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Final Farewell to Whitney Houston
Aired February 20, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.
The real Whitney Houston - her role as sister, daughter and mother took center stage at her funeral. Her friends are here to talk about her legacy.
Plus, are insensitive comments about her inappropriate? And what about the racist Jeremy Lin headline? Has good taste gone out the window or has political correctness gone too far?
Let`s get started.
Good evening and welcome to the program.
Now, I`ve been spending a good deal of time looking at Whitney Houston and her substance history and some of the psychiatric struggles she has had.
Tonight, I want to look at the woman that the people that knew her loved the most. Exactly what was this that we all saw evidence of at the funeral this weekend. She`s arguably one of the greatest singers of a generation, but to the Houston Family, she was a mother, a daughter, a sister.
This weekend as they laid her to rest, adoring fans like those in New York`s PS22 Choir led their voices in tribute. Take a look.
(PS22 CHOIR SINGING "I FOUND THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You feel such awesome pain and yet joy. The pain is the suddenness of Whitney`s transition. And yet she lived (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And everyone on the program were people that were involved in her life, we all were there. I think it was dignified and I think it`s really brought back to the roots of Whitney Houston. She returned back to where she started.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It still, you know, moves us, you know, just to be out here, you know, sharing, you know, our memories of Whitney Houston.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love her. She`ll always be in our hearts. We lost an angel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A celebration of life. OK, she`s gone but she`s never forgotten. Whitney will always, always be in my heart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I found out that she was dead, it was kind of like a part of me also died along with her.
DARLENE LOVE, GODMOTHER TO WHITNEY HOUSTON: It was a perfect God- given gift that she had and there will never be another one, you know? And we`re not even looking for another one, because she`s it.
WYCLEF JEAN, SINGER: What I want people to concentrate on is her natural warmth for humanity.
PS22 CHOIR: We love you, Whitney.
PINSKY: Pastor Marvin Winans, the spiritual adviser of the family, delivered Whitney`s eulogy. He spoke about this little girl that he knew as "Nippy."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PASTOR MARVIN WINANS, SPIRITUAL ADVISER TO THE HOUSTON FAMILY: We loved her when she was Nippy in New Jersey. The world loves her because of her voice, but if Nippy could not sing, the Houston Family would love her, and I knew that Mama Houston would do it the way she wanted it done. We`re going to church and we`re not going to be worried about if the world can get in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Marvet Britto and her sister Cherelle Norton have known Whitney for two decades. Cherelle was a very close friend. Cherelle, take us inside the church. What was it like in there?
CHERELLE NORTON, LONGTIME FRIEND OF WHITNEY HOUSTON: Oh, it was beautiful. It was - it was definitely Whitney`s spirit all through the room. And it was a home going that we all must go to, you know, one day. It was one of the - it was like doves just flying around. It was a beautiful - it was a beautiful home going.
PINSKY: Did people feel as though they had sort of lost track of Whitney over the years? That this was - they kept calling it a homecoming or a home going, and it certainly was home spun, and there were people that really knew and loved her. Did people have regrets and guilt and feel as though they lost her in recent years? NORTON: No, I don`t think so. I don`t think so. I think what people - you know, I think people just want to miss Whitney Houston, the singer, the songstress, and I think people are going to actually miss Nippy the mother, the friend, the sister, you know, the auntie.
PINSKY: Now, HLN`s Ryan Smith recently attended a tribute to Whitney Houston outside of her elementary school, and spoke to her former principal. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY HAMITON, WHITNEY HOUSTON`S FORMER ELEMENTARY PRINCIPAL: Haven`t had too much sleep to be honest with you, and sometimes tears come out of my eyes, you know, just thinking about it. I try not to become too emotional. She was a beautiful person, beautiful singer, and we all loved her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I think that I could achieve whatever I want, like, just like she did.
RYAN SMITH, HLN HOST, "IN SESSION" (voice-over): And now the town of East Orange is united in remembrance of a beautiful young lady they all knew as Nippy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And today that school is actually named after Whitney Houston.
Marvet, it seems that Whitney Houston had almost an uncanny effect on the people that knew her the closest.
MARVET BRITTO, HOUSTON FAMILY FRIEND: I think she did. It really, that service was so symbolic of everything that Whitney represented, when you talk about her roots, she never left her roots at all. I think that she carried the light, the illumination of the light of her faith really carried her through every dark moment in her life.
And I think that church and the service and the words were just reflective of who Whitney Houston really was and what she truly meant to every individual whose life she touched personally and whose life she touched through song.
