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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
When Wild Animals Attack; War Hero vs. Congressman; Mark Spitz, Olympic Legend
Aired July 10, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Jungle Jack himself, Jack Hanna.
Plus when politicians attack. A congressman versus a war hero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: She's a war hero, but you know what, she's running for Congress.
LT. COL. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I think that Mr. Walsh is being very irresponsible in his words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Tonight, Tammy Duckworth fights back at Congressman Joe Walsh who accused her of making too much out of her war record.
And he set the standard for hauling Olympic gold out of the pool, no, not Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz. Now I'll get him to set the record straight, who's the best, Spitz or Phelps?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: The peak of both your power, who would win?
MARK SPITZ, 11-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Well, I'd like to say, you know, selfishly maybe I might beat him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Mark Spitz's inspiring advice for today's Olympians and his harrowing escape from a terror attack with the whole world watching.
This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
Good evening. Our big story tonight. Deadly danger in the great outdoors. A Florida teenager lost the lower part of his right arm to an alligator while swimming with her friends in Florida on Monday afternoon. And a California man was in his kayak when a great white shark took a chunk out of his boat on Saturday.
And those are not the only recent wild animal attacks. Just from the start of this month, that's only 10 days, there have been at least seven different attacks across the country by bears, alligators, a shark and a mountain lion. But are the attacks on the rise? And what may be behind them?
Joining me now a man who knows a lot about this kind of thing. He survived a grizzly attack himself. Jack Hanna is the director emeritus at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. He's the host of "Jack Hanna into the Wild" and "Jack Hanna's Wild Countdown." He's outside the Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona, and has a couple of his alligators with him.
JACK HANNA, DIRECTOR EMERITUS, COLUMBUS ZOO AND AQUARIUM: Good to be here, nice to see you, Piers.
MORGAN: It appears to be quite a worrying time at the moment for attacks by animals. What do you make of what's going on? People are trying to equate the overheating, in other words, the extreme high temperatures we're getting, with this spate of attacks by animals.
Do you see that correlation?
HANNA: Right. Well, I see the correlation only from the high heat and the weather affects the food chain of these animals. For example, it could be the fish for the alligator. It could be the berries with the bears. For example, this year bears came down much earlier because there wasn't much snow. Last year there's a lot of snow so the bears came down later.
So really, the food sources, this is what I think the temperatures affect. Not necessarily the animals. I don't think -- I've been with the alligators, I've been -- almost lost my life to a gator once. And I don't think the temperature will probably make any difference to a gator. It's a matter of food sources, of people leaving food out. And we can get to that when you ask me the questions about how each of these things happened.
MORGAN: You know, yesterday, a young 17-year-old, Kaleb Langdale, in Moore Haven, Florida, was attacked by an alligator. Let's hear what he did to survive his attack in his own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KALEB LANGDALE, ATTACKED BY AN ALLIGATOR: When the gator was about right here from me, I take my left hand and I grabbed that skin up underneath him, trying to control him, and he just kept going. And I pulled his head up. And I wrapped my legs around him. Then he just went and dove. Well, he started pulling me down and I knew it's either this bone or -- I've got to lose this arm or I'm going to die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Now, he very sadly lost his arm. It was found in the alligator hours later. Doctors were unable to reattach the limb. Interestingly, Kaleb told doctors that he said they always see alligators at this river in Florida but they usually mind their own business. This alligator charged him in a way he'd never seen before. What do you think, Jack? What could have caused the alligator to have behaved like that?
HANNA: Well, several things. When I almost got it was when the alligators were next to their eggs. They lay -- they have a nest. Just like a bird, they lay eggs. And when they're guarding that nest, the alligators and crocodiles are some of the most aggressive creatures on the planet. They'll take down a boat if you come up to their nest.
And they're not on their nest, they're away from their nest. But I think in this situation, the gator was there by -- it is breeding season. I don't know about the nest yet. But that young man, it's amazing how he knew that because he put his arm out there. If he hadn't he'd been gone, because he did the death roll. Like when I filmed a good buddy of mine in Africa -- in Namibia, lost not just this whole arm because he saw a gator coming after me. We're like that, gator took the arm off here. Then another gator -- or crocodile in this way and got this one.
So this whole part of his back. So that's what happens. Whatever they grab, they're going to do a roll like this. So that's what happened to that young man underwater. Boy, he was -- he was so smart, presenting his arm. If not, he would not be here talking today. And I think it's because, as I said before, it's because either breeding season and/or guarding those eggs. I'm not quite sure which one it was.
But gators, let me show you something here, Piers. Gators also hunt with vibrations. Like right back in here, I don't know if you can see that. I hope you can see the gator, because I'm not getting any closer to it.
MORGAN: Yes, yes, we can. Yes.
HANNA: Back in here are sensors. The sensors are back in here. They pick up vibrations in the water. Also, what happens to a lot of people if they're caught, they're feeding gators, they relate food to people. That's why we try and tell people -- we'll get into the bear in just a second. Gators are -- they have a very small brain. They've been around since the dinosaur era. But they've come back by the thousands.
