Dr. Laura Schelssinger, still reeling from the public criticism of her use of the “N-word” during a recent radio broadcast, told TV talk show host Larry King that she plans to quit radio at the end of the year, when her contract expires. In an appearance on Larry King Live, Dr. Laura said she is leaving radio after 30 years on the air as she wants to reclaim her free speech rights guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
The 63-year-old radio pop psychologist told Larry that she was not retiring, that she planned to get off the radio so that she, the radio network she is contracted to, their affiliates and her radio show’s sponsors wouldn’t be subjected to boycotts by political forces that she feels do not want to engage in intelligent debate.
Earlier this year, Larry King also announced his plans to retire at the end of his contract. He has been a talking head on CNN for 25 years. For most of those years, he was the network’s leading personality, but his show has been experiencing falling ratings.
Dr. Laura has been a pop psychologist on the radio for 36 years, and her show was first nationally syndicated in the 1980s, carried by ABC Radio. She dispensed relationship advice, heavily skewed towards the subject of sex. By the end of the 1990s, only conservative radio talk show host’s Rush Limbaugh radio show had a bigger audience.
Ironically, she began to turn to the right and emphasize conservative politics on her show as the new millennium dawned, and she lost millions of viewers. Dr. Laura eventually was dumped by ABC. From a peak of 450 stations carrying her program, she is now down to 200. Still, her show is tied for third place with the radio shows of paleolithic reactionaries Glen Beck and Michael Savage.
Dr. Laura started her appearance on the show with a mea culpa about how she was wrong to have used the N-word 11 times during the broadcast in which a caller named Jade — an African American woman married to a white man — had called her for advice on how to deal with what she perceived to be hostility from her husband’s family and white friends.
Jade was fed up with her husband’s obsequiousness in the face of what she considered overt racial hostility. Dr. Laura thought she was hypersensitive and in a discussion of the use of the N-word by whites she dropped the “N-bomb” by citing how frequently the N-word is used by cable TV comedians.
On Larry King Live, Dr. Laura reiterated how wrong she had been in engaging in what she thought of as a “philosophical” discussion of racism by resorting to the N-word. Ultimately, she was wrong as she did not help Jade. She had failed one of her callers, and that was proof that her approach was wrong and that she needed to apologize which she did before the day was out.
In the initial part of the broadcast, Dr. Laura was very classy. Then Larry King asked her why she had come on his show, what she wanted to tell America, and she became her feisty self.
The Era of the Internet
Dr. Laura announced she was quitting radio, which triggered a response from Larry King.
“You’e giving up the one area of your fame,” King said.
“Oooh my dear,” Dr. Laura countered, announcing her new focus on her other professional venues. “I write books, I have blogs, I have my web site. [drlaura.com]…
“This is the era of the Internet,” she declared. She told Larry that in the future, the Web would be the dominant means by which she would disseminate her opinions.
“Why is your freedom of speech denied?” Larry asked.
Dr. Laura announced that when she started in radio, if someone disagreed with you, they were willing to debate. In the current political climate, special interest groups eschew dialogue and go on the attack.
“Now they try to silence you,” she said. “They try to wipe out your ability to earn a living and to have your job.”
Dr Laura went on to claim that they wield the weapon of the boycott not only against her, but third parties.
“They go after the affiliates,” she explained. They send threats to sponsors.”
“That’s their right too,” Larry countered.
“Yes,” Dr. Laura agreed, “but I don’t have the right to say what I need to say. My First Amendment rights have been usurped by angry hateful groups who don’t want to debate: They want to eliminate.”
She told Larry that it was time to move on to other venues “where I can say my piece.”
She will not longer have have to live in fear that the radio stations who carry her show, her sponsors and her “peeps” (listeners) are going to be upset.
Knowing the history of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, she is sure to be as controversial and inflammatory on the Internet as she has been on the radio.
CNN: Larry King Live[Video] “Dr. Laura to end her radio show”
Los Angeles Times, “Fast Track: Dr. Laura is leaving radio”
New York Times, “Larry King to End Show in the Fall”