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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Lance Armstrong Comes Clean; Going Back to Congress; Guns in America

Aired January 17, 2013 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK SANFORD (R), FORMER GOVERNOR, SOUTH CAROLINA: With a -- what started out as a dear, dear friend from Argentina.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: My interview with Mark Sanford on his road back from punchline to politics.

Also, guns in America. The issue is not going away. I'll talk to the Connecticut senator who says this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact is that the NRA does not represent gun owners anymore. This is not your father's NRA.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And the irrepressible Hoda Kotb.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HODA KOTB, CO-HOST, THE TODAY SHOW: We're giving up alcohol on the show.

(LAUGHTER)

It's a tough hour to get through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: Good evening. We begin with the big breaking news tonight. If you're Lance Armstrong, this is the moment you spent years and millions of dollars trying to avoid. The moment you finally admit to the world that yes, you cheated, you doped, and you cheated and you doped.

It's a sorry -- pathetical spectacle, frankly, for the seven-time Tour de France winner and it's all being played out live in the spotlight as Armstrong tells his tales to Oprah Winfrey on OWN and what's being built as a tearful confessional.

We're watching that interview. With us right now is Christine Brennan, a sports columnist for "USA Today," also joining me is Buzz Bissinger of "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast." He wrote "Newsweek's" September's cover story, "I Still Believe in Lance Armstrong." Plus Rick French, an expert in reputation management. He represented Michael Vick. And Page Pate, the criminal defense and constitutional attorney.

A little later, I'll also talk to a man who knows the toll of a different kind of cheating. Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. He's back and he's here.

But we begin with Lance Armstrong. And I'm going to start with you, Buzz Bissinger. This must break your heart like --

(CROSSTALK)

BUZZ BISSINGER, CONTRIBUTOR, NEWSWEEK AND DAILY BEAST: Yes, cover on "Newsweek"

MORGAN: I remember when you wrote this because it was at a time when many people were turning on Lance Armstrong. I admired your loyalty, frankly, as somebody who clearly wanted to believe in him, wanted to believe him, because he had said to you himself, repeatedly, I never doped. I'm told that you've exchanged e-mails with him in the last week. Tell me about that.

BISSINGER: Well, you know, I wrote a column at "The Daily Beast" on Monday, basically, finally -- and I probably should have done it sooner, repudiating this cover story, which I really sort of swallowed it hook and line and sinker. Lance e-mailed me yesterday and said, look, I F'd up, I want to apologize. I'm really, really sorry for sending you down this road.

You know, I think it was heartfelt. I didn't respond. I don't think there's anything to respond to. I still wonder, is he playing me? I think he did the same with Rick Reilly of ESPN. Is this part of --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: I've got to stop you. We have got breaking news.

BISSINGER: Sure.

MORGAN: Lance Armstrong has just confessed for the first time in public to Oprah Winfrey, I took banned substances. It was EPO, which is one of the banned substances. He's confessed that from his own lips for the first time. It's a momentous moment. Just got some more revelations. He's saying that he doped, he used blood transfusions. It sounds like a pretty broad of wide ranging confession of, frankly, all the things that many journalists around the world, including many from my country in Britain, David Walsh, "The Sunday Times" and others, who were sued and sued very expensively by Lance Armstrong. Well, they're vindicated tonight because he lied the entire time to them, to you, to others.

It's a pretty shameful moment, isn't it, for him?

BISSINGER: Well, I think it's incredibly shameful, but I think you're hitting on the things that I don't think he can ever take back, which is he went through the lengths, not simply of lying, but the litigiousness of suing the "London Times" for defamation, very expensive, winning a $500,000 judgment.

MORGAN: Yes.

BISSINGER: When he knows all along, they're telling the truth. I just think it's a little late, way, way in the game. His behavior towards people, his litigiousness, coercing teammates, describing a former employee as being a prostitute. I just don't think any of that stuff, you know, can be -- can be taken back. And I want to watch the clip and I guess I want to see sort of you know --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Well, it's happening, it unfurling as we're talking.

BISSINGER: Sure. Sure.

MORGAN: We're watching it all over the place, obviously.

BISSINGER: Right.

MORGAN: He's apparently now conceding he probably wouldn't have won the seven Tour de Frances without the doping that was going on.

BISSINGER: Right.

MORGAN: The cortisone and he's giving more details by the minute to Oprah Winfrey. It sounds like a full and frank proper confession. The reason he's doing it, many believe, is that he wants to compete again on some level of international sports. I don't see any way that he can do that, do you?

BISSINGER: Well, I mean, I've read that they might consider reinstating him in eight years. He would be 49 years old. This would be to compete not in cycling but the Ironmen competitions and triathlons. I think he's desperate to compete. Frankly, I think he's desperate about his reputation, Piers, because I think he's worried about money.

MORGAN: But he has no reputation left. This is a man who didn't just deny things. This is a man who was proactive in his denial and who, as we've just discussed, went after journalists, bullied them, sued them, won money, and I think it's worse than that, I think it's more cynical. I think the whole construct of his Livestrong charity, I now believe, was meant designed to protect him from exposure to doping. And I think that it earned him on the back of all the money that he raised for charity, he made himself very rich on the process, too, out of his Saint Lance image. I'm clean, I never doped. The others may have done, I never did. And I beat cancer because I'm a tough, heroic guy.

