The Untold Truth Of Laura Ingraham

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Conservative firebrand Laura Ingraham is known to her millions of fans on talk radio and Fox News as a sharp-tongued, no-holds-barred critic of American politics. To say she skews to the right is an understatement — she once quoted a comedian who compared liberals to herpes — and she made news for starting a beef with Parkland shooting survivor-turned gun control advocate David Hogg.

After Hogg stated his disbelief that he'd been rejected from four colleges in spite of his strong academic aptitude, Ingraham tweeted a response which many viewed to be a taunt of the activist teen. Hogg then called for an advertising boycott on Ingraham's show, The Ingraham Angle, and many companies pulled support. Ingraham eventually apologized and took what Fox News called a "pre-planned" Easter break. As of this writing, Fox News seems to have to stuck by Ingraham, despite the advertising freefall. So we await Ingraham's next political scuffle, dive into her background; how she rose to the top of the ranks on conservative talk radio; and how she eventually landed a spot on prime-time right wing holy ground at Fox News. This is the untold truth of Laura Ingraham.

Achievement is a habit for Laura Ingraham

Laura Ingraham's appetite for conservative commentary started in her days in academia. As an undergrad at Dartmouth college, she made history by becoming the first female editor-in-chief of the The Dartmouth Review, a right-wing publication not officially affiliated with the school. From there, Ingraham attended law school at the University of Virginia, earning her Juris Doctorate degree, before clerking for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Oh, we almost forgot this: Between Dartmouth and UVA, Ingraham was a speechwriter in the Reagan administration — NBD, right? After law school, she became a lawyer, naturally. However, she had a nagging sensation that she wanted something more.

"Sometimes you'll go on a zig-zag path, but it will make getting there much sweeter, or at least it did for me," Ingraham told students at her alma mater during an address there in 2013. Clearly, talk radio was where Ingraham hit her stride, becoming "the most-listened-to woman in America on political talk radio," according to Talk Radio 1370 AM, who also reported that her syndicated show has been carried all over the country and in 225 markets.  

With notoriety comes controversy

Before stoking the fires of partisan politics on the AM band, Laura Ingraham triggered a few controversies back at The Dartmouth Review in the early '80s. According to The New York Times, Ingraham sent a reporter to secretly record a meeting of the Gay Students Association (GSA), then published a partial transcript of the meeting, including the identities of two "association officials." The GSA felt this was a violation of its first amendment rights, since members were required to take "an oath of confidentiality" to attend.

Ingraham later justified the story by saying the publication was simply investigating school funding that the GSA had received — a total of $825 over two years — and that her reporter acted legally under freedom of the press. "It seems they just have parties and talk about parties," Ingraham told UPI, adding, "There isn't a heterosexual group that gets funding." The story gained national attention and became a lightning rod for critics who claimed Ingraham "outed" her fellow students. Ingraham disputed that claim in her 1997 piece for The Washington Post, while also taking responsibility for her past intolerances towards LGBT rights. She said her position on the issue evolved after observing her homosexual brother Curtis' partner's battle with AIDS.

Remember Laura Ingraham's riff on The Daily Show?

Though she had spectacular success on talk radio and eventually became the permanent guest host for Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Laura Ingraham's first go-round at a solo TV project for the conservative cable station didn't go so well. According to The Famous People, Ingraham's 2008 show, Just in with Laura Ingraham, lasted just three weeks before getting yanked. This compilation of clips showcasing the show's attempt a blending conservative talking points with The Daily Show-style humor perhaps offers a possible glimpse as to why.

Nearly two decades earlier, Ingraham fared a bit better utilizing a virtually identical format for her late '90s MSNBC show, Watch It!, which according to Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio (via HuffPost), lasted 17 months and was shifted to three different time slots. Speaking with C-Span about her first foray on the small screen, Ingraham said, "It was a great time. We tried to do it like a mini interview, a little bit like The Daily Show ... It was odd, very ambitious and a lot of fun." When the show was cancelled, Ingraham said she was never told why, which she described as "that's kind of the way MSNBC goes." She also said the experience eventually caused her to pivot to a full-time radio gig.

Laura Ingraham took what she once dished out

In a bit of an ironic twist, Laura Ingraham once called for an advertiser boycott like the one she faced from student activist David Hogg. Ingraham flexed her considerable weight against Verizon over its sponsorship of a 2007 concert tour featuring rapper Akon. Why? The "Smack That" rapper was in the hot seat over an "explicit dance" he performed with a 14-year old girl during a show in Trinidad. Though hers was far from the only conservative criticism of Akon, Ingraham's influence is what moved Verizon to pull its sponsorship from the tour on which Akon was a "supporting act," according to Reuters. The telecom giant did not specifically cite the Akon controversy as the reason it pulled out of the tour, but a source told Reuters, "Verizon received a lot of calls from Laura Ingraham fans and Verizon caved."

Ingraham didn't have any problems claiming credit for the advertising scalp. According to the conservative blog Hot Air she later appeared on Your World with Neil Cavuto and "slammed Akon for mainstreaming utter vile filth." She also thanked others who had rallied against him, as well as "her listeners for getting Verizon to drop the convicted rapper." 

