In Defense of Dr. Laura

After her controversial exit, the talk-show host gains an unlikely support group

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On Tuesday night, conservative radio advice-guru Laura Schlessinger announced she's quitting radio after 30 years on the air. Schlessinger's departure follows a controversial on-air exchange she had with a black woman on her show. During the episode, the woman explained to Schlessinger that her husband is white and his relatives frequently use hurtful racial language around her, including the "N-word." In response, Schlessinger said "Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic, and all you hear is n*****, n*****, n*****." Schlessinger also told her that "If you're that hypersensitive about color and don't have a sense of humor, don't marry out of your race." The backlash to Schlessinger's remarks was swift and the next day she apologized on her blog and on-air. As she leaves her radio career for a new start online, a small group of commentators are partially (and in some cases fully) defending her:

  • Dr. Laura Didn't Deserve This, writes Earl Ofari Hutchinson at The Huffington Post: "The obsessive use of and the tortured defense of the word by so many blacks gave her the license to use the word without any thought that there'd be any blow back for doing it. She was wrong and got publicly called out for it. But that doesn't make her rationale or her explanation for using it any less valid. Dr. Laura got it right about the N word."
  • She Did Teach Us One Thing, writes Keli Goff at The Huffington Post: "By no means am I a fan of Dr. Laura, (as she's known), but I'm even less of a fan of the n-word, which I find more offensive, more harmful, and more poisonous to our community than Dr. Laura will ever be. So the reason I'd like to thank her is because I'm hoping that her recent on air meltdown will finally help settle a philosophical debate over the n-word that has raged for years... Arbitrary rules about who can say the n-word and who cannot simply do not work."
  • I Wish Her the Best, writes conservative Michelle Malkin: "She’s a broadcast and publishing legend. She’s battled political correctness for years. Tonight, the incomparable Dr. Laura announced that she’s ending her daily radio talk show — in order to allow her to speak her mind more freely. More power to her."
  • Why Didn't the Right Defend Her? wonders Brian Maloney at Radio Equalizer: "Even more peculiar is how Dr Laura was actually defended at least in part by several leftists at Huffington Post and elsewhere. Clearly, however, Schlessinger got the message she'd get no backing from conservatives and threw in the towel after 30 years of leading the fight against cultural decay in America."
  • Dissent  James Joyner at Outside the Beltway reflects critically on her career:

Quitting a talk show so you can say what’s on your mind is akin to resigning a governorship to have more impact on public policy.  But, hey, it’s all the rage these days.

Even back in the days when I was listening to conservative talk radio for hours on end, I was never a Schlessinger fan.  She always struck me as bitter, mean, callous, and particularly out of touch with the human condition.   She routinely dispensed advice that was plainly idiotic and hurtful.

It didn’t help that she billed herself as “Dr. Laura” for a show built around personal counseling, even though her doctorate is in physiology instead of psychology, psychiatry, or something else that gave her the slightest bit of expertise in the field.   Then again, real counseling experts don’t offer diagnoses based on three-minute telephone conversations.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.