‘Dr. Laura’ to End Radio Show Over Racial Controversy

Paul Farhi, Washington Post, August 18, 2010

Laura Schlessinger, the blunt-spoken, sometimes controversial radio talk-show host whose racially charged comments drew widespread condemnation last week, said Tuesday that she will end her radio career at the end of the year.

The announcement by the host of the “Dr. Laura” program was a stunning denouement after a week in which Schlessinger was widely criticized for describing an African American caller to her program as “hypersensitive” for taking offense at a neighbor’s racial taunting. To illustrate her claim of a racial double standard, she said that black comedians often use the N-word on TV without criticism, but the word is forbidden for white people. She used the racial epithet, unexpurgated, 11 times in five minutes, despite her caller’s protests.

Schlessinger later apologized for the remarks, saying she said “the wrong thing” on the air. On Tuesday she went further: During an interview on “Larry King Live” on CNN, Schlessinger said, “My contract is up for my radio show at the end of the year, and I’ve made the decision not to do radio anymore.”

She added: “The reason is, I want to regain my First Amendment rights. I want to be able to say what’s on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special-interest group deciding this is the time to silence a voice of dissent and attack affiliates, attack sponsors. I’m sort of done with that.”

{snip}

Although she said her sponsors and affiliates have backed her, Schlessinger, 63–who holds a PhD in physiology from Columbia University–told King that she lived in “constant fear” that critics would attack them for her remarks.

“I never called anybody a bad word. I was trying to bring–and obviously it has become a national discussion now–I was trying to make a philosophical point,” she said. “And I made it wrong, but I wasn’t dissing anybody. {snip}”

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