Dr. Laura Schlessinger

What was the accusation?

In August 2010, talk radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger (a.k.a. Dr. Laura) took a call from an African-American woman seeking advice on how to address her husband [a Caucasian man] allowing his family and friends to say things that she felt were racist. When usage of the n-word came up, Schlessinger, already in disagreement with her caller as to whether the comments made by her husband’s family and friends were actually racist, said, [Black] guys use it [the n-word] all the time. Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic, and all you hear is n—, n—-, n—-, repeating the word at least three more times during the on-air conversation. As a result, Schlessinger offended her caller and incurred public disdain, including high-profile criticism from the Rev. Al Sharpton. In the face of this backlash, Schlessinger opened one of her next radio segments with a formal apology for her horrible mistake.

Key Apologia Strategies:

Mortification, Good Intentions, Bolstering, Corrective Action



I talk every day about doing the right thing.  And yesterday, I did the wrong thing.  I didn’t intend to hurt people, but I did.  And that makes it the wrong thing to have done. I was attempting to make a philosophical point, and I articulated the ‘n’ word all the way out “ more than one time.  And that was wrong.  I’ll say it again “ that was wrong. I ended up, I’m sure, with many of you losing the point I was trying to make, because you were shocked by the fact that I said the word.  I, myself, realized I had made a horrible mistake, and was so upset I could not finish the show.  I pulled myself off the air at the end of the hour.  I had to finish the hour, because 20 minutes of dead air doesn’t work.  I am very sorry.  And it just won’t happen again. I received some letters, and what touched me is that, even though many of you were upset, you still showed friendship for all the years we’ve been together on the air, and for that, trust me, I am very grateful.  Here’s an example: I’d like to thank this woman for sending me this letter.  I was so very touched, and truthfully, it helped me make it through the night.  So I’m going to read this letter:

Dear Dr. Laura:

I have been a listener for at least 20 years.  I have bought and read several of your books.  I have always held you in high regard, and have encouraged others to listen to you as well.  I have to say, after today’s call with the African-American woman with the Caucasian husband who called seeking how to handle ‘racist’ comments, I am a bit dismayed.  I believe that African-Americans using the n-word is disdainful, as well as Caucasians or any other race for that matter.  I agree that the argument some African-Americans use that it is ok for them to use it and not others, is ridiculous.  But, I have to say, when I heard you saying the word repeatedly, it struck a negative chord with me.

I don’t believe you are a racist, and I don’t believe, as an African-American woman, that I am hypersensitive.  I have to say after the call, I found it difficult to continue to listen to the rest of the show.  I have not made the decision to stop listening to your show, but I felt compelled to respond because I found it offensive.

Sincerely {and she gives her name}

One last note –The caller in question (her name is Jade), called for help from me, and didn’t get it, because we got embroiled in the ‘n’ word, and I’m really sorry about that, because I’m here for only one reason and that’s to be helpful, so I hope Jade or somebody who knows her is listening, and hope she will call me back and I will try my best to be helpful, which is what she wanted from me in the first place and what she did not get.


Dr. Laura apologizes for using n-word. (2010, August 19). CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/08/13/dr.laura.rant/index.html

My apology. (2010, August 11). Drlaurablog.com. Retrieved from http://www.drlaurablog.com/2010/08/11/my-apology/