PAM CAPENER, SEARCHING FOR MISSING 3 YR. OLD: I was watching the news on TV. I live in Dallas. And did not realize what they were showing. And then my nephew called me and asked if I had heard that his house had been destroyed.

And I had not heard that. I asked about his family. He did not know. He did not know if they had been recovered yet or not. He was out of town on business trying to get home to be with them. So --

MORGAN: Hank is your nephew and just to --

CAPENER: Hank is my nephew. He's my -- the father of the children.

MORGAN: Just to clarify the situation. His wife, Catherine Hamil (ph) is in critical condition in hospital. His son Ryan who is 3 years old is missing. His son Cole has -- is believed to have died in this --


MORGAN: Cole has died, we believe.

CAPENER: Correct.

MORGAN: And his daughter Kathleen who's 5 is in critical condition, too.

I mean, where is hank right now? Is he at the hospital?

CAPENER: He's either at the hospital -- I believe he's still out with the search. They're trying -- still trying to find Ryan. I think he's out there with them right now.

MORGAN: And this is a direct hit on the family home while Hank was out of town from the tornado.

CAPENER: Pardon me? MORGAN: Do you believe this was a direct hit from the tornado on the home that's caused all this while Hank was out of town, right?

CAPENER: Yes, definitely. There's nothing left but debris at the home. Maybe a sofa, a couple of picture books and things like that, but there's nothing else. It's just debris of their home.

MORGAN: I mean, it's an awful story. Pam, how are the family coping with this?

CAPENER: As you would expect, devastated, shocked, numb. It's been very difficult for al of them. Very difficult.

MORGAN: And in terms of the neighborhood, what kind of condition are the other houses around them? Were they all completely decimated?

CAPENER: Several homes were destroyed. The tree line is gone. They lived across the road from a little lake. And there were trees between the house and the lake and those were all gone now.

So, it's the neighborhood is pretty much destroyed.

MORGAN: Absolutely awful. Do you know right now what the condition is of Catherine and Kathleen?

CAPENER: I believe they're both in stable condition right now and Catherine is either in surgery or just gotten out, and Kathleen is in stable condition. So, we're thankful for that.

MORGAN: And we have some details -- we have some details, Pam, in relation to Ryan, who's 3, who's missing.

He's a blonde haired boy. He's got brown eyes. We've put up there your telephone number and also your e-mail address. So, anyone who is in that area who comes across any young boy who looks like Ryan, please contact you as a matter of urgency.

CAPENER: Yes. Yes, very brown eyes, very darling child.

MORGAN: Pam, I'm so sorry for what's happened to your family. I hope and pray that you manage to find Ryan, and Catherine and Kathleen pull through this.

CAPENER: Thank you. All the prayers are very much appreciated, very much. We're counting on that. So, we appreciate it.

MORGAN: Thank you for joining me. I appreciate it, too.

Bailey Knight lost everything in Sunday's twister but escaped with her life. She was at work in the Walmart in Joplin when the roof caved in. And she's here now to tell me her story.

Bailey, another extraordinary story of survival here. Looking at the pictures of Walmart right now. It's just completely obliterated.

Where were you at the precise moment the tornado hit? BAILEY KNIGHT, WAL-MART EMPLOYEE SURVIVED TORNADO: When the tornado hit, I was in site to store area. When I -- I was taking my last break and that was around 5:00 and they call a code black and I was in the break room when that happened. And then we had to all move in to site to store area.

MORGAN: And, you know, for people who have never been near a tornado, describe to me what it felt like to be, you know, under attack from a tornado.

KNIGHT: To me, in this area, we usually get a lot of severe weather like alerts, like be prepared. So, we didn't really take this one seriously. No one thought it would be this horrific.

MORGAN: And what did it feel like? Describe the experience to me.

KNIGHT: Going through this experience alone at work, like without my family, it was just devastating to me. I just wanted to stay as calm as I could to make it out of Walmart and to go be able to find my family. I just wanted to know they were going to be OK, because as I made it out of Walmart, I just started walking, and every time I looked around, you just could not tell where anything was. You couldn't tell what street you were on. You could not se anything.

MORGAN: I mean, even as you're talking to me now, Bailey, I can see behind you just complete wreckage and devastation. Where exactly are you right now?