PINSKY: Cherelle, Kevin Costner seemed to have really touched a cord. He actually got a standing ovation, I believe if I remember right, after he spoke. What was that he spoke to that you think resonated most for people?
NORTON: You know what I think it was, I think it was when he said, you know what, you`re great. Greatness was - greatness, it was all around her. It wasn`t just that she was good enough, but that she had greatness.
PINSKY: You know what was interesting, Marvet, taking it back to Kevin Costner again, he - you know, in a really home going funeral, there`s always a little bit of humor. And he kind of brought the humor, saying that he and Whitney, just same person, he is white, he`s a male, but overlook all of that.
But he was - but he was saying something about the universal appeal of Whitney and what she touched in people, wasn`t he?
BRITTO: Absolutely. I think that he really showed the world that regardless of color, regardless of class that there could be similarities in people, even if you don`t see the outward similarities by your eye.
And I think his words were so profound, so genuine, so compelling. But more importantly he spoke of the support system that everyone exhibited, every person who met Whitney really knew and saw a greatness in her that I believe the world saw, but he communicated it in a way that everyone understood and it resonated big and large.
Her life, she lived a big life. She had a big voice. And I think she left a big impact in the life of every person who knew her. And I think for Kevin, he really showed and displayed a sense of humility and sense of humor that we all really just were impacted by greatly. It was very profound. And even at the repast, almost every person walked up to him and said that they were really moved by his words.
PINSKY: I agree, Marvet, it`s that communion he had with her that we were all sharing with him as we watched that church ceremony.
And Cherelle, you have had intimate moments with Whitney. What`s your most - what`s the most memorable thing you carry with you in your heart?
NORTON: You know, the fondest - the most fondest thing that I carry as I was going through a transition at one time in my life and she looked at me and she held me, and she said - she said, sister, this is what I`m going to give you. She gave me a scripture, and she said everything - everything is right there. Everything that I can give you is right there in this scripture, and I will never forget that and it changed my life.
PINSKY: Well, ladies, we - you`re staying with me.
And next up, Whitney and her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, we`re going to take a look at that relationship when we get back. So please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(WHITNEY HOUSTON SINGING "MY LOVE IS YOUR LOVE")
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITNEY HOUSTON, SINGER: She has something to say. Go ahead, let me hear it.
BOBBI KRISTINA, DAUGHTER OF WHITNEY HOUSTON: My name is Bobbi Kristina. Just want to say clap your hands!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: That was Whitney Houston singing "My Love Is Your Love" when then very young daughter Bobbi Kristina was at her side.
And whatever controversy surrounded Whitney`s life, there`s no doubt about her great love with Bobbi Kristina. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOUSTON: You know, somehow motherhood, being a mother, period, you kind of stop living for yourself and start living for your children, you know.
Everything that I do, everything that I think, everything that I say, Bobbi Kristina is on my mind when I do it.
All the people that you love kind of come into play. Bobby Kris is in my heart, so she was always there, she`s always there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Sheryl Lee Ralph is the author of "Redefining Diva." She has been following Whitney Houston`s career from the beginning. Marvet Britto and her sister Cherelle Norton have known Whitney for two decades. Cherelle is a very close friend.
But I want to welcome Sheryl to the set here and say, you know, I - I watched the funeral over the weekend and I was quite moved by it. And I thought, there, that`s Whitney, I get it now.
SHERYL LEE RALPH, AUTHOR, "REDEFINING DIVA": That was the absolute foundation of who she was as a woman. That is what she came from. That is what her mother came from, what her mother`s mother came from, and they passed that onto her.
The fact that she had a scripture to share with Cherelle doesn`t surprise any of us because that is what she came from.
PINSKY: That church, that community, those people.
RALPH: That bond of religion. You know, the black church for a lot of us girds us up, to get ready to go out there and gave her that voice. When she said I look to you, I look to you, when all my strength is gone, I look to where I came from. I look to the people who believed in me when I was Nippy, when I wasn`t the diva, when I wasn`t the goddess. I looked to you because God is my strength and my firm foundation.
PINSKY: Let me - let me be honest. I - I get emotional when I hear you say that. And when I was watching it, I was actually jealous.
PINSKY: I was actually - I thought that, wow, that is a profound community.
RALPH: Yes. That is why so often, you know, during the Grammy`s, and Cherelle knows this, there was some controversy. People were saying at the Grammy`s, why are so many of these black artists thanking God. I thank god, I thank - I thank my redeemer. I thank my savior, because so many of us know what we have come through to get to this point, so before all, I thank God.
PINSKY: But with God this also means with that community.