Well, he's not. He may have beaten cancer. Many people do, but they're not cheats and they don't make money out of that kind of reputation. That reputation tonight is gone.

BISSINGER: That reputation is gone, and I think what you're saying, as I think about it, I think it makes a lot of sense. Although Livestrong did a lot of good, it was yet another layer of insulation, another way of cementing this image. I am a saint. I started a foundation, I beat cancer. Would I actually be cheating if I was suing the "London Times," if I was trying to pop publication, the book in the United States that was written in France? No.

The more I say no and the stronger I say it, the more people are going to believe that, come on, he's Lance, and he passed 500 drug tests. And he didn't do it.

(CROSSTALK)

And just like I said in the story.

MORGAN: Given the scale of his betrayal to you personally, will you ever talk to him again?

BISSINGER: No. I mean, like, no. I mean, there's -- you know, there's no point. I don't -- I don't bear any malice.

MORGAN: Don't you? God, I would.

BISSINGER: Not really -- you know, Piers, I don't. At the end of the day, I'm a seasoned journalist. I'm an investigative reporter. I should know better. I knew that I -- when he suddenly said he was dropping his fight against the USADA, the United States Anti-Doping Agency, there was something about it that didn't make sense. You don't fight for 10 years and then drop it.

But why would I ever believe anything he says to me or anyone?

MORGAN: Let me -- let me update you as they're coming to this now. Lance Armstrong has now confessed in his own words, from his own lips, on national television, to Oprah Winfrey, that he doped, that he cheated, and therefore that he lied to the entire world about the real reason he was able to be a champion cyclist.

And the confession is ongoing, it's apparently emotional, it's detailed. He took a number of banned substances and concedes he would never have won any of the Tour de Frances if he hadn't taken them. So it's cheating at the very highest and worst form, if you like.

Now let's go now to Rich French. He's the chairman and CEO of French/West/Vaughan, a leading expert in reputational management. You represented Michael Vick, who I've interviewed, and it was a very powerful interview at the time.

In Lance Armstrong's case, the scale of deception is so great, the scale of lying is so great, the scale of the treachery to so many people is so great, and add to that, the bullying and the nastiness and the suing. Is there any way back for Lance Armstrong?

RICK FRENCH, CHAIRMAN, CEO OF FRENCH/WEST/VAUGHAN: Well, Piers, if he thought the climb up the Pyrenees was difficult, he's going to find the climb to regain his reputation is even worse. In reality, we love to tear our heroes down. It happens, you know, quite frequently when someone, you know, gets to a point -- you look at the Tiger Woods situation or Barry Bonds or many other athletes.

But the problem that Lance has is very simple. In Michael Vick's case, if you use him as an example, Mike had the ability to get back on the field and show that he could still be an elite athlete, and he also became an advocate for --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Rick, if I could -- if I could just interrupt you there. We have got breaking video now of Lance Armstrong confessing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "OPRAH'S NEXT CHAPTER": Yes or no, did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?

LANCE ARMSTRONG, CYCLIST: Yes.

WINFREY: Yes or no, was one of those banned substances EPO?

ARMSTRONG: Yes.

WINFREY: Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance?

ARMSTRONG: Yes.

WINFREY: Did you ever use any other banned substances like testosterone, cortisone, or human growth hormone?

ARMSTRONG: Yes.

WINFREY: Yes or no, in all seven of your Tour de France victories, did you ever take banned substances or blood dope?

ARMSTRONG: Yes.

WINFREY: In your opinion, was it humanly possible to win the Tour de France without doping? Seven times in a row?

ARMSTRONG: Not in my opinion.

WINFREY: So when did you first start doping?

ARMSTRONG: We're done with the yes and nos?

WINFREY: We're done with the yes and nos.

ARMSTRONG: You know, I suppose earlier in my career, there was cortisone and then the EPO generation began. And --

WINFREY: Began when?

ARMSTRONG: For me or for --

WINFREY: For you?

ARMSTRONG: Mid-'90s.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Armstrong's stunning confession tonight. There' no other way to describe that. That was one of the biggest mea culpa U- turns I have ever seen in the history of sport. And you're talking about a man who when he won seven Tour de Frances was one of the greatest champions in American sporting history now confessing he'd never have won any of them if he hadn't been a cheat and doped himself up with all sorts of illegal substances.

Buzz Bissinger, pretty sensational revelations there.

BISSINGER: Well, I mean, sensational revelations. I think as we all know no one is really, you know, shocked by them. At least he was, you know, somewhat forthcoming. What I do want to hear more about is his justification for lying literally up to the final moment.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: You said no one was shocked, I mean, we've discussed the piece you wrote. "I Still Believe in Lance Armstrong."

BISSINGER: Right.

MORGAN: Many, many people, because I was attacking him on Twitter most of the last year.

BISSINGER: Right.

MORGAN: And the response I was getting was extraordinary. So many people didn't want to believe that Lance Armstrong was a cheat and were telling me, you are wrong. He will prove you wrong. He will sue you and it was threatening. It was menacing and it was widespread. Around the world. Not just in America.

People will be shock because that is a series of confessions there which destroy every denial he's ever made about any of it.

BISSINGER: I think when the allegations when the case sort of became public from the USADA, the 1,000 pages of documents that showed not just the blood doping, the coercion, the lengths at which he went, the most sophisticated system ever enacted of avoiding detection or testing.