Meghan McCain thanks Laura Ingraham for her career

The late Arizona Sen. John McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain, is now a public figure in her own right, having co-hosted the panel show Outnumbered on Fox News before landing a permanent spot at the table with the ladies of The View. But when she'd only just dipped her toe into the shark-filled waters of political punditry back in 2009, McCain tangoed with none other than Laura Ingraham. According to Think ProgressIngraham then used a "valley girl" voice to imitate Meghan, made a mocking reference to how show couldn't get cast on The Real World because "they don't like plus-sized models," and slammed The View host for being critical of "extreme" political viewpoints on both sides of the aisle.

McCain responded in a column for the Daily Beast titled, "Quit Talking About My Weight, Laura Ingraham," in which she questioned why Ingraham deviated from the ideological discussion for a crass personal attack. Ingraham responded by calling her "plus-sized models" remark a "throwaway comic line" that was an attempt to jab at "Hollywood's obsession with stick figure women." Years later, Adweek asked Meghan how she felt about her previous feuding with Ingraham, and her response was: "I just want to thank her for my career. She's the person who got me national attention. That's all I have to say about that." Check. Mate.

Laura Ingraham swung hard at Megyn Kelly

If you thought all past and present Fox News hosts were automatically on the same side, think again. There doesn't even seem to be a shared bond of sisterhood between former colleague Megyn Kelly and Laura Ingraham, despite the many reasons working in the same troubled newsroom could have forged one. But for Ingraham especially, there was no love lost when Kelly defected to NBC News. In her October 2017 interview with The New York Times, Ingraham swiped at Kelly's now-defunct nine o'clock hour on Today with a rather unflattering comparison."What do you think? We're going to have a stove in the back, and we're going to have popovers?" She said of Kelly's "softened on-air persona," adding, "No. I won't be doing that."

On-air, Ingraham has come for Kelly a few times, referencing the flagging ratings of Kelly's morning show and mocking her segment featuring women who have accused President Trump of sexual harassment and assault. Ingraham also tweeted a Variety story that pondered NBC's controversial hiring of Kelly with the question, "Did NBC make a $17.5m mistake?" Yeesh. Shots have not only been fired here, but full-on war has been waged, even if only one side seems to be fighting.

Laura Ingraham has Trump on speed dial

In an interview with The New York Times, Laura Ingraham casually revealed that she talks to President Donald Trump on the phone rather frequently. "Sometimes, I call him, and occasionally, I'll get a call," she said of her "few times a month" phone chats with the leader of the free world. It was a remarkable admission to make, but one that perhaps shouldn't have come as much of a surprise given the president's known TV-watching habits — he's an unabashed lover of Fox News — coupled with Ingraham's early endorsement during his candidacy.

But that's not to say that Ingraham is Trump's yes-woman. She also pointed out to The Times that she's been critical of the president at times and that she would continue to do so on air as she saw fit. "He'll probably, uh, be irked," Ingraham said when asked how she thought Trump might react to her criticism. "We are friends, but friends tell friends when they go off course. And I'm sure he'll tell me when he thinks I'm deviating from what's proper and thoughtful. And I'll do the same with him." 

Maybe she could get him to slow it down to just a dozen tweets per day?

Vote For Laura Ingraham...someday

For decades, Laura Ingraham has given more than her two cents on the American political process, and there may come a day when she decides to get off the sidelines. Speaking with The Sunday Times (via Real Clear Politics) in 2013, Ingraham said that she's "been approached by various people to get involved" and that she was "keeping an open mind about running for office in the future."

Fast forward four years, and Ingraham's plans had not yet solidified, although she seemed to have narrowed her sights on a branch of government to try to infiltrate: the legislature. Specifically, Ingraham was eyeballing the seat occupied by Tim Kane, the junior senator from Virginia, who also ran for vice president alongside Hillary Clinton.

In an echo of her remarks from 2013, Ingraham once again said that she'd been encouraged to run by some "well connected" Virginians, which she found "very flattering," although she had yet to make up her mind on whether to do so, according to CNN. A few months later, The Washington Post all but ruled out the possibility of Ingraham joining the 2018 race, but we wouldn't discount the notion that the extremely popular pundit who President Trump considered to be his press secretary has given up her political aspirations just yet.

Don't call Laura Ingraham a cancer survivor

Laura Ingraham was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, and battled for years with chemotherapy and surgery. In 2013, she spoke with Talkers about being a cancer "thrivor" (she says the term survivor "sounds too defensive"). "The coast is clear," Ingraham said, adding, "I try to go on without obsessing about it all that much. It was not a pleasant experience to go through and I treated it like training for a marathon, or writing a law school essay. I powered through it and did not want people to pity me."

Ingraham even channeled the life-threatening struggle into another book, Power to the People, which was published in 2007. Though the book covers Ingraham typical political stomping grounds, she told Cancer Connect that it was the stories of other "thrivors" that inspired her to write it. Asked to counsel others afflicted with a cancer diagnosis, Ingraham again referred to a cancer battle in terms of a tough assignment. "It shouldn't be the defining characteristic of your life. It's something you've got to go through and keep moving forward," Ingraham advised. "That's the best advice I can give you — and ask God for help because you can't do it on your own."