PINSKY: Yes. And that`s the part that I felt, like wow, that`s powerful.
RALPH: Because you know what`s interesting about this, and I couldn`t watch the home going. But -
PINSKY: It was tough.
RALPH: It was - yes, I just couldn`t do it, you know, with all of that, you can drop low. You can drop lower than low, but if you got a church family, there is never too low for them not to take you back. Never.
PINSKY: Cherelle, do you guys resonate what Sheryl is saying?
NORTON: We agree.
BRITTO: We agree. Sheryl, I love you for that.
PINSKY: You can stand up if you want to, ladies. I am practically getting out of my chair again here. But, yes, she speaks the truth it seems like.
BRITTO: It absolutely is true because no matter how far we stray or no matter how - how low we ever fall, we know we can always rely on our faith in God and always rely on the people who had been there for us in our highs and our lows.
And I think it could not have been more befitting. We could have - I mean, they could have had Whitney`s service anywhere and there could have been a number of dignitaries, but everyone spoke of one common theme, and that was her undying, unyielding faith that she carried with her throughout everything she did.
PINSKY: And I got to tell you again, is just this - the guy looking in through the window, it seemed like everyone in the room shared in the same connection. All the people sitting behind the podium -
RALPH: That`s right.
PINSKY: -- people in the pews, and even I - I`m being emotional, gees. It was very intense.
RALPH: It was like that.
PINSKY: Yes, it was. And even the way Kevin Costner was embraced to be a part of this.
PINSKY: I wonder if he felt that same thing.
RALPH: I`m sure he had to feel it.
RALPH: There was no way you could not have felt it. Like I said, I couldn`t watch it, you know, the whole thing, but for a lot of people who did not know what church was about, for a lot of people who had not been to church, they found church on Saturday. They experienced it. Folks wanted to be in church on Sunday.
PINSKY: I think you`re right. I actually think you`re right.
All right. Let`s talk a little about - I hear you ladies laughing in the background there, but she speaks - I think she`s right. Whitney shared a special bond with her mom, Cissy Houston. And we`re going to talk a little about that and how that influenced her relationship with Bobbi Kristina. So take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOUSTON: My mother used to always tell me, "above all to thine own self be true." And that`s kind of like what I want to teach Bobbi Kris, you know, be true to yourself. You can fool people, you can fool anybody any time of the day, but you can`t fool yourself. At night when you go home, you got to be straight up with you and know when stuff is good and when stuff is bad, you know, and deal with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Cherelle, tell us about that relationship between Whitney and her mom.
NORTON: You know, Whitney and Mommy Cissy was a bond no one could ever break. And when I say that, I`m talking about in truth and in faith. And one thing she would tell her daughter, and she would probably tell anybody else, too, is that we all - the common denominator here is serving the one thing together and that`s serving the Lord Jesus Christ, and she believed in that, and she believed in truth, and she believed in being in alignment with God.
So, you know, when it comes to the bond with Cissy, and - and I say Mom and Nippy, oh, my God, it`s one of those things you would wish every child had. And when a mom can teach you and parent you in truth, in Christ and in truth, you couldn`t ask for anything, you couldn`t ask for anything else but that.
PINSKY: And Sheryl, what was then put down on, that`s a similar relationship that Whitney had with Bobbi Kristina.
RALPH: You see it. You see it. You know, the fact that - the great love that she had with her mother, that bond, you can see it replicated in the great love that she passes onto her daughter. You can only pass on what you`ve been taught. You can only teach what you really know.
Now, it is for Bobbi Kristina to have the firm foundation that she moves forward with her mother`s strengths and not the weakness.
PINSKY: Right. She needs to break that cycle.
PINSKY: That she could continue if she`s not careful.
PINSKY: The book you wrote about divas, does that give you any special insight into what went on with Whitney?
RALPH: You know, I speak - I talk a lot about, you know, fame and what it`s like to be in show business, in "Redefining Diva." But if you look at Whitney Houston, she was diva, because diva in its original sense was goddess. That larger than life spirit.
But my kind of diva is divine Whitney Houston. My kind of diva is inspiring Whitney Houston. My kind of diva is victorious.
PINSKY: My kind of diva, though, is human.
RALPH: I love it.
PINSKY: And she had all of that, too.
PINSKY: And that`s the part people have to kind of incorporate and give her all of those other things and let her be human also.
RALPH: And she was also anointed.
PINSKY: How`s that?
RALPH: Yes, anointed. A chosen woman, a chosen human woman. Whitney gave us so much in life and she continued to give us that in death.