KNIGHT: Right now, I'm at the Cunningham Park. And this park used to be beautiful. It used to be a nice playground. And it used to have a nice basketball court. You can't even tell where it was at.

MORGAN: And you've lost your home, your mother's lost her home, you've lost your car.

Are all the people that are close to you -- your relatives, your friends -- are they accounted for? Are they safe?

KNIGHT: Yes, unfortunately, we did lose all our materialistic items. But all my family is OK. All my friends are OK. I was able to contact them after it happened. And there was 12 people in my house where I live at the time of the tornado, and they all managed to make it out of there safely.

MORGAN: Well, that's a great relief, Bailey. And looking at those pictures again at Walmart, another extraordinary fortunate escape for you. And I hope you can start to rebuild your lives pretty soon.

KNIGHT: Thank you. So do I.

MORGAN: Thank you for joining me.

When we come back, the big political story of the day: did John Edwards use campaign contributions to buy his mistress' silence? Will he face charges?

Later, a tribute to the most powerful woman in television, Oprah Winfrey, on the day of her last show, from her best friends, including Gayle King.


KING: How far John Edwards has fallen in just a few short years -- from presidential candidate to a man facing criminal charges. He could now be indicted on charges he used campaign funds to buy his mistress' silence.

So, where did he go from here?

Joining me now is ABC News legal analyst and Mediate founder, Dan Abrams.

Dan, bring me up to speed with what has actually happened today. We're hearing pretty firm rumors now that John Edwards is likely to be indicted. Is that your understanding?

DAN ABRAMS, ABC NEWS LEGAL ANALYST: That's right. I mean, you know, ABC News is reporting that the Department of Justice has effectively given them the green light, meaning they said, if you feel you've got it, the indictment can move forward.

This would be an aggressive move by these prosecutors. We're not here just talking about violations of the Federal Election Commission. We're not talking about technical violations. We're talking about a crime. I mean, this would be federal prosecutors literally putting John Edwards on trial for a crime in which he could face up to five years in prison.

MORGAN: And what's extraordinary, this is a man who could easily have been running for presidency in the next election campaign and now, here he is facing this indictment. Tell me the background very quickly to these charges.

ABRAMS: So, what we're talking about here is the fact that John Edwards has now come forward and admitted that he had fathered a child with Rielle Hunter. He denied it for a long time. But one of his campaign aides has written a book, come forward and said, "I was effectively paid to deal with this. I was the one who took the blame. I pretended I had fathered the child. I was responsible for all of that.

And then the question is: OK, where did that money come from and why was that money being given to him? Those are going to be two very important questions. The "why" is important because in order to be a federal crime and a violation of the campaign finance law, it would need to have been something like that was done in the context of his campaign for president. Meaning, if I decide to pay for someone's child, I can do that as a gift. You can't do it if it's part of a presidential campaign.

The other point is that for it to be a crime, John Edwards would have to have known that's what the money was for.

So, there's going to be a lot of legal wrangling here before --

MORGAN: And also, Dan, if I may just quickly read a statement that his attorney, Greg Craig, issued today. "John Edwards has done wrong in his life and he knows it better than anyone but he did not break the law. The government's theory is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law. It's novel and untested. There's no civil or criminal precedent for such a prosecution.

The government originally investigated allegations that Senator Edwards' campaign's funds were misused but continued its pursuit even after finding that not one penny from the Edwards campaign was involved. The Justice Department has wasted millions of dollars and thousands of hours on a matter more appropriately a topic for the Federal Election Commission to consider, not a criminal court."

So pretty powerful denial there. What do you make of what you said?

ABRAMS: Yes. It makes you think that they might not be able to reach an agreement. I mean, a lot of people are talking about a possible plea agreement. That's not the kind of language you hear from a defense attorney when you're going to hear in a week from now that they've got a deal. Those are fighting words, so to speak, from the defense team.

MORGAN: Yes. It doesn't sound like a deal is on the table at the moment, certainly.

Dan Abrams, thank you very much indeed.

ABRAMS: All right, Piers.

MORGAN: Coming up, the end of an era for Oprah Winfrey. I'll talk to the woman who knows her better than anybody in the world. Her best friend Gayle King's tribute to the great Oprah.



