From Aol NEWS:
(Aug. 13) — Dr. Laura Schlessinger would appreciate it if her remarks were taken in context.
“Don’t take things out of context. Don’t double NAACP me,” the conservative talk show host said on-air this week, after repeating the “N-word” more than 10 times during an uncomfortable exchange with a black caller.
Later, though, Schlessinger decided she’d crossed the line. Or the trip wire, at least.
The damage though, was done: The host had touched the third rail of American vernacular and walked herself onto a racial minefield where public figures before her have imploded for far less.
So whether Schlessinger’s apology will be enough to save the host’s reputation — and her radio show — is yet to be seen.
Already, familiar figures are gunning for Schlessinger’s head. “The advertisers and the people that carry her show should be very concerned about someone that’s freely using this word over and over again,” the Rev. Al Sharpton told CNN on Thursday, in what may be an ominous sign for the radio host.
Schlessinger’s company, Take on the Day, said no advertisers have called to express concern. “The advertisers have been very supportive because they understand that Dr. Laura is not a racist,” Corinne Baldassano, senior vice president of programming and marketing, told AOL News today in a phone interview.
But others have lost their jobs, at least temporarily, for similar offenses. In 2007, talk show host Don Imus found himself under fire for his comments about black women on the Rutgers University basketball team:
“That’s some nappy headed hos there, I’m going to tell you that,” he said on air. Imus’ moment of off-color alliteration cost him his job. CBS canceled the “Imus in the Morning” show, though it was picked up by the Fox Business Channel in 2008.
At the time, Schlessinger had little sympathy for his cause.
“As for Imus, it would seem his arrogance caught up with him,” she wrote on her blog during the 2007 scandal. “His remark was insulting, stupid, mean and ugly. It was so seemingly ‘off-the-cuff’ that it felt too casually familiar a thing for him to say.”
Those remarks seemed ironic today as word that Schlessinger herself was responsible for the latest “racist rant” shot across the Internet.
While Schlessinger’s repeated use of the “N-word” has attracted the most scorn, for example, some said they found the rest of the dialogue to be far more offensive.
“In actuality, it’s the rest of her rant that drips with racial animus,” Jamelle Bouie wrote at The American Prospect. “Dr. Laura isn’t known for her sensitivity, but this is an impressive display of raw racial resentment.”
When the caller complains that her husband, who is white, does not defend her from his family’s “racist remarks,” Schlessinger is unsympathetic. “You know what?” she says at the end of the call, “if you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry out of your race.”
Schlessinger married a dentist when she was 25, and had at least two extramarital affairs before they were divorced. Her first radio appearance was in 1974, as a caller on Bill Ballance‘s show in Los Angeles. She became a regular caller, and later a guest on Ballance’s show, as he became her mentor in radio, and her first known extramarital affair.
After a few years with Ballance, Schlessinger began the program that still runs today as The Dr. Laura Show, although she is neither a medical doctor nor a psychologist. Her PhD is in physiology — a degree which has nothing to do with human interpersonal relations. Critics of her show point out the ethics of using a degree in one field to imply credibility in another. If most of her audience isn’t swayed by that credential, Schlessinger also occasionally refers to herself as a “shrink.” She was granted a California Marriage, Family and Child Therapist license in 1980, and later taught at the University of Southern California, USC, and Pepperdine.
While still married to that dentist (and still ostensibly a marriage therapist), Schlessinger met and began another extramarital affair with Lewis G. Bishop, a professor of neuro-physiology and married father of three. They lived together for nine years after divorcing their spouses, and have been married since 1985.
On her radio show, she advocates the basic “family values” — no sex outside of marriage, moms shouldn’t work, divorce is wrong, abortion is wrong, living together without marriage is wrong, marriage too young is wrong, marriage without children is hardly a marriage at all, homosexuality is destructive and in her words “a biological error”, gay marriage is wrong, girls should not dress like “sluts”, and the family unit is of paramount importance.
Her own family unit has been dysfunctional at best. She describes her childhood as “difficult”, due to the rocky, “unloving” marriage between her father, a Jewish US citizen, and her mother, an Italian Catholic war bride. They later divorced. Schlessinger never got along well with her father, and she and her mother had been estranged for at least 14 years before her mother’s odd death in 2002. (Her partially decomposed corpse had been on the floor of her apartment for two months before being discovered, and police initially suspected murder). Schlessinger has also been estranged from her sister since the mid-1970s, and has reportedly told friends she is an only child.
Dr. Laura disapproves of divorce and pornography, but as a divorcee she posed for what can be called a “beaver shot” with her legs spread. In October of 1998, this and other naked photos of Schlessinger appeared on the internet. The photographer was Schlessinger’s ex-boyfriend Ballance, but as the woman in the photos was so much younger than the present-day Schlessinger, she simply lied at first — stating that it was a different woman. She then sued for copyright infringement, making the unlikely claim that while the woman in the pictures wasn’t her, she owned the copyright to the pictures. Eventually Schlessinger admitted her identity as the subject of the photos.
When asked why he posted the pictures, Ballance replied at length. “The fact is, she has been stealing my material for so many years. The fact is, she told so many lies about our relationship, an example being our being together just a week or two, and that she was on my show just a few days, or a few times rather. She was on my show for two and a half years. We went together for a torrid two and a half years. I’m tired of being lied about and the longer it goes on the more people believe her. They’ll think I’m the interloper. People will begin to assume that I was the beginner and that she taught me everything I know.”