And by the way, you'll get hit by lightning before you get attacked by a gator. Florida gator (INAUDIBLE) do a great job. I think 22 people have lost their lives in 65 years. That's a terrible thing to happen. But again, lightning kills more people probably than that happens. So again, the sensor's here. They have double eyelids, by the way. You can see how their jaws are. The crocodiles have much more pointed nose, that type of thing. This is a small one.
I think he's -- he said he's 11 foot. This is only a five-footer right here. Can you imagine the size of the one that got that young man? Obviously, what twice, three times bigger than this one. But this gator here, these animals can go down under water for who knows, you know, three, four minutes, some people say 20 minutes at a time. And then by the way, one last thing. They can outrun any man on land. Some people think they can. They can run 20 yards quicker than any human being on earth. And then they'll stop. They also can leap forward. So you just can't go up to a gator thinking he's sleeping because he feels the vibrations.
MORGAN: It's not just alligators, Jack. As I was saying at the start of the show. There have been a lot of sightings in strange places. Not just parks and forest preserves. Bears, for example, New Hampshire, someone's kitchen.
MORGAN: Arizona, someone's backyard. North Carolina, the same. New Jersey, South Carolina, California, Maine and Florida. All in rather unusual places. Mountain lions. One in Nebraska within two blocks from a school.
MORGAN: In Iowa in a neighborhood.
MORGAN: What is bringing these wild animals into these kind of areas?
HANNA: Well, again, the population of lions is increasing. Of the mountain lion, cougar, puma, all the same animal. Is increasing. The black bear is increasing. The grizzly bear is increasing in Montana where I live. In Idaho and Wyoming. These animals are increasing in numbers.
People are increasing. People are camping out a lot more. And the only word of advice I can give, because only two years ago, and I've done this for 40 something years, my wife and I were hiking, and sure enough, a grizzly comes up with two 2-year-olds. And the one comes right at us.
The one thing is the key, Piers, of all this, is you do not run from a wild animal. That's a mountain lion -- I'm sorry, a bear, black or grizzly, a fox, a wolf, whatever. Do not run. People -- young people have to understand this. Carry your bear spray. If you live in these areas, bear spray. Some people say mace. It's not, it's pepper spray. It's a big canister. That's what helped me and saved my you- know-what, my tail, when this bear came for me.
It was just a young black bear tying to -- young grizzly trying to prove himself. It's very important, the bear spray. Guns, it's proven that 90 percent of the time the bear will turn around and/or whatever that might be, a mountain lion, whatever that might be. But -- a grizzly bear can run 100 yards in six seconds. Six seconds. A football field. You cannot run -- it's a hard thing to understand, but you have to stand there and make noise. Because the minute you turn, that's like a fleeing animal to them. They're not man-eaters, a bear and/or a shark, and/or whatever it is. Like the shark thing you mentioned. That surfboard or tidal board, they were around seals, right? That kind of looks like a big old seal, doesn't it? But it's going much slower. So what would you do if you were a shark? And I've had the fortunate experience to dive with the great whites. To dive with the tiger sharks in South Pacific. And so these animals aren't after people.
You know, disturbing (INAUDIBLE) is a man-eater. Yes, because they relate man to food. If people feed the gators, then the gator relates that person to food. If you leave your picnics in Montana or Idaho, wherever you're hiking in Arizona, or whatever state has black bears or grizzlies, you leave a food there at the picnic pace, they're going to come back. Like the lady, those little bears, the car, the mother bear, it went to cars all the time. That's because they found food in the car for the first time. So they relate the car to food. Just like all these animals you've discussed tonight.
MORGAN: I mean that extraordinary pictures. The guy in California in a kayak. Let's just take a look at this.
HANNA: Now, that's, that's --
MORGAN: I mean, that's him with his kayak. But he actually got approached by a great white they believe. And what do you do? If you're in a kayak in the ocean, people are out there swimming now, it's the summer. It's very hot, we know that. A lot of people going swimming to cool down.
What do you do if you get approached by, well, a very large shark? This is the one in Cape Cod. This is the one actually I think is a great white. There were two incidents. One in California which is the one we just saw with the bitten kayak.
MORGAN: This is another guy. Well, look at him there. That is apparently a great white coming after him.
HANNA: Is that on the East Coast, right? The New York state, I can't remember where that one happened.
MORGAN: That's was in Cape Cod, yes.
HANNA: Where seals or sea lions or something out there. Right. Again, if there's seals in the area and you're surfing or whatever, kayaking or paddle boarding in that area, then you can guarantee that there might be shark and other predatory animals in that area. And so, you know, my advice is probably get away from them and not do that. Or, I'm a sissy. If I was me, I'd be paddle boarding, surfing, next to shore.
I think we have had shark attacks near shore, but the further you are toward the shore, the less problems you might have. These guys know. These surfers know. It's like an Indy 500 driver or maybe a NASCAR driver. They know when you go out there what they have to do and what they're up against. Same thing with a lot of surfers. These guys are good.