WINFREY: There are no words to match this moment. Every word I've ever spoken from the stage of "The Oprah Show" for 4,561 days of my life is what this moment is all about.


MORGAN: An emotional Oprah Winfrey ends her groundbreaking daytime talk show after a quarter of a century. What must she be feeling tonight?\

Well, no one will know that answer better than her best friend Gayle King. And Gayle joins me now.

Gayle, what a moment that was not just for Oprah, for you, for the whole team. Everyone connected with "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and a real piece of television history. How's everyone feeling?

GAYLE KING, OPRAH'S BEST FRIEND: Piers, how is everybody feeling? I'm all dressed up, going to the party immediately when I'm done. Oprah's having a huge party tonight for her staff. That's why I put on my party dress for you, Piers.

She's having a huge party for her staff. Just to say thank you, thank you, thank you, because after tonight, this will really be the last time that this group of people is all together. And so she wanted to have a huge send off for them.

So she -- to answer your question, she's feeling great. She's feeling great. Everybody else is too.

MORGAN: She looked quite emotional there. It must have been quite a moment for Oprah.

KING: You know, Oprah was so ready for this moment. She really was. She got up early. She did a little bit of meditation. She only lost it at the very end, when she was just saying how much it meant to her.

She started off by saying I want to say thank you; this is a love letter to the viewers who have supported me all this time. She sees her talk show as a classroom of sorts. She just wanted to leave them with some of the lessons that mean the most to her.

But no question, it was a very emotional time. It's 25 years. And now she's going on to the next chapter. But boy, I thought, Piers -- I thought it ended with perfection.

From beginning to end -- I know I'm biased, but judging on the e- mails I'm getting, a lot of people felt the same way.

MORGAN: I think it hit completely the right balance.

KING: Yes.

MORGAN: I know that Oprah didn't want it to be a great big love fest to her. It was more about a celebration of what became an extraordinary part of American culture. You've worked with Oprah so long now. What is it -- if you were to try to crystallize the magic of what Oprah's achieved with this show, what would you say it is?

KING: I would say, without question, it's connection. Oprah has a very unique ability and an uncanny ability to connect to people. And she connects with all people in all ways. And so if I had to say one word about her, it really is connection.

I was talking to some of the women in the line. Number one, they just found out at the last minute they were going. She put in the audience, Piers, people who have wanted to go to the Oprah show for years but who could never get there. So people who have been waiting for 10 years, for 15 years, some for as long as 25 years.

Everybody who was sitting in that audience were people who had not been to the Oprah show before. Many people told me, you know, she's on my bucket list. I met one woman who was there with her daughter who was 30 something. She said, you know, I feel that Oprah raised my daughter. We had so many life lessons from her. It's only fitting we would be here today.

So for me, definitely connection.

MORGAN: Gayle, here's a question for you. Who do you think of all the celebrities in the world is the one that's appeared on the Oprah show the most?

KING: Celine Dion.

MORGAN: No, it's you, Gayle.

KING: Oh. No, but, you know, it's so funny, I don't feel -- I don't see myself honestly -- I'm not trying to be falsely modest here. When you think of celebrities that have been on the show, I really don't put myself in that category. Most people know me --

MORGAN: You're the most famous best friend in the world.

KING: Listen, I wear that banner very proudly. That's absolutely true. That's absolutely true. But it would be -- other than me, it would be Celine Dion. Yes, sir.

MORGAN: Of all the great moments in the history of this show, which one for you was the moment?

KING: Oh, gosh. You know, you're almost asking me -- it's like picking a favorite child for me. I love recently -- I really mean that sincerely. Especially when you look over the last year, I would look at the show and say, oh, my God, I forgot about that. I forgot about that.

You know, the woman who accidentally left her baby in the back seat of the car. Something that I thought could happen to any of us, when you're used to being a creature of habit. And you know, the woman came on and told her story.

I love the men who stood up and said they'd been sexually abused, many of them talking for the very first time. The iconic moment on the show when Oprah wheels that big red wagon of fat. Which, by the way, today remains the highest rated Oprah show.

It would be so hard really for me to pick one. It's not the celebrity -- yeah, that's a good question. What's your, Piers, was when you were on, right?

