Controversial radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger has had a rough time transitioning into television — protests, hate mail, lost advertising, and negative press have haunted the advice-giving doc since Paramount announced it would give her a TV forum.
Less than a month after the debut of Dr. Laura, the daytime program has one of the worst ratings in the talk show universe. It temporarily halted production Sept. 23 for what the studio called adjustments and "planning."
Now the inflammatory Schlessinger is being accused of packing her show with "plants," fake guests who are actually on her payroll, reports the New York Post.
On a Sept. 25 episode named "Readin', Writin', and Cheatin'," one of Schlessinger's guests was a so-called college student who specialized in professional note-taking. The Post says that that guest was actually Dr. Laura researcher San-D Duchas. The show never made note of her real job — and Schlessinger even told Duchas, "I'm really honored you have the courage to come here today."
The next day, Duchas again appeared as a guest on a program titled "Getting to the Altar." Interns at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, probably Schlessinger's strongest foe, say they saw through her disguise and told the Post about Duchas' sneaky spots.
Paramount refused to comment on the accusation.
Gay activists have had a field day with Dr. Laura's slump. Schlessinger has been under fire from both gay activists and entertainment officials, who are determined to shut the program down over references Schlessinger made on her radio show, calling homosexuals "deviants" and "biological errors." Many of Dr. Laura's advertising sponsors have also deserted the show due to its host's contentious comments.
Reuters contributed to this story.