And if I was on a kayak or a surfboard, I don't know, I'd just paddle like crazy probably. And I'd literally get on top of the board and not have any of my appendages hanging over the board. Whatever that might be. Arms, leg, or whatever it might be. That's what -- and I'm not a surfer. I'm just saying what I would do. I'd let him get the board and then once they usually take that first bite, by the way, that's where the shark, from what I've seen, they take that first bite and that's it.
Of course if it's part of your anatomy or body, then that's a bad situation because then the blood flows and it's -- you know, it's another situation.
MORGAN: And, Jack, very, very quickly, and finally, is it worse than it is normally? Or is this just there's been a rash of stories making lurid headlines?
HANNA: I think -- I think it's a rash of stories in today's world, you know, with the media and all, and texting, everything we have today. I think there's a lot more people that might be happening to. I do think it might be because the weather's changing food sources as far as berries ripening. As far as animals getting water, that type of thing. That might have a little bit to do with it.
Bur remember something, I don't think animals attack because of hot or cold. I've been working with animals all over the world. Hot, 120 degrees, and I don't see that. But I do see maybe because of food sources the bears came down early in Montana, late one year. And then of course the berries aren't there. So what they do, they get in houses where people have the dog food out, the bird food out, their chickens out. And that's what happens.
MORGAN: Well, Jack, I come from a country where the most threatening thing is normally a tortoise so I will certainly be heading out this weekend with great trepidation. But I appreciate you joining me.
Jack Hanna's show "Into the Wild," check out your local listings. Jack's new show, "Wild Countdown," Saturday mornings.
I really appreciate you coming on, Jack. Great to talk to you.
HANNA: Yes, sir, thank you.
MORGAN: Coming up, a wounded warrior running for Congress. Her opponent said she should stop talking about her service. Next, Tammy Duckworth has her say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DUCKWORTH: Four years ago, I was co-piloting a Blackhawk helicopter north of Baghdad when a rocket-propelled grenade struck the cockpit. My buddies carried me out. Not knowing if I was dead or alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Tammy Duckworth at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. Talking about the wartime attack that cost her the use of her legs. She was awarded the Purple Heart. Now she's running for Congress from Illinois. So far, so good. But her opponent Joe Walsh says she should stop talking about her service to the country which has created a national uproar. And Tammy Duckworth joins me now.
Tammy, welcome. First of all, let me thank you for your service to your country. You are remarkably courageous. And I think many people share that. Having said that, does Joe Walsh have a point? He's a political opponent to you. And he clearly believes that you have been -- let's not say manipulating it but deliberately overusing perhaps your military service and heroism and courage which is without any dispute to try and promote your political position. And that's to his disadvantage.
Do you accept that if you were guilty of that charge that would be unacceptable?
DUCKWORTH: Well, I have to say, Piers, I've not been talking exclusively about my military service. And, in fact, I think Mr. Walsh created this uproar because he didn't want to admit to the people in the district that he cast several bad votes last week. And, in fact, he was the only member of the Illinois delegation to vote against a much-needed transportation bill that would have brought and is going to bring much-needed jobs to the district.
So I think he's just, you know, repeat things that are not true. And he's just trying to shift people. But I think it's really irresponsible of him to shift the focus away from really what's important in the district, and that's jobs and the economy.
MORGAN: Let's take a look at Joe Walsh in action talking about you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH: Now I'm running against a woman who -- I mean, my god, that's all she talks about. Our true hero is the men and women who served us. It's the last thing in the world they talk about. That's why we are so indebted and in awe of what they have done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: And that's not the first time he's commented on your military service. And he said this on another occasion. "I do believe as someone who respects what Tammy Duckworth did as someone who is thankful and sorry for her injuries. I do believe she talks about her service too much. As a voter in this district, I want to know where she stands on issues. And I have so much respect for what she did. In fact, she sacrificed her body for the country. Eh, let's move on. What else has she done? Female, wounded veteran. Eh, she's nothing more than a hand picked Washington bureaucrat candidate. David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel just picked her and dropped her in the district."
I've got to say, regardless of the reality of all this, wherever that may stand, just the language he's using is very insulting, very patronizing. And also I think discredits him in the sense that you truly are somebody whose service is highly commendable. So I come at this from that position.
But again, I suppose I come back to the bigger picture here. Do you think the best way to call his bluff, Tammy, might be to not mention your military service again, and to now fight him exclusively on the issues, so that he can't argue that?
DUCKWORTH: Well, I've actually been fighting him on the issue, Piers. He's the one that's bringing up the military service. He's the one that challenged me, you know, invited me to a town hall meeting during a weekend when I actually have National Guard duty. So I've been talking about the issues. The fact of the matter is, he's voted three times for the Ryan budget, which cuts Medicare and Medicaid as we know it. He wants to extend the Bush tax cuts for the top 1 percent at the expense of our seniors and our disabled.