MORGAN: My favorite moment?

KING: Yeah.

MORGAN: Obviously the moment I came on was a big high for all of you.

KING: Yes, for sure.

MORGAN: In terms of the show itself, I don't think you could ever beat the drama of that moment when you had the Oprah's favorite things special with the Australia trip, and you have a jumbo jet marching on to stage with John Travolta at the helm. It doesn't get more ridiculously spectacular than that.

KING: No, you know, you are so right about that. That's the thing. It's so hard to pick a favorite moment because there have been so damn many of them.

You're right, that's the way she started the season, her very last season, taking ultimate viewers with her, based on letters that they wrote, who have been with her for a very long time. Oprah really is all about giving. She's a force for good. She believes when you have something good, share it with others.

And boy, has she shared with us for the last 25 years.

MORGAN: Gayle, we're going to take a short break now. When we come back, I want to ask you what you think is the impact of Oprah's show.

First, I ask my PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT viewers what was their favorite moment of the "Oprah Winfrey Show"? This was number three. It's, of course, Oprah's favorite things.


WINFREY: Now you've got the hottest ticket in town. And you didn't even know it. This is your --

It's called a Blackberry. It is very cool. Bring out the jewels.




WINFREY: Every single day, I came down from my makeup room on our Harpo elevator, I would offer a prayer of gratitude for the delight and the privilege of doing this show. Gratitude is the single greatest treasure I will take with me from this experience, the opportunity to have done this work.


MORGAN: Another heartfelt moment from Oprah Winfrey's final show today. Gayle King, her best friend, is back with me now.

Gayle, if you were to try to assess the impact that Oprah's show has had on America, what would you say it's been?

KING: You know, there's not a day that's gone by that somebody doesn't come up to me. Earlier today, when I was getting over here, somebody stopped me and said, because of Oprah, I felt the courage to come out and tell my parents that I was gay.

I've had women who have stopped me on street that said, you know, because of Oprah, I made a decision about whether I was going to get a divorce or whether I was going to get married or how I felt about my own self.

That letter that she read on the air about watching you every day helped me see the light inside of myself. It's hard to name just one particular thing. You know, Oprah's been so candid and so open about all of the twists and turns that she's gone through, in the hope that sharing her personal pain and her personal struggle will help others.

And I know that that has been the case time and time and time again.

MORGAN: I want to play you, Gayle, a clip from my interview with Oprah and to remind the viewers Oprah helped me launch my show. She didn't know me at all. I knew that to get Oprah, I had to get Gayle --

KING: oh, that's not true.

MORGAN: I got you on board. And you delivered Oprah. What you did -- you're being humble about it. I know. I want to play you a clip from what Oprah said about you in that interview, which I found fascinating.


WINFREY: I would wish for every person on Earth to experience somebody to care for them and to know them in such a way that they only want the best for you. But to have somebody who is a friend -- and you would know this too, that when you become famous and you have access to lots of different things, you know, a lot of people lose oxygen. And they can't make the summit with you.

So to be able to have somebody who not only can make the summit, but stand at the summit with you and rejoices in your being able to make it.


KING: Yes.

MORGAN: That was a remarkable tribute, Gayle. What did you feel when you heard her say that?

KING: You know, I just felt that she's really summing up how I feel. You know, for me -- people marvel at this, and I'm always surprised by it. Because I think anybody who has a close friend that they love, that they care about -- this isn't hard to do. I care deeply about her, the way I do my own children. She's certainly not a child to me, but she's certainly somebody I care about and you want them to do well. So I don't think this is so unusual. Think about how you feel about your best friend is, Piers. Think about that for a second.

MORGAN: Well, I want you and Oprah to be my new best friends. That was the whole point.

KING: Yes, we're fun. We are fun.

MORGAN: You are. What I was struck by -- I was struck when I interviewed Oprah A, by her generosity in helping me launch my show, the way she continued to be very supportive afterwards. She invited me to go on her show.

I saw real humanity there and a kindness to someone that she didn't really know, who was a young upstart Brit trying his luck in America, replacing the great Larry King.

MORGAN: Piers, stop it. You were not a young upstart Brit. That's the thing. Your reputation precedes you. And you're very good at what you do. Oprah likes sitting down talking to intelligent, smart people. You certainly fall into that category.

