- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 17, 2000

The Paramount Television Group has assured homosexual activists that Laura Schlessinger's new TV show, set to air this fall, will offer "many points of view" on homosexuality and other issues.

Officials from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation met Monday with Paramount officials and representatives of Mrs. Schlessinger, widely known as the popular radio host "Dr. Laura."

"The meeting created a positive exchange of differing perspectives, and the dialogue with Paramount executives is expected to continue," according to a joint statement issued Tuesday by all the parties.

"In the meeting, Paramount discussed the format of the television show, which will vary from Dr. Laura's successful radio show … there will be many points of view, derived from a variety of sources, guests, and a studio audience."

On her radio program, which has 18 million listeners weekly, Mrs. Schlessinger, a physiologist, has referred to homosexuality as "deviant" and "dysfunctional."

She endorses transformational or reparative therapies designed to help homosexuals "attain a heterosexual life" and opposes homosexual adoption and "marriage."

Some conservative fans of Mrs. Schlessinger suggested Paramount caved in to GLAAD, continuing the generally favorable treatment homosexuals have received from television networks.

"It looks as if Paramount was bullied by a group that routinely tries to censor its opponents all in the name of fairness," said Robert H. Knight, Family Research Council senior director of cultural studies, in an interview yesterday.

GLAAD has characterized the FRC as a "radical … anti-gay group" and has attacked Mrs. Schlessinger as too heavily reliant on its research.

GLAAD also has called it "completely inappropriate" when journalists run statements from the FRC in news stories about homosexual issues "because of misguided notions of balance."

Mrs. Schlessinger herself did not attend Monday's meeting. But a staffer for the "Dr. Laura" radio show said the release reflected the talk show host's position and denied there was any cave-in.

"It's not true that Dr. Laura capitulated to anyone or anything … that's totally wrong," said Kevin Bellows, spokeswoman for the show, in a voice-mail message.

An unidentified spokesman for Mrs. Schlessinger told the Conservative News Service that she will have "total control" over content.

In a statement yesterday, Paramount said, "We respect and believe in Dr. Laura's right to have and express her own point of view, just as we respect the individual opinions of all our talent, employees, and producers."

Mr. Knight said he believes Mrs. Schlessinger is "strong enough to handle herself" in the show's discussions, but criticized Paramount for only seeking "balance" in conservative forums.

"What disturbs me is the precedent this sets that a special-interest group can barge into one of the few forums available for viewpoints other than those shared by the liberal media," Mr. Knight said.

"It bothers me that these demands [by GLAAD] were seriously heard by Paramount, since I don't know of any other opinion show that has been told to balance its views," he added.

What's more, Mr. Knight said, GLAAD has shown its true intent in previous pledges to get her syndicated radio show off the air.

Given Paramount's meeting with GLAAD, Mr. Knight said he is also urging the studio to meet "conservative media critics" such as the FRC and the Media Research Center to hear their side.

"Let's see how fair they can be," he said.

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