And he's really not done anything for the district. And so when I challenge him on these issues, he comes back with these very false charges. And you know, what's irresponsible about what he's doing is that these attacks -- I don't mind if he attacks me personally, but when he says a veteran is not a true hero if they speak about their military service, he's now discouraging 23 million veterans across this great nation from speaking about their service.
At a time when young vets coming home need to be talking about the leadership skills they developed in the military. When they need to be talking about their combat actions and how they perform extraordinary feats of courage. And that these things make them better employees. They should be talking about their service. And so his attacks on me actually is going to affect other veterans. And that's very irresponsible in a sitting congressman.
MORGAN: Yes, and I would imagine John McCain and Colin Powell might have a word or two to say about their right to speak about their service. It does, I think, give people a sense of someone's character.
Let's talk very quickly, a Gallup poll on Memorial Day showed me just 34 percent of veterans back President Obama while 58 percent support Romney. Why do you think he's struggling so much with the hearts and minds of support of the veterans?
DUCKWORTH: Well, you know, I think that there's a difference between what -- how President Obama has gone about serving our veterans. He's done it actually in a very quiet way. Most veterans don't realize that he has increased the budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs more than 18 percent over his time in office. And, in fact, the president has given V.A. the largest budget increase in over 30 years.
And so I think part of what we need to do is talk about the very good things that have happened for veterans in the last three years. We've certainly turned around the V.A. I was very proud of the work that I was able to do at V.A., serving with Secretary Shinseki, cutting down homelessness, reaching out to female veterans. The work that we did with partnerships with states and communities and cities to make sure that our veterans got the help they need.
But, you know, coming back to what Congressman Walsh is doing, he's shifting the focus away from the real work that needs to be done in Washington, and really raising the partisan rhetoric at a time when the people in this district really need us to come together and find practical solutions.
MORGAN: Yes, and I think he's also committing a massive own goal. I think absolutely nobody agrees with him. I think you're perfectly entitled to talk about what you did for your country. And the fact you got a Purple Heart says it all. I think he should zip it. And concentrate on his own game.
Anyway, Tammy Duckworth, thank you very much for joining me.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you.
MORGAN: Coming up, one of the greatest swimmers in Olympic history, Mark Spitz, his inspiring advice for today's Olympians. And crucially whether he thinks he can beat Michael Phelps.
MORGAN: Mark Spitz is a true Olympic legend. Long before Michael Phelps jumped into a pool, Spitz was swimming the way into the record books. He won seven gold medals in the 1972 games in Munich. Forty years later, he remains an icon, an American hero, and he's here.
Mark Spitz, welcome.
SPITZ: My pleasure.
MORGAN: What's it like being an American icon?
SPITZ: Probably a little better than not being an icon, you know?
SPITZ: I was sort of thrusted into that opportunity in 1972. I didn't realize that my performance was going to elevate myself to a level where people would be looking at it as something special.
MORGAN: I remember it vividly. I was 7 years old. It was the first Olympic Games I'd ever watched on television with any kind of real interest or be old enough to understand what's going on. And all I remember was you were like this incredible fish. Every time you went in the water, everyone else had to get out of there and you just destroyed everyone. And you also had the most incredible mustache that anyone had ever seen.
SPITZ: You know, I --
MORGAN: Which is now gone.
SPITZ: I know. I grew that mustache out of spite because my college coach said you need to look like the all-American boy. And, you know -- and so it took me for about five or six months to grow that moustache. I went to the Olympic trials. Had intentions of shaving it off. All my competitors in the press were talking about it. I go, wow, they're not figuring out how to beat me, I might as well keep this thing.
But I had the intention to actually -- shave the thing off the day before competition. And I had a chance to swim in the Olympic venue just one more time in the evening because we never had a chance to practice in the pool in the evening, the Russians were there, and I got in the water and the Russians let me swim in a side lane for a couple of moments and when I got out, one of the questions were, are you going to shave this thing off?
And I don't know why, I just came up with this thought, no, I'm just not going to -- I'm not going to shave it off. Well, doesn't it slow you down? I said, no, I deflect the water away from my mouth and I'm much more smooth and he's translating. Every Russian swimmer that was a male had a mustache the following year.
SPITZ: They figure it must have been good. It worked for me.
MORGAN: You became this huge poster boy for American sport afterwards. What are your memories of that Olympics? Because to go for a win seven, I mean, other than Michael Phelps, and about one or two people. No one's ever been in that position. You were very competent. I mean you had said at the previous games you thought you would win everything and you hadn't. So you came with a bit more pressure at the '72 games.
MORGAN: And you swept the board. Talk me through what it was like.
SPITZ: I had a difficult time from 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City where I was expected to win a lot of gold medals. And if I just look at my performance of winning two gold, a silver and a bronze, I mean that is pretty remarkable. But the problem was, is that I didn't win a gold medal in two events I held a world record in.