PINSKY: I agree with you. And this - even this conversation I feel like is infused with something a little bit special -
PINSKY: -- and it`s because of her we`re having that.
PINSKY: Thank you, Sheryl -
RALPH: Diva redefined.
PINSKY: -- and Cherelle and Marvet, thank you all.
RALPH: My sisters.
PINSKY: Yes, I appreciate (INAUDIBLE).
NORTON: We love you.
PINSKY: Next up, Whitney Houston`s legacy. I`m hoping and I think you all are as well that her talent and these gifts that she has left us will be the legacy that she leaves behind. And the human piece that we all want to struggle with, maybe we`ll learn from that but we`ll remember the greatness. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(WHITNEY HOUSTON SINGING "I LOOK TO YOU")
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: That incredible voice. We will miss it.
And Sheryl and I were talking just as second off the air about how that`s Whitney Houston, and that the other part of her that was possessing her towards the end.
RALPH: That`s right.
PINSKY: People didn`t understand that they were talking to something that you have to speak to totally differently.
RALPH: That`s the truth.
PINSKY: It`s a different person in that condition. You can get the old one back.
The 2009 interview with Oprah shows you, there she is, again and she had come back, but she drifts out.
PINSKY: And you`ve got to hmm.
PINSKY: And people don`t know. They just don`t know how to talk to that.
RALPH: You got it right there.
RALPH: People do not know. When somebody is a drug addict, when somebody has an addiction, they are not themselves.
PINSKY: They are not themselves. Not at all.
RALPH: And I think in some part we all let Whitney down in some ways, and I think that we`re all continuing to let down so many in our communities by not being - we`re not informed. We don`t have the proper information, and if we don`t have those things, how can we help them properly?
PINSKY: Not only that, Sheryl, you`re absolutely right, but they`re so powerful, that condition so powerful, you have to be able to stand so firm against it, you have to be unified.
RALPH: That`s right.
PINSKY: But that`s for another conversation.
I want to introduce Joe Levy, he`s the contributing editor of "Rolling Stone" Magazine. Joe, you have profiled many of the greats. Where does Whitney rank?
JOE LEVY, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "ROLLING STONE" MAGAZINE: Well, certainly as one of the great pop singers of the last 20 or 30 years, someone who taught the current generation how to sing, who set the bar in pop music that we see others following.
Beyonce has said that Whitney opened the door for her, and there are many others as well, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, even Lady Gaga has talked about how as a kid she was obsessed with the 1991 recording of "The Star Spangled Banner."
And so any time you see a young woman take a microphone, whether she`s a professional or she`s on "American Idol," and begin to sing an R&B or soul and pop song, you`re really hearing what Whitney codified on her first two records.
PINSKY: So she really set the standard. And Joe, Sheryl Lee said to me something very profound just now that we let Whitney down, and I think everyone did.
Are there others out there we`re letting down as well, we have to stop this here now? Or do you share her sort of perception on this?
LEVY: Well, Drew, I think you`re better able to speak to this than I am, quite frankly. Because I`m sure that there are others we are letting down. Exactly what we can do, our end of the bargain I can`t say.
In the entertainment industry, substance abuse is an issue and it has been for decades, and it`s very, very easy to lose the person as you were saying because of all the other people who surround that individual. There`s an entourage that depends on anyone in the entertainment industry continuing to work. And it makes it very difficult to get a message of support through.
PINSKY: That`s exactly right, Joe. Joe, I appreciate those comments.
And Sheryl Lee, I hope you come back soon.
RALPH: Thank you very much.
PINSKY: It`s really my pleasure, really, truly.
Coming up, I`m going to answer your questions. So, again, it`s an open forum section. You can ask anything you want.
And later, the line between free speech and bad taste. Why some people very publicly trashed Whitney Houston. If you want to sound off about this or anything else you see here, go to HLNTV.com. Back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Coming up, where do we draw the line when it comes to racist versus free speech? Who defines what`s insensitive or truly offensive and should anyone be punished for speaking his or her mind?
Whitney Houston`s death has generated all kinds of direct, and sometimes, controversial remarks. We`ll take a look at that.
And, all American NBA star, Jeremy Lin, is becoming a sensation. Was it only a matter of time until someone took a cheap shot about his Asian heritage?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): You know, over the weekend, I actually called my executive producer and said, you know, this interests me, the fact that Whitney has created insensitive kinds of dialogue, and the Lin controversy bothered me. I wanted to kind of get into it. So, we`re going to, here, have a dialogue about the sensitive issue of insensitive comments.
But first, I`m going to answer your questions about anything. So, let`s get to the phones here. First off, I`ve got Kit in Pennsylvania. Go ahead, Kit.
