Dr. Laura Schlessinger has recently resigned from her US national radio program following a rant about race and in particular after her repeated use of the ‘n’ word, as such. This latest controversy which has been widely covered by the US media and by members of the UK media, such as Roy Greenslade, is not unprecedented for this tempestuous star of radio. In 1998 she was a highly paid star with a media group paying $71.5 million for her program. The program was hugely popular and successful but also, as the LA Times stated
It can also be a very unforgiving show. An undercurrent of breathtaking anger surges not far beneath the jokes and laughter. For all the chumminess and girlish teasing, there is a drum beat of invective as Schlessinger rips into people, snarling insults at often pathetically needy callers, their friends, members of their families.
In the 1990s Dr Laura targeted another group and derided “homosexuality” as “a biological error,” “deviant behavior, a dysfunctional behavior,” and proceeded to link gay men to pedophilia and child molestation.
In 1999, the popular sitcom Frasier screened an episode called Dr Nora in which a strict, fundamentalist and judgemental new radio host is given a talk show on KACL. That character, who essentially satirized the real Dr Laura, turned out to have her own problems and rushed out of her job following a confrontation with reality in the form of her mother.
In spring 2001 the Dr Laura show was cancelled. Now nearly 10 years later the host has stepped down citing that she was pursued by angry and hateful groups that want to infringe on her right to free speech. The latest protest happened after an African-American woman called the show for advice on dealing with the resentment she felt when her white husband didn’t speak out about racist comments his friends made. Dr Laura used the n-word 11 times during the conversation and told the woman that she had a “chip on [her] shoulder.” The host also added that “a lot of blacks voted for Obama” due to race and said that the caller shouldn’t “marry out of [her] race” if she didn’t “have a sense of humor.”
The full audio is available from Media Matters for America so decide for yourself about her approach. As Frasier optimistically puts it: “I mean really, people can tell the difference between constructive criticism and outright abuse”.
The critics are more likely to echo Roz’s query to Dr Nora: “what kind of vicious, judgemental, name-calling, machete mouthed bitch are you?” Luckily it no longer matters as she will no longer be tainting the airwaves. For now at least.