Matter of fact, in one of them, I got a silver medal. And it cost me a place on a relay. And the other one, I qualified first in the prelims and got dead last. And wouldn't you know it, it was the first event in the Olympic Games in the 200-meter butterfly that I would have to swim in Munich. So there was a guy named Doug Russell that beat me. And that was just the reason that I basically had this fire in my system to be able to want to actually go for another four years. And I found it kind of difficult to work out and train. But I had a focus and the focus was to do the best I could. And over the course of what I learned was a mistake of not being able to swim all those events in one particular competition, I started to do that.
And the year before, in Houston, Texas, I won the four individual events, broke three world records and got the Sullivan Award, which was the best athlete as an amateur in America. So I realized that I had the capacity to be able to accomplish this at least in theory, on paper. And then thank goodness my coach has encouraged me and I went forward and I was successful.
MORGAN: When you're standing there having won the seventh consecutive gold, putting you into a Pantheon of Olympians, in very rare small number, and playing the anthem for the seventh time, what is that emotion like?
SPITZ: I was so happy it was over.
MORGAN: It must have been exhausting, wasn't it?
SPITZ: It really was because -- the program started on a Monday and continued on through the following Monday. So over an eight-day period of time, I swam every single day but Friday. And so I was in the water 13 different times. We had the prelims, the semifinals and what have you. And each day that I swam and I won a gold medal, it was like one brick shy of a load getting off of the cart. And so therefore I felt that I was actually having a better go of it.
But I was exhausted by the time it came to my last individual event, the 100-meter freestyle. And I have to say that the last stroke that I took at the Olympic Games, I don't think I could have taken another stroke. I was 100 percent up until the last stroke, and I literally had one drop of gas in my tank at the end of that. So thank goodness it ended.
MORGAN: What does it take to be a true Olympic champion do you think? What are the qualities that anybody needs to get there?
SPITZ: I think a coach. I mean, and the support of your family and a good system. Being in a program where there's a lot of great athletes is a very enlightening thing. My family moved me from one town to Santa Clara, California, where I was coached with this guy named George Haynes who --
MORGAN: Because you were a natural, were you? Your family said that even as a young kid, you ran into the sea to swim. Like a kind of maniac, is that right?
SPITZ: Well, I didn't run into the sea with the thought that I was going to have to swim 26,000 miles and have a 14-year career and then -- (LAUGHTER)
SPITZ: You know, become a seven-gold medal winner.
MORGAN: Is that how many miles you swam?
SPITZ: I kind of calculated that out. But there were a lot people that swam the same amount that I did. You know, what made me a champion --
MORGAN: What made you different?
SPITZ: I hated the idea of losing. I built just one day at a time. I became a world record holder in the 400-meter freestyle which most people don't know was my first world record. I swam with a guy named Don Schollander, that was my inspiration on the team. And I broke his world record.
MORGAN: You broke 33 world records, is that right?
SPITZ: Yes, I actually broke two world records that from a technicality should have been counted. Because they were done in the same day by the same person, I didn't get recognized in the order chronologically of breaking it. So if I broke it in the prelims and then I went a little faster in the finals it only counted the final time and not the first time.
MORGAN: So you should have 35 world records?
SPITZ: Yes. But who's counting?
MORGAN: You are. And that's what makes you clearly the edge. That's the edge, isn't it? It's that kind of mind that says, I may have won 33, but it should have been 35. It still rankles with you.
SPITZ: I don't know. I walked off a plane in -- was it Australia, and it was 2000 for the Olympics Games there. And I was in a press conference and somebody says, well, what has been the greatest journey of your athletic career? And I said, well, how about winning for seven gold medals. He said, no, I don't think that was. And so I'm, OK, what was it? And everybody was sort of silent.
And he said, well, what I did was I analyzed swimming sort of like baseball statistics. From the very first world record you ever have, not counting prelims and semifinals, just the time you were in the finals, and you have to take your collegiate and your -- what they call short course program away because that was in a 25-yard pool so you couldn't break a world record.
Just long course swimming, 50-meter pools, you can break a world record. You swam approximately 35 -- 75 times. And you had basically 33 or 35 world records. So almost 50 percent of the time, you actually broke a world record. But more importantly, the last two years of my career, I swam 20 times, and I broke a world record 19 of those times.
SPITZ: So my competitors obviously knew that. So -- that helped me. So each day that I want to go medal, my competitors at the Olympic Games were second-guessing whether or not they trained, rested enough, and whether or not the room was quiet enough and the food was good at the Olympic Village. Here they watching Mark Spitz time and tine again become successful. And that's the reason I think that Michael Phelps has been so successful because he uses that success one day after another.
That's quite arduous to be able to get to that level of training and the psyche that you need to put on yourself to win on a daily basis. But it really helps if you're multitalented to be able to use that moving forward.
MORGAN: Let's take a short break and come back and talk about Michael Phelps because I sat down with him for an hour recently and I found him a fascinating guy. Not least of which because having met you know I see a lot of similarities. Let's explore those.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL PHELPS, OLYMPIC CHAMPION: First of all, I mean, records are always made to be broken. No matter what they are. Anybody can do anything they set their mind to. You know, I said it all along, I want to be the first Michael Phelps, not the second Mark Spitz.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Michael Phelps from 2008 in Beijing, talking about Mark Spitz who's back with me now.