KIT, PENNSYLVANIA: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Kit.
KIT: Can you please explain to us more about the addiction and the chemistry of the brain? Most people aren`t familiar with addiction, and they think after rehab it`s OK to maybe have one beer, a whiskey, or to take prescription medication.
PINSKY: Right. Have you had a personal experience with this yourself, someone in your family?
KIT: Within my family, yes, over the years.
PINSKY: And you saw them trying to try it their way, we say. You know, going out and trying it again. Yes.
PINSKY: And sometimes, you know, before I tell you about the chemistry, Kit, I got to say, sometimes, you have to let people go try it their way, because you have to prove to themselves that you can`t do that. The really sad thing is that, sometimes, it`s dangerous when they go do that. I mean, that`s kind of what Whitney was doing, it went too far, and that`s what can happen.
Let me just give you a little bit (ph) of what this is. There are several candidate genes that have been isolated that are associated with this thing we call addiction. Addiction we defined as a biological disorder with a genetic basis. The hallmark, progressive use in the face of adverse consequences.
You don`t have to be down and out alcoholic in the street, you just have consequences and a family history, and then denial. Denial is a defining creature of the condition. And if you have this, we know for sure you have a disorder in a certain part of the brain called the medio forebrain bundle.
I don`t want to bore everybody with this, but it`s a part of the brain that really determines motivation, your desires, your hunger so to speak. I mean, think about that. That`s beneath consciousness, it`s beneath reason. It`s beneath emotions. It`s our most primitive sort of drive system becomes usurped, and every priority becomes using, even though you may not be thinking about it.
Thinking, then becomes -- comes to service the drive. We call that stinking thinking. In other words, you start thinking it`s a good idea to go visit people and places where you used (ph). It sounds a great idea. I haven`t seen Jill in a long time. Well, she was her dealer. I just haven`t seen her so long. She was such a good friend, not thinking I want to use, not being aware of any drive or hunger, it`s just there motivating all the time.
And of course, they start thinking it`s a good idea to see a doctor for anxiety, for sleeplessness. I was on Bill Maher show last week or on Friday night, I guess, still airing this week, talking about how sleeplessness is a big trigger for people. It sure is. Anxiety is a trigger. Pain is a trigger or just, hey, I should be able to have a drink because our culture doesn`t deal with alcohol as a problem really at all.
It puts it on a plain with food. And the fact is, if you want to pick the number one drug in our culture, it is alcohol. So, naturally, they fall victim to those cultural biases. I hope I didn`t bore anybody with that.
Lauren writes -- is on Facebook. "Why don`t you discuss the folks that suffer on a daily basis from illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain? We suffer but are unable to get meds we need because of drug addicts." That is not true. Doctors are very carefully trained to treat pain, I`m sorry. In fact, there are various sorts of consequences, let`s say, of a doctor not adequately treating pain.
In fact, that`s how we get in trouble as physicians, sometimes, giving the pain medication to drug addicts that the addicts know exactly what to say to push these liabilities, to push the issue. And the fact is pain management is a big thing. It`s complicated. I`m kind of avoiding the topic.
As when you put pain and addiction together, it gets very, very, very complicated. But, believe me, people with pain are getting treatment these days.
Julie on Facebook has this question. "The degrading and downright vile attacks on Whitney Houston`s character since her death is nothing short of appalling to me. People judging people with wrath I have seldom witnessed before. What is it in the human spirit that makes for such incredible lack of empathy towards somebody with addiction?"
Yes. I think, actually, what you`re asking is something rather profound, which is, I believe, I actually wrote a book on this, but the fact is in there I was studied this rather carefully. And I believe when we are in crowds, when we are in, you know, human mass behavior, we tend to elevate people. We tend to put them on a pedestal, right? We create superstars and there`s sort of deities of a sort.
And, we like to knock them down. We like to almost engage in what in a more primitive time would have been a human sacrifice. I`m certain of it. I mean, you look throughout human history, human sacrifice was always in there, and it would galvanize people, would keep them together, would elevate one, and then, they would tear that one down, and they would galvanize the group against the one.
And I think we have that in us, and it`s very primitive, and particularly these days, a lot of narcissistic kinds of structure to our personality which makes more of this, so people say horrible, hateful things. And that`s actually what I want to talk about in the next segment.
Another Facebook, Savera, I think is her name, writes, "Is it possible to become an accidental addict to benzodiazepine due to tolerance and brutal effects of trying to withdraw from them?"