Obviously that's when -- that's when it turned for me. I know judging from the -- you know, the e-mail I got to the recent comments in "The Daily Beast" saying I can't believe a word Lance said. You know, there were -- there were some -- there were very few who said you're wrong. There are still -- there are many who said --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Let me go to Christine Brennan who's been watching this and I would imagine watching it with the same kind of shock that everybody has been watching this.

Christine, what is your take on the scale of his confession tonight?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Wow, that was a wild minute of television, wasn't it? The yes, yes, yes. This man lied with ease, Piers, for over a decade, and he came clean, if we want to call it coming clean, I guess it's coming clean, if we can believe this now. With that same kind of ease. Ruthless.

(LAUGHTER)

You almost wonder if he has a heart or a soul to be able to completely do a 180 so quickly on something that he has stood by forever. That was breathtaking.

MORGAN: And a certain glibness at the end there, are we done with the yes and nos? Even then trying to control things, trying to be the Lance Armstrong of old. You know, I would have said to him, you know what, Lance, we're not done with the yes and nos. There's much more to ask you because you've just made a series of confessions in the last minute, as you say, of some spellbinding audacity.

The fact that this man for a decade or more has just peddled absolute lies to everybody and done it in an aggressive, bullying manner.

I mean, Christine, is -- in the Pantheon of sporting cheats, has anybody come close to Lance Armstrong?

BRENNAN: No, he's it. He's number one. He's -- you know, we can retire the gold medal for cheating. He has -- and I don't mean to be making fun of it or joking about it. It's very serious stuff. He is the worst fraud in the history of sports.

MORGAN: Yes.

BRENNAN: And he just showed it.

MORGAN: Yes.

BRENNAN: He just showed it. I mean, for someone to be able to turn so quickly, and you're right, Piers, about the glibness. Are we done with the -- you know, the one-word answers. You know this isn't funny, and yet he seems to think it's all sport, it's all a game. Fascinating.

MORGAN: Yes, I think he still wants the control and still thinks he can wriggle out of this and make a comeback.

Well, you're not going to be able to, Lance Armstrong. This is -- it's actually too bad for that.

Let me turn to Page Pate, a criminal defense, constitutional attorney.

There must be a lot of legal ramifications here. His lawyers have allowed him to do this, but just hearing those ramifications, knowing what I do about the lawsuits against British newspapers and so on, surely, he's going to be facing a battery of lawsuits, isn't he?

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE, CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY: Absolutely, Piers. And let's start with the fact, I don't think this is a change of heart for Lance Armstrong. I also don't think it's about competition. I think the timing of this confession indicates that there's the possibility of a settlement with the Justice Department in the whistleblower lawsuit that is pending against him. And that's just one of several lawsuits he's going to have to face and he may have to face that one very, very soon.

MORGAN: Could he go to jail for perjury, for any of these confessions now?

PATE: Well, it's not quite that simple. Had he made a false statement to one of the investigators during the course of the criminal investigation, then yes. But I don't think he personally made any statements to any investigator. However, if he attempted to influence a witness, obstruct justice in some way during the investigation, tell someone not to talk or try to change their testimony, then absolutely. But I think part of his confession now is a settlement with the Justice Department, not only of the pending whistleblower claim against him to try to get some of that money back to the Postal Service, but also to head off a possible resurrection of the criminal investigation. And this is the only way to do it.

MORGAN: But he's apparently just said that he wasn't afraid of being caught, which in itself is utterly brazen. Why would you go so far to bully, coerce, and threaten people and sue people if you weren't afraid of being caught?

Lance Armstrong, tonight you got found out and you got found out big time.

Thank you to all my guests. And we'll be back with more updates on this in a live midnight address about Lance Armstrong. It's a pretty terrible day for sport around the world and shocking is the only word you can use.

Lance Armstrong, a full confession.

When we come back, I'll talk to somebody who's been through the mincer of being exposed as a cheat in a very different circumstances. We'll listen to his take on Lance Armstrong and also about his comeback now in political life. And that is Mark Sanford.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: If you're joining us now, the sensational breaking news tonight. Lance Armstrong's finally, a long awaited TV confession. He's talking to Oprah Winfrey on the OWN channel. The headline so far he admits taking EPO, he admits using substances like cortisone and HGH. He said he wouldn't have won without doping. He admits using banned substances in the Tour de France. Plus the most shockingly of all, says he wasn't afraid of getting caught.

Well, it's all out there now, Lance Armstrong is the biggest cheat in history of sport and shame on him.

I want to bring somebody who has his own very public confession, former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, admitting to an affair and found himself a bit of a political punchline. But now the former governor of South Carolina is making a comeback and running again for Congress, and he joins me now exclusively.

Mark, thank you for joining me and before you get too nervous, I'm not in any way linking what happened to you with the kind of grotesque confessions spilling out of Lance Armstrong's mouth. But I have to ask you, as somebody who's been through, the mincer of, I guess, getting caught, doing something you shouldn't have been and all the public abuse that comes your way and the downfall and so on. What do you feel for Lance Armstrong tonight on that level?

SANFORD: I feel bad for him. You know, it's a remarkable storm that he's about to go through. I suspect he'll go through the depths of a personal journey that maybe will bring him to a humbler spot and a spot where he recognizes the grace and the giving of others and maybe appreciates it for the first time.