How did you feel about that? He doesn't want to be the second Mark Spitz. He wants to be the first Michael Phelps.
SPITZ: You know, we saw Michael come on the scene actually four years before in Athens at the Olympics Games there where he attempted to swim at eight different events and he came away with six gold medals and two bronze medals. So I knew that he had the capacity to be able to attempt to break my record. And I just knew that it was just a matter of time. And if he just stayed healthy for the next four years, we obviously saw what he was able to do in Beijing.
I actually felt a tremendous relief. I mean, records -- you heard the cliche, that records are made to be broken. Then why should my be -- my records be exclusive, that you can't break my records? And it was just a matter of time that somebody would come along.
Listen, I inspired somebody not even born to try to achieve a goal for himself, primarily, which is Michael's goal, not Mark Spitz's goal, to do the best that he could. And in the process, my record got broken. Well, why wouldn't I be proud? My accolade to the sport was left on the fact that he was able to do that. And I felt really great about it.
MORGAN: When I interviewed him, I -- he's -- part from being physically very impressive, he had an aura about him of invincibility. It was a guy who just knew he was head and shoulders -- in fact, in his case, massive wingspan shoulders, above everybody else. And he had that aura and swagger. You have that, too. Do you recognize that in a true champion?
SPITZ: I think what a true champion has is the ability to be able to know his competitors. And everything about his competition. And then try to make one or two less mistakes than those he competes against. And on a regular basis that they do that, quantitatively saying is that that he may have only been 4 or 5 percent better than anybody, but since it was always 4 or 5 percent better than anybody, the illusion was he was so grand, and that's what makes a great champion.
And that they're able to repeat that time and again. Regardless of the conditions. Because not every time you come to a swimming pool do you feel great, or if you're in track and field, not every time you hit that track you feel good. Or in boxing, I knew Mohammed Ali. We talked a lot about -- there were a lot of times that he felt terrible. But he knew he had to rise to the occasion. And they did.
MORGAN: You and Michael Phelps, no goggles, wear a cap if you want, I know you didn't. So the old-fashioned way. Right now, the peak of both your powers. Who would win?
SPITZ: I've been asked that question before.
MORGAN: Have you ever honestly answered it?
SPITZ: And I've -- I've answered it the honest way. Based on what I've just previously said. If I was great because I knew everything I needed to know to beat that other person, then I would have to know everything that would be necessary to beat Michael. And likewise, he would have to know everything to beat me. So the answer is, we'd have to tie. However there was a --
MORGAN: You would be tied.
SPITZ: Wait, wait. But there's a caveat to that. Somebody else who actually had posed that question said, yes, but you won by greater margins so therefore you knew how to beat your competition by greater margins. Well, I'd like to say, you know, selfishly maybe I might beat him so I would have to say relentlessly, yes, of course, I would want to beat him. And it wouldn't matter whether I had a cap on or a fur coat, as long as we all had the same.
MORGAN: See, I just couldn't imagine you looking me in the eye and saying anything different. Of course you think you'd beat him. And he, I suspect, if he's honest, would say he'd beat you. And that's what makes the pair of you such huge Olympians.
SPITZ: Well, I think that when I look back, that obviously you've posed the question that's never going to happen. The reality is that some day there'll be another Michael Phelps who will say the same things that Michael said which is that, you know, I just want to be myself. But the benchmark of who they are and the watershed is really to identify trying to implement and emulate that person to the best you can.
SPITZ: (INAUDIBLE) for yourself.
MORGAN: Do you get -- do you get along? Are you friends?
SPITZ: I haven't talked to him that much. In the environment I've actually met him is actually handing him an award. The first time I actually met him was when he qualified to swim at the Olympic Games for Athens. And I whispered something in his ear. And the press really said, well, what did you say? I said, well, sort of private. Eventually they sort of pulled it out of me.
And what I said to him was, I know you can do this. Just stop listening to the press but give them all the time they want.
MORGAN: What do you make of all the drug abuse in sport? Particularly athletics and Olympians? You see the great champions toppling down like dominos. Caught cheating. What do you think of it?
SPITZ: I think the International Olympic Committee has done a great job of trying to police, you know, drugs. They were the first to do it back in 1968, Olympic Games in Mexico City. And they -- they're not perfect. They try to get as best they can all the offenders. But I think there's a little bit of design to let the best fall through the cracks. They list all of the performance enhancing drugs, about six to nine months ahead of time, so that those athletes who get a whiff -- you know, if you're on this stuff, don't take it anymore.
But then that gives a drug buffet of everything else that's out there to be taken that they knowingly won't be tested for. And so the old school drugs seem to make the list first before the new school drugs. And drug companies do not make performance-enhancing drugs. This is all off-label usage that has been discovered and experimented from the communist coaches that were back in the '80s and '90s.
And so you have to say to yourself, if it's only going to improve my performance by 8 or 9 percent max and I'm not getting a gold medal, why am I wasting my time doing this? It's a waste.