MORGAN: Well, that's nice of you to say so.

KING: It's true.

MORGAN: The point I was going to make is I found her remarkably warm and kind and generous in a way --

KING: What I like is that when people meet her for the first time, they are so blown away by her humanity. They're also so touched by -- she's so damn normal.

You know, to have the wealth that she does, the power that she has, the influence that she has, nothing gets by her. She notices everybody in the room. She pays attention to everybody in the room, and makes a point of speaking to everybody in the room.

Somebody wrote something very interesting to her recently, talking about the end of the show. Martha Beck actually, who is a columnist at the magazine, that said you are liked by so many and you are liked -- you are liked by so many, but yet there's nobody like you. And I thought that was a perfect way to sum up who Oprah is.

MORGAN: Perfect way to describe her, yeah. She's a remarkable woman and a class act.

Gayle, you're having a special two-hour Oprah finale after-party show, which will be broadcast live from the Harpo Studios in Chicago tomorrow night,10:00 eastern, on the OWN Channel. I'm sure it's going to be great fun. Just please --

MORGAN: No, you know what's so -- Piers, Piers, Piers. This is the thing, I'm doing 9:00 and 11:00 in the morning on OWN, and 9:00 and 11:00 at night on OWN. My special guest -- I'll bet you couldn't even get him -- is Stedman, because he doesn't talk to anybody. So we're talking to Stedman tomorrow, Hugh Jackman, Diane Sawyer, Kristin Malocroc (ph).

But the most important thing is the viewers. I really want viewers to call in with -- I'd like to hear what they thought about the finale. I'm getting amazing e-mails from people who say, boy, she ended it on such the perfect note and she did.

MORGAN: Have a great show, Gayle.

KING: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Send my love to Oprah. She's a class act.

KING: I will, I will. She is. Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Thank you.

When we come back, Suze Orman and Lisa Ling on what it was like to work with Oprah Winfrey. First, here's a moment from the "Oprah Winfrey Show." It's number two on my viewers' list of top Oprah moments. You know this one. It's when everybody got a car.


WINFREY: You get a car. You get a car. Everybody gets a car. Everybody gets a car.




MORGAN: Anderson, just before we leave you, this 1,500 people missing -- is there an expectation that the death toll is likely to rise pretty substantially from the current 126?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There's no way to know sure. You know, people will say off the record, yes, they expect the death toll to rise significantly, But not 1,500. Fifteen hundred kind of shows more about the lack of coordination and organization, and the difficulty of trying to figure out where everybody is.

I don't think the death toll is going to be anything close to 1,500. But they do say it's going to rise significantly from the 125, which currently it is.

MORGAN: Anderson, thank you very much.

Oprah's vast audiences aren't the only ones who will miss her show. A TV family will too. Here are two of the best known, Lisa Ling, the journalist and host of "Our America" on Oprah's OWN network. And Suze Orman is the host of "the Suze Orman Show" on cNBC and the author of "The Money Class, Learn to Create Your New American Dream." Welcome, ladies. Quite a sad day. Suze, let me start with you. You've been associated with Oprah through magazines, a TV show, all sorts of different guises. I guess the obvious question for you, given your expertise in personal finance, is tell me about Oprah the businesswoman, because she's amassed this extraordinary fortune by really cementing herself as this queen-like figure in America.

SUZE ORMAN, CNBC ANCHOR: This is a queen-like figure that probably deals with her money better than most people I come in contact with. For instance, Piers, if I were to say to you, do you know how much your utility bill is every month, what would you say to me? Would you know the answer to that?

MORGAN: A very convincing answer.

ORMAN: So if you asked Ms. Winfrey how much her utility bill was every month, she would be able to tell you. She is the one who opens up her bank statements.

It does not matter how wealthy she gets, she has never gotten out of touch with realness of it and being responsible for it.

So Oprah is a businesswoman, Oprah as an everyday person really cares about every single penny that she's ever made. And I love that about that woman.

MORGAN: I was struck when I interviewed her, a actually, that she said that she still writes all the salary checks for her huge staff, over a certain level. She signs them all off.