Yes, for sure, it`s very easy to become dependent on them. That is to say that we -- you start using them, you start needing more you get the effect, you have withdrawal to try to stop, that does not mean you`re an addict, it means you`re dependent. An addict, when you take that person off the drugs, will be permanently altered. Their drive system altered.
As I told you about in the beginning of the segment, such that they`ll always be moving back towards using again. Things and places and persons bring them back to using, while a non-addict will go, that was awful. That was miserable. Anyway, what`s for dinner? They`ll be the same again as before they went through the withdrawal.
Do we have any phones out there? Yes, we`ve got -- back to Whitney Houston, we`ve got Karen from upland. She`s on the phone. Karen, go right ahead.
KAREN: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Karen.
KAREN: I agree with the comments about Whitney being insensitive and very well not thought out to say the least.
KAREN: But unfortunately, these deejays are not the first one to have said something like that, especially in the media.
KAREN: It happens on daily and hourly basis --
PINSKY: Karen, I`m going to interrupt you. Do you mean about Whitney or about just people in general saying insensitive things?
KAREN: About people in general, but more specifically, about Whitney. The media created this crack is whack character of her, and then, the deejays now have spoken out about it and says what has been created a character that they created in the media.
PINSKY: You know, you`re brining up -- this has been a very good conversation. I hope this isn`t bored people, because I love this material. Karen, you bring up a great point, which is that people in the media that have a public persona tend to be made into cartoon characters. That tends to be the way we kind of consume them.
In fact, when I was doing "Celebrity Rehab," and I have the celebrities` room (ph), the one thing they would always say is that I feel like I`m a cartoon character. I`m not feel like I`m myself, and they would be -- the celebrities often were duplicities. They would participate in it, because they would get sort of, you know, they get more media play out of being a cartoon character as opposed to being a human.
I`m not saying Whitney did that. I`m saying that we tend to do that with people in the media, and it`s not fair. And I hope Sheryl Lee in our last segment got you to humanize her a little bit and really get in touch with the bigger picture here. Let`s not be primitive. Let`s not be primitive. Let`s not engage in these sort of sacrificial impulses, let`s look at the human being involved here.
Now, we keep hearing rumors about Bobbi Kristina doing drugs after the funeral when her mom died. What is your take on her situation? That`s a, I guess, Facebook viewer comment. Look, if Bobbi Kristina was doing drugs, my only hope and wish is that she gets help. We need to break this cycle. She`s a lovely young girl. She has the chance to get well and to flourish. She has to have professional help, though.
It won`t be sufficient to circle the wagons and just to bring her into the family system, and unfortunately, that wonderful church community will be very important, but not sufficient for her to get better. She got to have professional help, and I hope they do that.
Thank you to all of you for calling. Thank you guys, and thank you for writing us as well.
Next up, what`s OK to say these days, something we`ve been talking about already tonight. Is it OK to criticize Whitney Houston so soon after her death and the way they do it? We`re going to talk more about that after the break.
And, why NBA star, Jeremy Lin, is a target for some? So, don`t go away.
PINSKY: What`s the difference between hate speech, racism, insensitivity, and just plain expressing an opinion? Couple of incidents this past week have us asking this question. Watch this, then we`ll talk about it.
PINSKY (voice-over): Two popular Los Angeles radio personalities were suspended after saying this after Whitney Houston`s death.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here comes the crack ho again, what`s she going to do? Oh, look at that, she`s doing hand stands next to the pool. Very good crack ho.
PINSKY: The station that employs them says it does not condone, support or tolerate statements of this kind. The hosts acknowledge that their comments were inappropriate. They apologize to the Houston Family.
John and Ken aren`t the first talkers to trash public figures and others. Howard Stern was suspended indefinitely in 2004 for violating decency standards. And radio icon, Don Imus, was fired in 2007 after a derogatory comment about members of the Rutgers women`s basketball team.
Then, there`s the Jeremy Lin controversy. The New York Knicks star has powered the team to impressive wins in all but one game in the past week and a half. He is the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese dissent to play in the NBA. An ESPN anchor called that single performance a, quote, "chink in the armor," unquote.
That same headline was on the screen for 35 minutes, and it also showed up on ESPN.com, the ESPN mobile app. ESPN radio said it, too. Obviously, the phrase is a slur. The headline writer was fired. He says he had used those words many times in the past, but not in this context. The TV anchor was suspended.
And "Saturday Night Live" weighed in over the weekend with its own version of Lin-sanity in a skit that had millions laughing.