MORGAN: Is there a simple answer to drug abuse in sport that you just ban the cheats for life?
SPITZ: The question is if the penalty is great enough to where you're out of a sport for four years, the odds are you're not going to get that second chance because that's almost a lifetime in sports at that elite level. So the craziness of the rules is such that most people don't actually know what the rules are. But I remember there was an incident, the World Swimming Championships back in 1999 in Perth, Australia, and there was somebody from China that brought in human growth hormone.
And to take human growth hormone the penalty was four years. But they also had the masking drug. And the masking drug's penalty was basically two years which superseded the actual four-year penalty, which meant that if you cheated the cheat, instead of having a four- year penalty, you only had a two-year penalty, what brain trust at the IOC figured that out?
MORGAN: That's ridiculous.
SPITZ: That is ridiculous. And since the Chinese brought the drug in, less than two years prior to the Olympic Games in Sydney, they altered the rule to make it a six-year -- a six-month penalty so that at least the Chinese could then go ahead and compete in the Olympic Games. So there is sort of a twisting of the rules.
MORGAN: See, if I was running it, I'd be quite straightforward. I would test every single athlete after every single event. Anybody found guilty, that's it for life. Trust me, within two years, there would be no more cheats.
SPITZ: Well, they do test every single athlete that gets a first, second and third place and one at random. But that's for the drugs that are on that list. If the drug is not on that list, there's no way they're going to find them.
MORGAN: It's a sad, sad, I think. Sad that it's so prevalent.
Take another break. Let's come back to on a very, very sad event. Just back at Munich, your great, great year at the Olympics, was this dreadful incident involving the murder of Israeli athletes. I want to talk to you about your memories of that after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM MCKAY, ABC NEWS: They've now said that there were 11 hostages, two were killed in their rooms this -- yesterday morning. Nine were killed at the airport tonight. They're all gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: A moment seared into Olympic history. ABC's Jim McKay announcing the Israelis taken hostage at the Munich games. All dead. The massacre stunned the world. But after the tragedy the Olympics went on. Swimming great Mark Spitz won seven gold medals at that Olympics. And he's back with me now.
Mark, you're Jewish. A shattering event. What are your memories of it?
SPITZ: Well, for me and the whole swimming community, swimming was over before this happened. We finished on the evening of Monday and this happened into the early hours, as we know, into Tuesday. I had gone out with a gentleman by the name -- two gentlemen, Heinz Kluetmeier who was a photographer for "Sports Illustrated." Still is a photographer. I was -- he created two covers on "Sports Illustrated" for me. And a guy named Jerry Kirshenbaum who wrote a bunch of articles for me for "Sports Illustrated." Became, I believe, the editor of "TIME" magazine later on.
They took me to dinner. We had a great time. Everybody was cheering. Wanted to throw me drinks. I don't drink. You know, at the restaurant that evening. And then at 9:00 in the morning, I woke up and went to the press conference. And they were the first to greet me at the -- at the fan with the IOC officials and the swim coaches from America. And they said, did you hear what happened? I go, well, I don't know anything. What happened? Was I -- was with you last night. I don't know anything.
They go, well, there's about 1500 press people in this room and there's been a lockdown. We don't know what's going on. Supposedly, there's some activities, there are terrorist activities there in the village. And they had these high-powered zoom lenses in the press center right next to the village. And we saw for the first time that athlete come out with that hat on, talking to what appeared to be a hostess.
But the hostess was really actually a crisis negotiator. And we had no sound. So we didn't know what was going on. I was like, whoa, you know, this is like wow, happening almost like in slow motion.
I went back in with, now, police to get back into the village. And then the chancellor of Germany was in my room, saying everything is fine, we're going to take care of you, and then I was ushered out --
SPITZ: This was at about 10:30 in the morning. By 5:00 I was ushered out -- this was complex. The village was on top of a subterranean garage, went down into a car, was -- had an army blanket put over my head, drove out of the village so nobody knew that I was in the car, taken to actual municipal airport and flew to London.
MORGAN: Had you been identified as a potential target?
SPITZ: You know that's a great question. I don't think so, because here, obviously, they must have had this well-planned years in advance, or months in advance. Here I was a Jewish athlete, I was an American. I was winning all these gold medals. Everybody knew where I was. So if they had a change of heart and a plan, they could have immediately just come to my room instead of the compound where the Israelis were staying. So I didn't really feel that I was in the crosshairs.
MORGAN: Awful day, though.
SPITZ: It was terrible. I mean, you know, the Olympic Games today is modeled based on the security not only for the athletes, but for the press, the media, the spectators, and the citizens of a host city. And the International Olympic Committee has done a great job over the years to protect everybody. But it's totally different. Here I became a real gigantic event as a sports celebrity winning seven gold medals.
Then it became a news event. And then all of a sudden it became a tragedy. And then it became elevated at a much higher level, and we're talking about it right now, 40 years later.