MORGAN: Well, what did you learn about yourself? Because I have interviewed you before and it was a very moving interview. You were very honest and it seemed to me you were a changed man in many ways. What was the sort of overriding thing you learned about yourself that perhaps made you a better man?

SANFORD: Well, what you have publicly displayed in this instance, is you aren't as good as you think you are and you're not as good as you act. And yet what you learn in the wake of that is ultimately our brokenness as human beings is our connection. Because if I pretend to be up on one pedestal while you pretend to be up on another, ultimately we're not really relating as human beings. And it's only really in our brokenness that we really begin to understand each other, have real empathy for each other, and begin to have a real conversation about how is it that we move forward on this journey called life.

MORGAN: You're having another go now at Congress, and many people feel good about that. I have to say the reaction has been very positive, and certainly when I interviewed you before, I thought you were genuinely contrite and that it was a personal failing more than anything else which you've readily admitted to, but a failing in the sense that on the other side of it, you're still with the woman that was at the center of the scandal.

You're very happy. You're engaged to be married. And this has now led you, I think, to a position where you believe you can run again for office.

Do you think that the electorate, when they face the task of possibly re-electing you, will forgive you? Do you expect widespread forgiveness?

SANFORD: Well, I mean, that's up for each individual to decide. But what I do know is two things. One is there's an amazing reservoir of human grace out there. There's a reservoir of god's grace that each of us have to excess ourselves as best we can. And what I have come to learn and I think this is perspective on all of these events is that, you know, a lot of people said, look, Mark, I'm not going to judge you on your worst day any more than I judge you on your best day.

And what I'm going to do is take a look at the totality of where you came from for 20 years of politics and where you've come from as a member of our community here for 52 years and I'm going to make judgments accordingly. And I think that that's all that any of us can ask. And so forgiveness really is in the hands of the other. I think it's incumbent upon each of us to make that decision for ourselves.

MORGAN: You're fighting in an old stomping ground of yours. South Carolina's first congressional district. It's a seat vacated by Tim Scott, who was appointed to the Senate last year by Governor Nikki Haley. And it's going to be a bit of a tough battle. You've got some good competition down there. You've got State Senator Larry Grooms, you've got State Representative Chip Limehouse, and you've got Teddy Turner's son of -- CNN's founder, Ted Turner. So it's not going to be easy.

Why do you want to come back to Congress? What do you see is missing that perhaps you can fill in terms of a gap?

SANFORD: A buddy of mine from down in Beaufort I think summed it incredibly really well. Tom Davis and I went to college together. He's now a state senator from down that way. And he called me and said, you know, Mark, you've really got to do this. You know, you were talking about debt and deficit and government spending 15, 20 years ago when nobody was that much focused on it in Washington, but now they really are.

And here's a chance for you to take all that you've learned, what you've learned on the way up, and what you've learned on the way down, what you learned in Congress, what you learned in the governorship, and apply it to what is really the debate of our times. Because if you look, you know, we're having a new fiscal crisis it seems every couple of months. We had the debt ceiling debate this summer, we had fiscal crisis, we got another debt ceiling debate coming up.

And that's really the tip of the icebergs that are coming our way based on unbelievable demographics and -- unbelievably unsustainable government spending. And so what I want to do is take what I've learned and hopefully apply it to again a great conundrum that now exists in Washington, which is how do we get our financial house in order?

MORGAN: Well, Mark Sanford, I wish you all the very best. Thank you for joining me again tonight. It's a pleasure to talk to you as it was last time. And I genuinely wish you well. I'm glad that you're making another go at this. And I think that Congress have missed people like you. So good luck with it.

SANFORD: I appreciate it, thanks.

MORGAN: Mark Sanford.

And coming up, the senator who says that Newtown changed everything, but the NRA doesn't get it, and the gun advocate who says America doesn't have a gun problem. They just have a values problem.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Today, President Obama is pushing forward with his sweeping gun plans, vowing to make it a reality. The White House knows it will be a very tough fight.

My next guess, he's Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy.

Welcome to you, Senator. And I spoke to your colleague last night. And there is a sense that, although many senators and congressmen and women are determined to try and help the president get his way, there are an equally large number of Democratic senators and a lot of Republicans in the Congress who just simply won't wear because they're worried about the NRA coming after them and driving them out of office. What do we do about that?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, listen, I think the NRA is in a fundamentally different position than they were just 35 days ago. They don't have a grip on Congress like they did. And you've seen it. You've seen, you know, Democratic senators come out and say that they're willing to look at assault weapons ban. You've seen Republicans in the House of Representatives from places like Georgia say that they'll look at background checks and bans on high- capacity ammunition clips.

And listen, nobody should be afraid of the NRA. If you frankly look at their electoral record, it's pretty pathetic. In this last election when 90 percent of incumbents got re-elected, only 80 percent of the people that they supported got re-elected. They -- didn't win almost any major election that they played in. They are not the electoral force that members of Congress think they are, and they are fundamentally on the wrong side of this debate.

The stuff they're putting out, like the commercial they released yesterday against President Obama, is almost like a "Saturday Night Live" parody of themselves.

MORGAN: Yes. MURPHY: And the if they're going to continue to conduct themselves in this way, members of Congress, I think, are going to start moving away from them.

