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Whitney Houston: Revisiting her 'Crack is whack' interview

February 17, 2012|By Rene Lynch
  • Singer Whitney Houston was interviewed by ABC's Diane Sawyer at Houston's home in Atlanta in November 2002.
Singer Whitney Houston was interviewed by ABC's Diane Sawyer at Houston's… (ABC handout )

Whitney Houston's drug history is getting lots of media folks in trouble this week. Popular Southern California radio hosts John & Ken were suspended this week for suggesting she was a crackhead. And a Fox News commentator is in hot water for referring to Houston's use of a crack pipe.

Here's the thing: Although Houston publicly acknowledged having used drugs, the late singer denied ever using crack cocaine.

In fact, Houston famously suggested that crack was a cheap, trashy drug that was beneath her and her spending abilities.

Houston made the comments in a 2002 interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer. The interview was both hotly anticipated and widely watched because Sawyer asked (gently) the questions that were on America's mind.

Many feared that one of the country's most beloved pop princesses had fallen under the controlling grip of then-husband Bobby Brown. Why had she grown so thin? Why did it seem as if she were constantly canceling gigs and disappointing fans? Could the problems be caused by drugs?

Houston insisted that Brown treated her like a lady, and that her health was fine. When pressed on her drug use, Houston admitted using alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and pills.

But she said she never used heroin -- and she literally came out of her seat with indignation at the suggestion she had used crack.

"First of all, let's get one thing straight,” an agitated Houston said in the video clip seen below. "Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let's get that straight. OK? We don't do crack. We don't do that. Crack is whack."

("Crack is Whack" references artist Keith Haring's famed mural.) You can read a transcript of the ABC interview here.

Despite those protests, Houston was dogged for years by rumors of crack use. Those rumors intensified after Houston, 48, was found dead last week in her Beverly Hills hotel room shortly before she was expected at a pre-Grammys event hosted by her long-time mentor Clive Davis.

The cause of Houston's death remains under investigation.

KFI's talk show hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou talked about reports of Houston's odd behavior before her death, with one of the pair saying: “It's like, ‘Ah Jesus . . . here comes the crack ho again, what’s she gonna do" and saying that Houston had been "cracked out for 20 years." "Really, it took this long?" they said, in reference to her death. The comments inflamed many listeners who thought they were insensitive.

Then, Fox News commentator Eric Bolling was taking Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) to task for a comment she made calling House Republican leadership "demons." Bolling objected by saying, "Congresswoman, you saw what happened to Whitney Houston." He added: "Step away from the crack pipe, step away from the Xanax, step away from the Lorazepam, because it's going to get you in trouble."

Those comments are now being blasted as irresponsible and despicable.

A funeral service is being held Saturday in Newark, N.J., for Houston. Among those scheduled to pay tribute to the singing legend will be Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Kevin Costner, who co-starred with Houston in 1992's "The Bodyguard."

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