Dr. Robi Ludwig gained a helping of public attention this past weekend for a remark she made on Jeanine Pirro’s program on Fox News. When asked what was going on inside the head of man who went on a shooting rampage near Santa Barbara, Ludwig, a “nationally known psychotherapist” and “award winning reporter,” responded with pointed speculation:
It’s so interesting. When I was first listening to him, I was like, “Oh, he’s angry with women for rejecting him.” And then I started to have a different idea. “Is this somebody who is trying to fight against his homosexual impulses?” Was he angry with women because they were taking away men from him? But this is a kid who couldn’t connect and felt enraged and wanted to obliterate anyone that made him feel like a nothing. That’s what this guy felt like.
Though Ludwig made her comments on the tundra of weekend cable news, the amplification chamber that devours such TV moments never rests. Postings that found Ludwig’s take noteworthy aren’t hard to find. On Slate, Mark Joseph Stern wrote that Ludwig’s point “is totally baseless, leaving us to wonder whether her comments were motivated less by professional expertise than by anti-gay animus.”
Ludwig claims that no such animus exists. In a Facebook posting, she writes that she was “misunderstood.”
In a chat this afternoon with the Erik Wemple Blog, Ludwig sounded distressed. “I’m a little bit paranoid to say anything because my words have been so twisted,” she said. “I’m deeply hurt that it was taken this way by some of the people that heard it,” she noted, adding that anti-gay views are just not part of her “mental landscape.” When asked to explain what she was thinking, Ludwig claimed that Rodger was “a very disturbed man and nobody goes on a spree like this without having serious psychological impairment and difficulties on multiple levels. That’d be true of anybody,” no matter who they may be. “I am so saddened by this situation and, you know, if there was a way to fix it, I would love to do that.”
On her bio, Ludwig calls herself a “regular contributor to the Today Show as well as CNN, Headline News, The Fox News Channel and TruTv where she talks about psychological/lifestyle issues as well as the criminal mind.” Her use of the term “contributor” appears to be colloquial. In the TV industry, it generally means a paid commentator with steady appearances on air. CNN and NBC News tell the Erik Wemple Blog that she is not that kind of contributor, and Fox News has made the same point. Also in her bio, Ludwig claims to have earned her doctorate in psychology from the Southern California University for Professional Studies, “a traditional correspondence school.”
The missteps in this minor dustup are the property of cable news: People with not enough information were talking in some detail about a breaking news event and focusing on a question that was impossible to answer. Pirro’s inquiry to Ludwig, verbatim: “What’s going on in this kid’s head?” A good response from Ludwig would have been: I don’t know.
Meanwhile, the real estate world has been rocked by this television appearance. Prior to her comments to Pirro, Ludwig had served as the “lifestyle real estate correspondent” for Coldwell Banker, a position whose existence the Erik Wemple Blog couldn’t have fathomed. In that capacity, Ludwig apparently participated in articles like this one on the U.S. News & World Report site: “Should Kids Make Big Money Decisions?” Not really, concluded Ludwig: “They are kids — they are just thinking about themselves in the immediate now, and no good decision can be made that way. That’s where the adults come in. It’s really giving away your job as the adult in the family [to let kids make those decisions]. That’s not healthy, and it’s not fair,” she says.
No more insights of that sort from the Coldwell Banker correspondent. The company said in a Facebook posting today: “Dr. Robi’s comments on the tragedy in Santa Barbara do not represent the opinions of Coldwell Banker. Therefore at this time we feel it best to part ways with her as our lifestyle real estate correspondent.”