MORGAN: But are you as dispirited as I am by the already, the sort of rumbling there's no way the president can push through any kind of assault weapons ban? Because no one needs to tell the people of Connecticut or indeed of Aurora that the deadly power of these weapons has no place on civilian streets or in civilian hands, and yet already, I'm seeing almost the white flags of surrender in Washington.

And I'm like, why? Who's going to show some kind of political leadership?

MURPHY: Yes, you know, I have talked to so many of these parents and families over the last few weeks. And one father, I said to him, listen, you know, I want your perspective on the coming debate on assault weapons. And he sort of paused for a second and said, what debate? I mean, to families in Newtown, it's pretty simple. If you had a ban on assault on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, there would still be little girls and boys alive.

And I just don't buy that we can't pass an assault weapons ban. I think if you put it on the floor of the United States Senate, it's going to be very hard for members of the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, to look the Newtown families in the eye, who are going to be in Washington, I guarantee you that, over the next several months, and tell them that they stand with the NRA instead of these kids.

I think we can pass it. It's not going to be easy, but if the president sticks to the commitment that he has made, if he doesn't get distracted by something else or another crisis, we can get this done.

MORGAN: I think it's so vital. I mean, obviously lots of the other proposals the president came out with are very important. But the canceling of these ridiculous loopholes in background checks, particularly at gun shows and so on, are just the bleeding obvious things to do. Investing in mental health and so on and so on.

But to me, the assault weapons ban has to be the plank of this, because it's these assault weapons that are being used for the massacres. It's not the issue involving handguns in Chicago. It's about assault weapons and their relationship to deranged people and massacres.

MURPHY: Yeah. And listen, absolutely we have to view this whole holistically and address the handgun violence in the cities. Let's be honest about exactly what happened in Newtown, Connecticut. First of all, if this guy didn't have an assault weapon, if he didn't feel invincible with this weapon that he used in video games in his hands, he might have never walked into that school in the first place.

But let's say he did that and he didn't have these high capacity magazines, what we know is in these shootings, they often stop when the shooter is reloading. We think that is what may have happened in Sandy Hook. This guy only had to reload twice to get 100 rounds off. If he had to reload nine times, he wouldn't have killed as many kids.

And that's the reality, is that we need to do all those other things. But if you get the 100 round, 30-round clips off the streets, the next time somebody walks into one of these schools, there's just going to be less carnage. And that's a tradeoff that every hunter in Connecticut, I think, is going to be willing to make, when they look at it.

MORGAN: I completely agree. Good for you, senator. Keep up the fight. It will be down to people like you showing the political courage that many in Washington have lacked over this to drive this through and make it happen. I wish you luck with it.

MURPHY: Thanks a lot, Piers.

MORGAN: My next guest doesn't think America has a gun problem at all. Larry Elder is a radio host of "The Larry Elder Show" and author of "Dear Father, Dear Son."

Mr. Elder, no gun problem in America?

LARRY ELDER, AUTHOR, "DEAR FATHER, DEAR SON": Piers, thank you very much for having me on. This book that I have written, "Dear Father, Dear Son," is by far the most important book I have ever written, because it's about the centrality of fathers.

The face of gun violence in this country, as horrific as Sandy Hook was, is not Newtown. It's Chicago, where 500 people last year were shot. Chicago is a city with about a third black, a third white, a third Hispanic. However 75 percent of the murders in Chicago were committed by blacks, usually against other blacks, most of it gang related.

The question is why do these boys join these gangs? The answer is they have no fathers in the house. Seventy five percent of black kids are born without fathers in the house, 50 percent of Hispanic kids, 25 percent of white kids.

MORGAN: Mr. Elder, let me jump in. I have read this claim of yours, and I have looked into it.

ELDER: Claim?

MORGAN: Yes, it's a claim. And I'll tell you why it's a claim. I don't dispute that there is the crime that you're saying down in Chicago. But I dispute that we all say this is the reason why it goes on. Because if you look at New York and Los Angeles, their gun homicide rates have dropped to levels in the 60s, an era when 25 percent of black children were born out of wedlock, compared to 70 percent now.

So how do you explain that using your argument?

ELDER: Piers, this has been studied many times by organizations like the Heritage Foundation. MORGAN: But do you explain that? How do you explain in New York, where they have extremely strong gun control now? How do you explain that? How do you explain it's not happening in New York?

ELDER: There are lots of factors why people commit crimes. But if you look at even New York and you look at the crime in New York, I'm willing to bet you, Piers, there's a direct relationship between those kids who came from homes with no dads and the fact that they committed crimes.

(CROSS TALK)

ELDER: One of the things I write about in my book "Dear Father, Dear Son" is the fact that there's a direct correlation between not having a father in the house and dropping out of school, going on welfare, being unemployed.

(CROSS TALK)

ELDER: Don't even quote people like Heritage Foundation. Let's talk about people like Tupac Shakur.

(CROSS TALK)

ELDER: Let me finish. He said if I had had a father in the house, I would have had more discipline and more confidence. You're ignoring what the real issue is here.

MORGAN: Larry, let me jump in because here is my point. What you're trying to make me believe is there's not really a gun problem. There's a social problem involving the lack of fathers --

ELDER: That's right.