PINSKY: Joining me, Attorney Lauren Lake, also, Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic Hope which stands for helping oppressed people everywhere, and conservative blogger, Andrew Breitbart. I want to remind people that it was John and Ken, the L.A. radio host, they`re very powerful influences here in Los Angeles and in California, and they`re the ones we heard calling Whitney that slur.
Andrew, you know these guys. Are the suspensions justified?
ANDREW BREITBART, CONSERVATIVE BLOGGER: I think that there needs to be one standard out there, and that`s the problem with political correctness, that there are these extortion groups, cultural extortion groups, that want to take down John and Ken because of how effective they are in terms of politics.
There`s a guy by the name of (INAUDIBLE) who`ve worked with media matters, and their goal is to get them kicked off the air. They`ve taken excerpt like that, played it out of context, interpreted in the worst possible fashion, and the idea is to instill fear into their advertisers.
PINSKY: So, you`re thing is that it`s not this specific slur, it was just an opportunity to promote an agenda.
BREITBART: That`s exactly what happened in this particular instance.
NAJEE ALI, DIRECTOR, PROJECT ISLAMIC HOPE: I would disagree.
PINSKY: Were you part of the team that attacked or spoke out about Ken and John?
ALI: I was one of the activists who`ve spoken out against John and Ken, because this is not the first time they said something that was dumb, something that was inappropriate, and something that was wrong.
Any time you can call Whitney Houston a crack ho, then mock her death, that caused a tremendous amount of pain and anger to Whitney Houston`s fans, her supporters, and her loved ones. And certainly, they need to be held accountable for what they said.
PINSKY: So, did you write the radio station? Did you call?
ALI: We called the radio station, and the radio station did the right thing, and I commend them for this. They put them on a ten-day suspension, but I don`t think it goes far enough. I think they should be fired, because they`ve created a lot of pain and suffering.
BREITBART: Let me just show you how there`s a double standard.
PINSKY: Go ahead.
BREITBART: If you`re Condoleezza Rice, if you`re Allen West, if you`re any black conservative out there or Clarence Thomas, you`re called any number of names all day long in the mainstream media, you`re called an Uncle Tom, you`re called a sellout to your race, you`re called an Oreo, and I guarantee you, Najee Ali is not out there defending them and trying to get the people who have gone out and used those type of terms.
And I would argue that when you look at it, the shake down artists, people that do it the best, media matters who get people kicked off TV, do it because they do not have the correct politics.
ALI: I don`t know anything about media matters, but I do know about John and Ken. And they alienated a lot of people in Southern California, not just African-Americans, but Latinos, Asians --
PINSKY: In previous comments.
ALI: Previous comments, but I`ll take it one step further. The Clear Channel Station, which KFI is a member of, has no diversity whatsoever. So, Andrew, let me ask you a question. How many Black people work at KFI? How may Latino people work at KFI? How many Asians are talk show hosts?
BREITBART: This is what it comes down to. You have a political agenda, and you want --
ALI: They have zero which shows no diversity, no other voices.
PINSKY: Now, I`ve got to say that we here, at HLN, can`t confirm that, but I understand your opinion, and I will actually look into that to see. I want to get from Lauren Lake to see if she has an opinion about this. You`ve been listening, Laura. What do you think?
LAUREN LAKE, ATTORNEY: Patiently, Dr. Drew. And even though it`s been wonderful to watch two men argue over this situation, as a woman, I would like to say, I took offense not just because it was an insensitive time to make such a comment, that it was a ridiculous comment, a mean spirited comment, but also as a woman and as a Black woman in particular, I found it to be extremely derogatory.
And these type of comments, I don`t care what someone is talking about. We need to set one standard. I believe there is a standard. What matters is that the community has to make sure that all writers, disc jockeys, whoever else, adhere to that standard, meaning we`re not going to tolerate you saying things that are derogatory --
PINSKY: -- but I`m not sure that -- I understand where that standard is. I kind of get what Andrew is saying, that we have to set that standard. Can you clarify that for me?
LAKE: I just believe that the standard is that we have to be more sensitive, racially sensitive, gender sensitive, sensitive to sexual orientation. There is a fine line that people walk. And I will admit with you guys that making money and becoming popular is usually about almost crossing that line and not getting in trouble for it.
But I think what we have to understand is that the standard exists in terms of the community setting it and letting people know. This is as far as we`re going to go. We`re hitting a tipping point and a slippery slope where people are crossing the line far too often, and we need to reel this back in. I think calling someone, you know, an Oreo or an Uncle Tom is inappropriate as well. It`s inappropriate as well, I`m sorry.
PINSKY: Thank you, Laura. I`m going to give you each like 20 seconds. Andrew, it is kind of moving target.