ORMAN: Yeah. And she's not joking about that. It's no secret that I'm going to be producing and being part of the Oprah Winfrey Network. And I'm going to do a show about money.

So a little bit ago, I was sitting down with her and I was saying Oprah, we have to decide what this show is going to be, because most producers I know are so out of touch with their money, and you're the only one I know who is still in touch with their money.

So when it comes to somebody who is being real, Oprah Winfrey is as real as they get in every aspect of her life.

MORGAN: Lisa Ling, let me bring you in here. One of my guilty pleasures right now is that show "Behind the Scenes with Oprah Winfrey," that airs on OWN, where you get this fascinating insight into how Oprah creates the show of hers. What is she like to work for in reality?

LISA LING, HOST OF "OUR AMERICA": It's interesting that's one of your favorite shows, one of your guilty pleasures. For me, it's really been one of the greatest honors of my life. As someone who has spent most of her career working in the field and trying to tell substantive stories, it's been such a unique opportunity for me to have this incredible forum.

I've reported on stories that I don't think I would ever be able to cover for a news network, stories about gang rape in the Congo, bride burning in India, child trafficking throughout Ghana. This is on a daytime talk show.

I think she's going to be tremendously missed, because there is no show on daytime television that really juggles the kind of diversity of stories and issues and topics that Oprah's show does.

MORGAN: Yes, Lisa, why do you think Oprah allows you to do all that kind of stuff? You're quite right. It would never normally appear on daytime television in America. But she made it important. Why was it important to Oprah? And in terms of how you chose the stories, who was the driving force, you or Oprah?

LING: I pitched stories. The producers are constantly pitching stories. Ultimately she signs off on them. I think the reason why it's important for her is because, ultimately, she really believes that her role, her job is to raise consciousness.

She has this forum. And she recognizes the responsibility in that. And she doesn't just want to do trash television. Certainly not every single day can be as substantive as a lot of the shows that she's covered.

But she intersperses those really serious and important shows with stories -- with topics like the best jeans for your butt. But I think that's important. The levity is really important.

MORGAN: Suze, in terms of Oprah's brand, which she described to me as love, the love brand, but actually, I think it's more than that. What I always felt with Oprah -- the power of the Oprah brand came through her searing honesty, whether it was producing a great big trolley load of fat to show how much weight she had put on and lost and so on, or talking about her struggles with eating disorders, or whatever it may be, the abuse and so on -- it was the searing honesty, wasn't it?

ORMAN: It was the searing honesty. But, you know, I was there yesterday that in audience for Oprah's -- you know, it showed today, but she taped it yesterday.

It was interesting, when she talked about her show, she said that show was the great love of my life. And so it was her honesty. but it was her love for every single person that came to that show, her gratitude for them showing up for her and allowing her to show up for them.

So it was her honesty. But I have to tell you, it really was her love for every single person and thing that happened on that show that literally propelled her to who she is to this day.

MORGAN: Lisa, finally, what would you say is the big lesson you learned from Oprah?

LING: Well, first of all, she's one of the hardest working people I've ever met. I mean, this woman never leaves the office. Truly, she's been able to maintain this level of integrity that I think has allowed her to continue to be endeared into people's lives. She really -- despite her success, she really does seems like your best friend.

And she has -- as you said and as Suze said, she's really opened herself up. She's really allowed herself to become transparent. And in doing so, I think people really have come to trust her in ways that they might not trust other people.

MORGAN: They have. It's a sad day. But it's not the end of the Oprah show. She will, of course, be coming back on her own network. And she is, as I said earlier, down to her last 2.5 billion. So I won't be shedding too many tears today, I don't think.

But I will miss that show. It was a fantastic show. Thank you both for joining me tonight to talk about it.

LING: Thanks, Piers.

ORMAN: Thank you.

MORGAN: Here's the Oprah moment that you voted as your favorite. It's Oprah and Gayle's quite extraordinary road trip.


KING: All you had to do today was ride and listen to my singing.


KING: That should have been very pleasurable.

WINFREY: That is why I'm so damn crazy. I've been driving for six hours.



MORGAN: That's all for us tonight. Tomorrow I'll sit down with two major world leaders, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, with some very lively comments about President Obama. But for now, Anderson Cooper with "AC 360."