MORGAN: -- in homes. It doesn't explain why the gun murder rate has plummeted in Los Angeles, which has just as much gang crime, as you know.

ELDER: It's plummeted all over the country. Plummeted all over the country because we're putting bad people behind bars longer.

MORGAN: Why don't you accept that where a city like New York, under successive mayors has not only introduced very tough gun control, but has enforced it with excellent police law enforcement, they have had stunning results in reducing the gun murder rate and the gun suicide rate. Why can't you just accept that that is a fact, and say that actually in Chicago, there may be many other issues -- one of the issues in Chicago is that states around Chicago, as you know, like Indiana, have very lax gun control.

So the gangsters just get in a car, go down there and load themselves up and come back. Also it may be that the police enforcement in Chicago has been nowhere near as effective as it has been in Los Angeles in dealing with gangs, and as it has been in New York. These are things you should consider, aren't they, before you dismiss there being no gun problem? ELDER: They most certainly are. And I would be willing to submit to you that the problem of children born without fathers is more acute in places like Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland than it is in New York. And of the criminals in New York, I'm willing to submit to you that those who commit crimes came from households just like the ones I mentioned.

I interviewed Kweisi Mfume, the former head of the NAACP, one time. I mention it in my book, "Dear Father, Dear Son." I said, Mr. Mfume, as between the presence of white racism or the absence of black fathers, which poses a bigger threat to the black community? He said without a bit, the absence of black fathers. Even Jesse Jackson once said crime has gotten so bad in this place, when I turn around and I see -- hear footsteps and they belong to a white person, I get relieved.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: Let me make it clear, I think you raise a perfectly valid point, and I think it is certainly part of the problem in certain parts of America. But I think you also --

ELDER: It's primarily the problem.

MORGAN: You also need to focus on assault weapons and other issues, which I think have an equally paramount importance. Larry Elder, thank you for joining me. We'll talk about this again, I'm sure, in the near future.

ELDER: You got it. Appreciate you having me. Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up, "The Today Show's" live wire, Hoda Kotb. And later, a preview of my extraordinary interview with Charlie Sheen, where he says that winning partly wasn't really winning after at. You have to watch this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HODA KOTB, "THE TODAY SHOW": I'm joined by Mr. Piers Morgan. Cathy Lee has got a few more days off this week. Nice to have you.

MORGAN: I'm so disappointed that she is not here. I thought by now we would have this going. What is this?

KOTB: This is a Mardi Gras king cake that was sent by Ms. Romak (ph) from New Orleans. The whole deal with this is this -- it seems early for Mardi Gras, because it's February. But this is the official sort of kick off to the Mardi Gras season, January 6th.

MORGAN: Hoda, you do not get a body like this eating cake like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN. Filling in for Kathy Lee and dishing the scoop with Hoda. I loved my time on "The Today Show" with Hoda. And the reason was I think you and your cakes gave me the perfect preparation for interviewing people like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

KOTB: You know what? Can I say how fun it was? There was something about you, because you had a weird way, I have to point out, when we had a guest, it started off fun and somehow you found a way to curve it and go right for it. I remember taking note when I watched you do it.

MORGAN: What I loved about you on there -- it's interesting about the premise of your book (inaudible), which I think is really smart. But what I always loved about you was that underpinning it all, I always felt, was a great love of news and journalism. That's really what you're about.

KOTB: I spent my whole career traveling the world and covering great stories. And I loved it. I loved every minute of it. I have to say, when I decided to switch gears and laugh and scratch and drink with Kathy Lee, it was a little unnerving, because I was so used to doing what I was used to.

But I realized was you're doing the same thing, except for it's just like lighter fare. And when breaking news does happens, you feel ready. You don't feel scared. You don't feel like, oh my gosh, what would I do. You have been there, done that.

So, I mean, look, I straddle the line and sometimes I -- you can't help but wonder, is this the right path or is this the right path?

MORGAN: I think it's been so the right path for you.

KOTB: It's been such fun for me.

MORGAN: It can only get better, I'm sure. Let's just flip some news. Two huge things this week. One, the gun control debate, which obviously I have been very passionate about. You said this about this: "it shouldn't be about no guns or Uzis. It should be somewhere where reasonable people all live. I can't understand why there's always the talk of a slippery slope. You take away an assault weapon, you won't have a weapon to protect yourself in your home. I don't really get that."

That's kind of what I feel.

KOTB: Yes.

MORGAN: It's not about taking everybody's guns away. It's about a particular type of weapon which, to date, nobody has really given me a sensible reason why a civilian would ever need one.

KOTB: Yes. It's so funny because every time I hear the argument, I feel -- I feel just what you said. I mean, you are sitting here and you're listening and you're thinking, why -- why do we have these types of weapons? And look, I think you should be able to be armed. I lived in the south for many, many, many years. People like to have their guns. They want to protect themselves. And I get it.

But I can't believe there can't be a discussion. That's the thing that kills me. It's one thing we'll figure out what we decide later, but you can't have a discussion about whether or not these types of weapons --

MORGAN: You have covered war zones. So you know the power of these weapons in military hands. They are really military-style weapons. When a machine like an AR-15 can pump out 100 bullets in a minute, these are war machines.

KOTB: Yeah. And I think once you have seen them in action, you have a really rude awakening. Look, I worked in New Orleans for many years and I covered lots of crime. We used to go and see murder after murder. I remember, I got to a point where I couldn't take it anymore.