BREITBART: I would say this. I like Chris Rock, I like Sarah Silverman, I like George Carlin, I like satire that`s hard hitting.
PINSKY: The reverend.
BREITBART: The reverend. Sticks and stones may break my bones. The idea that we`re so hypersensitive, we need desensitivity training not desensitively training.
PINSKY: Najee, 20 seconds, last word.
ALI: Well, I would say this, at the end of the day, I want John and Ken fired. I think we do need to hold people who make those statements accountable. You just can`t make these statements, and then, say you`re sorry and expect us to forgive you.
PINSKY: One thing I will say, though, sometimes, it`s about building your friends. And sometimes, your friends misspeak and know who your friends are and who are not your friends, and maybe educate your friends. Sometimes, I think that`s a mistake when people don`t do that, but we`ll talk more about this.
My guests stay with me after the break. So the question is, are we becoming too serious? Reality check is up from "Saturday Night Live." You`ll want to see it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carmelo is going see Lin in the locker room and be like excuse me, are we playing pinball here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he may not see him at all, because my homie Carmelo rolls in late.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: We are discussing the two Los Angeles radio hosts suspended for comments they made about Whitney Houston and the uproar over ESPN`s racist headline written and spoken about New York Knicks sensation, Jeremy Lin. Lin was the focus of a skit on SNL this weekend. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That man is unstoppable. He`s like the sign said at Wednesday`s game, Lin is the Knicks good fortune.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sweet, not sour.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He turned Kobe into Kobe beef!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Kobe is like hey, I ordered fried chicken.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: All right. Now, here is what I question. Najee, I`ll start with you. It always bother me because when if I misspeak or stumble, I`ll get attacked by people that I consider my friends, that I`m friendly to, that I want to advocate the cause of, but because I didn`t tow the party line exactly as they haven`t written, they want to destroy me.
Isn`t it better to build your assets and sort of like, maybe, put an olive branch out to people that have been misspeaking and try to build them into people you want them to be?
ALI: Well, in some situations, I would agree with you, Dr. Drew, but other cases I disagree with you, because I think at the end of the day, John and Ken need to be accountable for what they see --
PINSKY: So, these two guys are in your crosshairs --
ALI: They in crosshairs along with other leaders throughout Southern California, because it`s not the first time they said something. They have a history of making racially tense comments. That`s why everyone is so outraged because they mocked Whitney Houston`s death. She can`t defend herself. So, it`s up to us to defend Whitney.
PINSKY: OK. Andrew.
BREITBART: It`s called the first amendment, and there`s money (INAUDIBLE). Najee makes money off of this. He makes a name --
ALI: I disagree. I don`t make any money --
BREITBART: This is how Al Sharpton got a show on MSNBC, looking for grievances out there like this, and the double standard couldn`t be greater. As I said earlier, you went after to get my friend, Larry Elder, a black conservative off of the air. There`s a political --
ALI: I`m one of the people that spoke up for Larry, one of my best friends. Do your research.
PINSKY: Doesn`t that SNL skit kind of put a little light on this, add the humor that we do --
BREITBART: They made racial jokes right there. Should they be taken off the air for making racist jokes? I would argue that it`s satire.
ALI: John and Ken didn`t do satire. They mocked a woman who`s dead and criticized her and called her a crack ho.
BREITBART: No. They were playing a character. They`re Clive Davis` character which you didn`t hear here. They were saying this is what`s going through Clive Davis` mind when they saw her. Was it potentially inappropriate? Let the audience decide.
ALI: Well, the station decided. The station decided put them on suspension.
BREITBART: That`s because the threat of economic boycott by groups like him.
PINSKY: Should the standard be harmed for the individual you`re speaking about? Should that be the standard if it harms them?
ALI: I think we just have to put things in context. I`m here for Whitney Houston. Some is saying John and Ken should be fired. They harmed her, but not only her, her fans, her loved ones, her family, her supporters.
PINSKY: Andrew, last word.
BREITBART: I just think that, you know, Jeremy Lin handled this the best possible way in this type of thing, and this is how these things should be taken, not trying to destroy people, like the guy at ESPN who made the stupid mistake.
BREITBART: He is a class act and he said I accept their apology and it should end at that.
PINSKY: Gentlemen, this is a conversation that will go on, no doubt. I want to remind everyone that Dina Lohan is our special guest tomorrow. And again, tune into HLNtv.com, log in that is to discuss any of these issues further. And of course, I`ll have my question and answer section tomorrow if you want to address these issues. And I`ll see you then. Thank you for watching.