Laura Ingraham adopted kids along with a passionate cause

Laura Ingraham started The Adopt a New Attitude Project in response to the Russian government's retaliatory 2012 ban of all adoptions to the United States. According to The Washington Free Beacon, the former Soviet state's harsh restriction was a reaction to U.S. economic sanctions, and it resulted in the immediate stoppage of any further adoptions of Russian children to American families, including more than 300 adoptions who were already somewhere in the process.

Referring to adopted children as "little angels" that "need us," Ingraham told The Free Beacon, "I didn't really think all that much about adoption until I adopted," but she found her passion for the cause after adopting three children of her own — two boys from Russia and a girl from Guatemala. She said she hopes Adopt a New Attitude reveals to the public what the "great light of adoption [is]." Granted, this isn't necessarily an "untold truth," given that Ingraham literally created a very public organization to bring awareness to a cause, but in January 2017, Russian officials signalled that they were "ready for dialogue" on the issue, and that there was potential for "everything" to be "changed back" to how conditions were prior to the ban. If Ingraham's initiative had even the slightest impact on that turnaround, it's something that deserves some attention.

Don't knock the Hussle

Laura Ingraham stoked the flames of controversy once more when she addressed the late rapper and former gang member Nipsey Hussle's death. Hussle was murdered on March 31, 2019 outside his Los Angeles retail store The Marathon Clothing, according to TMZ. He was shot multiple times in what is believed to have been a gang-related incident.

So, what was Ingraham's ... angle? According to USA Today, she seemed to think it was hilarious. In a March 12, 2019 segment of her show, Ingraham laughed and joked along with guest Raymond Arroyo about a memorial service held for Hussle. Sarcastically referring to the slain rapper as "this dear artist," Ingraham played a clip from a music video for the song "FDT," a derogatory rap takedown of President Donald Trump by fellow rapper YG. While Hussle was featured on the track, he did not appear in the clip Ingraham played. This did not sit well with Hussle's friends in the hip-hop community.

Rapper The Game called for Ingraham's immediate termination, threatening a widespread boycott of her sponsors if it didn't happen. T.I. also chimed in, calling Ingraham and Arroyo "vile despicable, poor excuses for people." R&B star Tank also voiced his disgust by calling the controversial Fox News host disrespectful, and sharing a link to a petition to fire her, which quickly surpassed its goal by over 41,600 signatures.  

As of this writing, neither Ingraham nor Fox News has commented on the backlash.

Laura Ingraham's thoughts on Greta Thunberg didn't sit well with a family member

Clearly, Laura Ingraham is no fan of liberal teen activists. But she may have saved arguably her worst attack for Greta Thunberg, the teen climate change activist and Time's 2019 Person of the Year, who "inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike ... in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history."

Ingraham was apparently unimpressed by the achievement. During an episode of The Ingraham Angle that aired three days after the historic worldwide protest, the conservative host compared Thunberg to the fictional teen cult in Stephen King's classic Children of the Corn. "The adults who've brainwashed these kids should be brought up on charges of child abuse," Ingraham said (via The Washington Post). "Does anyone else find that chilling?" she added, "I can't wait for Stephen King's sequel, Children of the Climate." Yikes.

Predictably, she faced instant backlash over her comments, the harshest of which came from her brother, Curtis Ingraham. While that sounds shocking, keep in mind Curtis had previously called Laura "a monster," and publicly shamed advertisers on her show. After Laura's Thunberg slam, Curtis headed to Twitter and didn't hold back. "Clearly my sister's paycheck is more important than the world her three adopted kids will inherit," he wrote. "I can no longer apologize for a sibling who I no longer recognize. I can and will continue to call out the monstrous behavior and the bully commentary born out of anger." We assume Thanksgiving is fun for their family members.

What happened to Laura Ingraham's podcast?

Dubbed "the most-listened-to woman in America on political talk radio," Ingraham left her radio show in 2018 to launch a podcast on the PodcastOne network. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Ingraham claimed that hosting a prime-time television show and a three-hour radio show was just too much for her as a single parent of three.

However, almost a year later, the podcast no longer exists. According to the Daily Beast, her last broadcast was on Sept. 30, 2019, and no new episodes have dropped since. "And yet, on her official website, Ingraham has continued advertising and selling auto-renewable $49.95/year subscriptions for a podcast that apparently no longer exists," the publication reported. Sources told the Daily Beast in October that the show would be "coming back," but Ingraham and her executive producer ignored requests for comment, and the podcast was scrubbed from her Twitter bio.

In Dec. 2019, PodcastOne confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Ingraham's podcast was over, and that her deal with them had expired. "Our podcast was always available free of charge, and we are not aware of this being part of any paid package," the company said in a statement.

In fairness to Ingraham, the membership package once offered on her website said it includes not only the podcast, but also "commercial-free archives of Laura's radio show," "exclusive members only audio," private message boards, and "access to Laura's commentary."