For Her Exit Music, Dr. Laura Plays the Victim

For someone who likes to counsel people not to make excuses and on the merits of personal responsibility, Dr. Laura Schlessinger sure plays the victim with the best of them.

Schlessinger announced on “Larry King Live” that she would not continue her syndicated talkshow beyond her current contract, attributing the decision to the recent flap she caused by repeatedly saying “the N-word” to an African-American caller. She was trying to make a point about it being acceptable for black guys to use that language but not white people, but she wound up sounding like an out-of-touch scold, as she often does.

Schlessinger apologized for her words, but they still unleashed a torrent of criticism, including a call to boycott her sponsors. And while I’m not a huge fan of that particular tactic, it’s certainly fair game in a commercial marketplace, as conservative groups such as the Parents Television Council and American Family Assn. have repeatedly demonstrated.

Dr. Laura’s response was typical Dr. Laura — much the same as when she uttered homophobic slurs and brought about protests against her short-lived syndicated Paramount TV show: People are unfairly maligning her. Boo-hoo.

“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 told King. “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.”

But that’s nonsense. She exercised her First Amendment rights, and now critics are exercising their right to express their disapproval through financial measures. Happens all the time.

The truth is Schlessinger has been an embarrassment for years — cranky, peevish, snapping at callers as frequently as she helps them. She was as much guilty of this during the call that triggered the latest backlash as anything else — and became especially irritable when the caller dared question her use of the word. There’s nothing more pathetic than an advice maven who can’t follow her own advice.

Schlessinger made clear that she has no intention of disappearing, and with all the outlets hungry for recognizable names I’m sure she’ll have plenty of options, not that she needs the money. But her attempt to walk away from the show with her head held high — as if she’s the injured party — is both laughable, and way too late.

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