MORGAN: Quite extraordinary. As London approaches, a lot of American athletes, you know, competing, about to compete and so on. What is it like to represent America as an athlete?
SPITZ: Well, you know, I just watched the Olympic trials recently with my son, and we noticed that in swimming, we only take two per event, and the third place person that got left home had the third fastest time in the world, that had he been brought, he might have been winning a medal. So it's quite a big honor to represent the United States in your sport. For your sport. There's a lot of training that goes behind, you know, getting to that level. A lot of pressure. But the reward is standing, you know, on the award stand. You know, just watching it. All just unfold your success. And, you know, that's why you see people cry.
MORGAN: Because when they -- when they play the anthem.
MORGAN: And all the work is suddenly worth it -- I can see even now, you're emotional about it.
SPITZ: It's kind of strange because I didn't have an opportunity to enjoy any of it. So to me I was on a mission. I just didn't have any time to reflect whatsoever.
MORGAN: Do you -- do you swim these days?
SPITZ: I try to swim a couple of days a week. I walk for about 45 minutes to an hour to try to stay in shape and clothes are very revealing.
MORGAN: You're looking great, I have to say.
SPITZ: Well, you know.
MORGAN: How old are you now?
SPITZ: I'm 62.
SPITZ: You know?
MORGAN: Unfortunately, you look better than me.
SPITZ: I don't think so.
MORGAN: I try and swim, but I don't think I go at quite the same speed you do. Do you time yourself?
SPITZ: That would be a big mistake. That would be a big mistake.
MORGAN: Where do you swim? I'm fascinated by this.
SPITZ: Well, there's a master swim program at UCLA here in Los Angeles. And there's a bunch of guys that -- used to be swimmers, competitive swimmers, and a bunch of people that never really had a chance that would believe that they'd like to be a competitive swimmer and there's masters programs all over the world.
A matter of fact, I went back to Munich a number of years ago, I guess, it was about six or seven years ago, they had the World Master Swim Championships. It was a meet where they had about almost 12,000 athletes, timed event only. It's like -- it's like carpet. I mean it's this -- it's like watching fruit getting processed in a mill. These like these swimmers kept going off and off and off. As a matter of fact, in some events, they had actually started the race before the last person got out at the other end.
And -- but there was such excitement and enthusiasm. So I believe that sports is really great, you know? And I think that there can be self-expression --
MORGAN: When you get in the pool at these -- at these masters, you still want to kill them, right? Be honest.
SPITZ: You know, I'll tell you a funny story --
MORGAN: Do you ever lose?
SPITZ: I get in a slow lane so I can win, how's that for answer?
MORGAN: Have you lost a swimming race in the last 30 years?
SPITZ: Not really.
SPITZ: Not really.
MORGAN: Mark Spitz, it's been a real pleasure. Thank you very much.
SPITZ: Well, thank you.
MORGAN: Coming up, a preview of a quite extraordinary interview with actor Robert Blake. It is without a doubt the most outrageous, controversial, explosive interview that I've ever conducted.
MORGAN: We'll end tonight's show with a preview of my exclusive interview tomorrow night with actor Robert Blake. It was the most extraordinary controversial, outrageous interview I've ever been involved with.
Blake, a Hollywood legend, a great actor, who's acquitted of killing his wife, but then found liable in a civil action brought by her family. The interview was full of emotion. He laughs one moment, he erupts in rage the next. He sounds completely unhinged at times, at other times seeringly honest. It's a really remarkable encounter. Here's some of the explosive conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT BLAKE, ACTOR: My father hates me because in his heart he knows that I'm his brother's kid. They tried to get rid of me and they couldn't.
MORGAN: Did they ever tell you that they loved you, your parents?
BLAKE: Never. They didn't even talk to me. I was like a -- you know, they paid more attention to a dog than they paid to me.
Well, tell me where I'm lying? Because if you don't know I'm telling you the truth then you must have a little scratch in the back of your head about where I'm lying. Tell me where I'm lying?
MORGAN: No, I'm not saying you're lying.
BLAKE: But you're saying you don't know if I'm telling the truth. What the hell is the difference?
MORGAN: I'm saying I've met you for, what, 20 minutes?
BLAKE: I don't care about that. You put me on the stand. I'm telling the truth.
MORGAN: I didn't put you on the stand.
BLAKE: But you're saying you're scratching the head.
MORGAN: Why are you being so defensive?
BLAKE: I'll ask you another question, Mr. Research. How come I was arrested for murder? And I stayed arrested for four years. One in a cement box and three in my front room where I couldn't leave because I was still under arrest. A fellow named Specter was arrested for an hour in one home and was a free man for four years, then he was found guilty and he's in San Quentin. You got any idea why? Why I was under arrest for four years and he was under arrest for an hour, Mr. Research?
MORGAN: No, I don't.
BLAKE: Well, why the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) don't you look it up before we start talking about it?
You're just like the cops. There's no place to get. Keep him in jail until he dies because everybody who's dead is guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: You can see the full sensational interview of Robert Blake tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. That's all for us. "AC 360" starts now.