Friction between the LGBT community and Dr. Laura's stance on human sexuality during the broadcasts of her TV show:
2000-SEP-11: The TV program
2000-SEP-21: In light of criticism about
TV programming generally, a panel of TV network executives was asked if
there were programs on television they didn't feel they could defend.
Garth Ancier, president of NBC's entertainment unit, said:
not embarrassed about anything on television, with the exception of 'Dr.
2000-SEP-22: Dr. Laura's TV program had received
very poor ratings. Paramount had difficulty attracting national sponsors
to the show, partly because of a campaign led by some LGBT-rights groups. The latter:
to Schlessinger being given a TV forum because of her comments regarding
homosexuality, which she has termed 'deviant' and 'a biological error.' " 1
LA Times reported on SEP-22 that production of the TV program had been
"...there was speculation inside
Paramount, a division of Viacom, that the company will take advantage of
the time off to 'retool' the show or revise its format."
2000-SEP-26: According to Maranatha Christian News Service, Dr. Laura's
TV program attracted only 1.7% of American households with TV sets. This
compares to 5.4% for the "Oprah Winfrey" show, and 4.6% for "Live
with Regis." They said that:
"Paramount spokesperson Daniella Cracknell told
Reuters the hiatus is normal and that the show was preparing for the
ratings sweeps. She said it would be back in production on September 27." 3
2000-OCT-13: According to ReligionToday and
PlanetOut: Dr. Laura apologized for the second time in recent months to the LGBT community. She is an
Orthodox Jew, and the Jewish High Holy Days had recently concluded. Dr.
Laura took out a full-page ad in Daily Variety titled "A
Heartfelt Message From Dr. Laura Schlessinger" It read, in
part, that she deeply regrets
"... the hurt this situation has caused
the gay and lesbian community."
Earlier, in March, she had said that
of the words I've used have hurt some people, and I am sorry for that."
She admitted that:
"While I express my opinions from the
perspective of an Orthodox Jew and a staunch defender of the
traditional family, in talking about gays and lesbians some of my
words were poorly chosen. Many people perceive them as hate speech.
This fact has been personally and professionally devastating to me as
well as to many others. Ugly words have been relentlessly repeated and
distorted for far too long."
Joan Garry of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation commented:
"In a paid advertisement in the October 11
edition of Daily Variety, Laura Schlessinger once again blames
others for the impact of her rhetoric, refusing to take
responsibility for her precisely chosen, scientifically inaccurate
descriptions of gay and lesbian lives. Schlessinger's tepid
assertion that her anti-gay words were 'poorly chosen' represents
another blow to her waning credibility. The notion that
Schlessinger's words have somehow been 'distorted' is absurd.
GLAAD has always offered Schlessinger's words verbatim and in full
context. And more disturbingly, nowhere in her statement does
Schlessinger say that she will stop using her ugly words to
describe gays and lesbians. Schlessinger has demonstrated time and
again that she refuses to be held accountable for what she says
publicly. The anger Schlessinger caused by her words is too great
and too profound to simply go away after a qualified admission of
some guilt. Laura Schlessinger's cat-and-mouse game of words has
gone on too long. Our community deserves better and awaits genuine
words backed up by authentic actions."
PlanetOut News Staff commented:
"Moved by the
atonement holiday the talk host took out an ad to say she's sorry
for her anti-gay statements, but many think she has an apology
deficit disorder." 4
Deborah Levinson of About.com commented:
"This [ad] is
merely an 'I've-been-misunderstood-
you're-not-only-hurting-my-feelings -but-you're-hurting-my-ratings' whine." 5
2000-NOV-13: Show is downgraded: Gladd Lines commented:
"Since its Sept. 11 premiere, Dr. Laura had occupied high-profile timeslots between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. across the country. However, following nine weeks of scathing reviews, anemic ratings and fleeing advertisers, nine of the top ten (and 12 of the top 25) stations carrying Dr. Laura have downgraded Schlessinger to late-night timeslots, usually between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Among the markets to downgrade Dr. Laura are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, St. Louis, Orlando and Austin." 6
2000-DEC-7: Show is downgraded further: During 2000-NOV, 13 CBS stations dropped Dr Laura. The Seattle, WA station switched the program from 3 PM to 2 AM. 7
2001-MAR-30: Her TV show was cancelled: Dr. Schlessinger released a
statement confirming that the last episode of her TV show had been taped
on the previous day. The movement to have Dr. Laura taken off TV was
spearheaded by StopDrLaura.com. Its co-founder, Joel Lawson,
"We generated a lot of press about her worst statements, and
advertisers didn't want to read about themselves in the same sentence.
The web site fueled protests; the protests fueled media coverage; and
the coverage fueled more interest in the web site. We hit PR nirvana." 8
2000-MAY: Reactions in Canada to Dr. Laura's TV show:
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) is a voluntary organization
with members from about 450 Canadian TV and radio stations. They decided on
2000-MAY-17 that Dr. Laura Schlessinger's:
"... unremittingly heavy-handed and
unambiguously negative characterization"
of gays and lesbians violates
Canadian broadcasting codes on human rights.
They described her comments as
"abusively discriminatory." They expressed concern that it might
motivate unstable individuals to commit violence against gays and
lesbians. A CBSC spokesperson commented:
"This [ruling] has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with
comments that are made on an identifiable minority. It could be an identifiable
minority by reason of the color of their skin; it could be by reason of their
religion; it could be by reason of their gender. In this case it was by reason
of their sexual orientation."
Their ruling mentioned that Dr. Laura
had characterized the homosexual behavior as "abnormal,"
"aberrant," "deviant," "disordered,"
"dysfunctional," and "an error." It stated that:
"The sexual practices of gays and lesbians are as much a part of their
being as the color of one's skin or the gender, religion, age or ethnicity of an
individual. To use such brutal language as she does about such an essential
characteristic flies in the face of Canadian provisions relating to human
In practice, the only significant result of this ruling is that member stations were
required to describe the CBSC ruling on air, during prime-time hours. No
censorship of Dr. Laura's program was imposed.
However, at least one U.S. conservative Christian group, the Conservative News Service, regarded the Canadian ruling
as a form of censorship. Michael Johnston, spokesman for Kerusso Ministries, said:
"What's important about this from the perspective of Americans is
that this is the future for America. ...The kind of policies,
particularly as they relate to non-discrimination policies, that
homosexual activists are pushing and which are becoming increasingly
acceptable in the eyes of the public, are taking us down this road to
where anyone who disagrees is going to be censored from the public
airways. ... The key evidence [about whether homosexual
behavior is innate or learned] is to be found in some form of objective
truth. And, since the founding of this country, there has been a consensus
that there was an objective truth on which to base morality, on which to
base public policy, and that was the Judeo-Christian understanding of
human beings and of God. It is because we have jettisoned as a people that
consensus that leads to this different position-taking based on opinion." 9
A brief note in the Toronto Star on 2000-OCT-5 indicated that the
Canadian TV stations which had carried Dr. Laura decided to
drop the show because of its low ratings.