At one point, there was a dead guy on the street, and before the coroner got there, there was crime tape around it. And this mom was standing there. And her kid came out. There was a little kid. I was watching this whole scene unfold. She said, "what are you doing out here, Jerome." And he looked at her -- and I said, oh, good -- she said, "without your coat on?"

It just showed how desensitized people had become to a murder in their neighborhood. That's how it was treated. They were more worried about the child catching the flu than they were about this child seeing this death in front of him. So that's when it hit me. I said, you know what, there's too much of this.

MORGAN: You went to Virginia Tech.

KOTB: I did.

MORGAN: When you hear this debate -- it's an interesting debate, I think, about whether you should have armed security in school, what do you think?

KOTB: I don't like -- this is my personal opinion. I don't like more guns to combat guns. That's me. I think there has to be another way around it.

MORGAN: Let's flip to Lance Armstrong. Big night for him, confessing to Oprah, finally after years of lying and deceiving the Americans and, indeed, everyone in the world. He's finally saying, I'm a cheat. What do you think of that?

KOTB: I'm very, very frustrated with this story. You know, one thing crystallized it to me, and I don't know why it was this. There was a commercial, a Nike ad. And it showed Lance Armstrong with a crush of reporters around him. And they were asking him things. They were taking blood from his arm. And the question was, what am I on, what am I on. And you see the camera come on, and he goes, "what am I on? I'm on my bike. What are you on?"

I just thought, oh, my gosh, this is a man who has taken this issue and made it such a public thing. Look, a whoopsy is a whoopsy, but 15 years of lying is a different thing. It's a totally and completely different thing. I'll be -- I'm frustrated with the whole situation.

MORGAN: I think it's a total disgrace.

KOTB: You do?

MORGAN: I think Lance Armstrong will go down in history as the greatest sporting cheat of them all.

KOTB: Do you.

MORGAN: I mean that in a negative way. I think he is somebody who inspired a whole generation and inspired it on a pack of lies. More than that, rather than cheat and hope he got away with it, this is a guy who actively sued journalists and newspapers publications and won vast sums of money.

It's interesting for me to talk to you about this, because you're a survivor, five years -- by the way which is fantastic. And you look amazing. Congratulations.

KOTB: I'm sorry, say that again.

MORGAN: You look amazing.

KOTB: Thank you.

MORGAN: As a survivor, can you divorce what he has done as a survivor to help cancer and other charities, and the money he has raised, from everything we now know about him?

KOTB: Look, I know how much need there is for money and for research and for things for cancer. I mean, you could say this is all bad money. It came after something bad.

MORGAN: Is there such a thing as bad money when it comes to fundraising for charity?

KOTB: I think there can be. I think there can be, because there's a big principle. I mean, everyone who is wearing the yellow bracelets, it's about more than the money. You're saying something. You're making a statement.

MORGAN: It's a sad day for sport and for cycling in particular, and for America, because he was a sporting icon.

KOTB: Yes, he sure was.

MORGAN: It's never good when a sporting icon comes crashing down as a complete cheat, because it just devalues everything he stood for.

Let's take a break. Let's come back and have some frivolous fun.

KOTB: Are we? I have been waiting for that.

MORGAN: You have not had a drink for the whole of January. You and Kathy Lee must be as near to death as life can get.

KOTB: This water is delicious. I just want to say.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As you know, I have a boyfriend now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hoda phone, that can't be true. Tell me, do you find it hard to find time to see him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it can be. I'm busy with "The Today Show."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean because he's imaginary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. OK, that was fake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So was your boyfriend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I mean it was an electronic device.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So was your boyfriend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Hilarious skit from "SNL" having fun with Hoda --

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: Quite prescient that skit, involving this football player who --

KOTB: No kidding. Oh my -- I did not invent that boyfriend, by the way. That was a true boyfriend at the time, Piers.

MORGAN: We have another imaginary partner scandal breaking before our very eyes.

KOTB: Yeah, that's pretty incredible. Exactly right here.

(CROSS TALK)

KOTB: That's depressing.

MORGAN: You have actually given up alcohol for the month of January Kathie Lee. I mean, I'm surprised at you. I'm stunned by Kathie Lee, a woman for whom a wine of glass is never more than three inches away. How are you dealing with no alcohol?

KOTB: It's depressing.

MORGAN: Does it feel as bad as I imagine it would?

KOTB: Here's the deal -- can I be totally honest? We're giving up alcohol on the show.

(LAUGHTER)

KOTB: So there are 23 other hours in the day. Anyway, it's a tough hour to get through.

MORGAN: Do you feel you've lost your --

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: You are the earliest drinkers on national television.

KOTB: The guests come on and they want their beverage.

MORGAN: I had Al Roker on last night. Would it help, do you think, if they had more alcohol in the earlier part of "The Today Show?"

KOTB: What do you think?

MORGAN: Calm everyone down a bit, you know.

KOTB: Nothing like lubing it up a little. I don't think it could hurt.

MORGAN: What do you make of the whole war with "GMA," the fall out from Ann leaving. When I did the show with you that time, I realized how important Ann was to the family of "The Today Show." It looks to me like there's been a divorce and everyone is slightly hurting from it.

KOTB: I think with us -- I mean you know from walking in the door, it really does feel like a family. I think Ann is doing what -- look, no one is better at being in one of the remote locations doing a thing like Ann Curry. Every time I see here out somewhere in the field, I think to myself, oh my God, she tells it better than anybody.

MORGAN: Yes. And a lovely person.

KOTB: She's a great person.

MORGAN: One of the nicest people I've met in television.

KOTB: Absolutely. When you walk in the door at "The Today Show," it really is like a family. And I don't know what Roker told you, but he said at one point -- he's always in a great mood. I said why are you always in a great mood? Every single day, you walk in here. And he said, you know why? He said, because my dad drove a city bus and I get to come here every day.

MORGAN: Yes. KOTB: And everybody, Matt especially, there's a gratefulness about being there. I don't know. I feel lucky walking in the door. And there are wars and everyone is looking at numbers. Is it up or is it down? But as far as I'm concerned, like we're on this show that's been driving the bus for 17 years. We hit a pothole and let's get moving. Come on.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: -- fantastic book. I will tell the viewers why. It's called "Ten Years Later." It's about six people who went through appalling adversity in their lives, all different stories, and it transformed them. You go back 10 years on and see how they've got on.

The one that really I found very poignant was a guy who had helped people on 9/11 get out of the towers without realizing that his own loved ones were in one of the planes that had crashed in. A more desperate kind of story you couldn't imagine, this guy helping and then having this despair.

KOTB: Yeah.

MORGAN: A riveting read, as they all are. Why did you come up with the idea?

KOTB: I thought it was a lot of people were in a funk, you know, whether it's tragedies around the world or close to home. And I think when you are hitting a bad spot, you think, how am I going to live 10 minutes, let alone 10 years? How is it going to be possible?

So we looked for people that had a big, difficult problem. We wanted to fast forward 10 years to see what happened to them, just so that you felt like if they are going through this and they made it, I can make it through what I'm going through.

It's kind of a pick-me-up, because I just felt like everyone just felt like so low lately. And some of these stories, there's a woman in here named Roxanne Quinnby (ph). She lost three waitressing jobs, had a couple of kids. Everything was falling apart, no money.

She sees a lumberjacky guy on the side of the road with a big pickle jar of honey. She says, what is that? He says, it's honey. No one is buying that. Let me help you package it. She helps him package it. She gets some money. People start buying it, liking it.

She takes the wax from his hives and makes candles. She says we have to get a name for this. So she goes to where all of his hives are and there's a big sign that says Burt's Bees. She goes, we'll call it Burt's Bees. She sold this company for 350 million dollars. I mean, man, like wow.

MORGAN: And they are all inspiring like that.

KOTB: They are all uplifting.

MORGAN: Some have made money. Others haven't. It's just a very inspiring book and a great idea.

Tomorrow I interview Charlie Sheen.

KOTB: Do you?

MORGAN: He's just become a grandfather. I thought we might leave our finally thought with your reaction to Charlie Sheen -- talk about 10 years later -- becoming a grandfather.

KOTB: You know what? Look, I think that it's one of those things that you wonder who is going to be wearing the bib at the end, the grandchild or Charlie Sheen?

MORGAN: I think Charlie probably feels pretty damn relieved he made it to be a grandfather.

Hoda, lovely to see you. Enjoy your orange juice. Cheers.

KOTB: It's missing something.

MORGAN: The fourth hour of "The Today Show" airs on weekdays at 10:00 am on NBC. Your book "Ten Years Later" is available right now in all discerning book shops.

KOTB: Thanks.

MORGAN: I commend people to buy it. Nice to see you.

KOTB: You too.

MORGAN: We'll be right back, a little more from my interview with Charlie Sheen, which airs tomorrow night. It's quite something.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Tomorrow night, the wild man is back. Charlie Sheen, one of my all-time favorite and most memorable guests, returns. Addiction, guns, fame, family, regrets, Lindsay Lohan, "Two and A Half Men" -- we covered just about everything.

Here's a preview, with Charlie talking about his whole bad boy image.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Is that always the demon on your shoulder?

CHARLIE SHEEN, ACTOR: Yes. It's like -- you know, there's also the thing for me, it's like people have come to expect a certain flair out of me, a certain type of behavior. Was I living it for them or for myself? Did it really feel good? Was it really who I wanted to be? I don't think it was who I wanted to be.

I think it just -- again, things just sort of got ahead of themselves and you start playing catch-up, trying put the blocks back together. MORGAN: I thought a lot of it was very entertaining, if I'm honest with you. I said it to you at the time. I found some of the stuff on the tour, I began to think, I don't want Charlie doing this anymore.

SHEEN: I thought that after like show two.

MORGAN: It felt a bit uncontrollable. You were get annihilated for --

(CROSS TALK)

SHEEN: Brutal.

MORGAN: The whole winning thing.

SHEEN: Not winning at all. I think what a lot of people don't realize is I was completely broke because, you know, when they kept my -- they fired me and all that, I didn't have any money left. So I was using the tour to actually pay child support and mortgages and stuff like that. So I'm grateful for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: A whole new Charlie Sheen, eloquent, mature. Dare I say it, he's grown up. That's tomorrow night. It's a great interview.

We'll be back at midnight with the latest on Lance Armstrong's confessional with Oprah Winfrey. Anderson Cooper starts now.