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Aretha to Kathie Lee, 'Today': Show me some R-E-S-P-E-C-T

By Roland S. Martin, CNN Contributor
updated 2:54 AM EDT, Tue July 17, 2012
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, performs at the Fox Theatre on March 5 in Atlanta. She says folks young and old know her.
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, performs at the Fox Theatre on March 5 in Atlanta. She says folks young and old know her.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Aretha Franklin told CNN she'd like to be a judge on "American Idol"
  • Kathie Lee Gifford wonders whether younger people know Queen of Soul
  • Jason Kennedy of E! wonders whether she could go to auditions since she doesn't fly
  • Franklin retorts in e-mail sent to CNN: "Assessment is totally wrong!"

(CNN) -- Memo to Kathie Lee Gifford and the "Today" show from the Queen of Soul: Do some research before you talk about me!

During the fourth hour of NBC's morning show on Monday, co-hosts Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford were talking with E! correspondent Jason Kennedy about Aretha Franklin wanting to be a judge on "American Idol," a story which CNN first reported.

Gifford emphatically said today's generation of music lovers don't know who the 18-time Grammy Award winner is.

"If they are looking for a younger demographic, there are a lot of kids out there (who) actually don't know who Aretha Franklin is. It's sad, but they don't," Gifford said.

Then, Kennedy poured more cold water on the idea of Franklin doing the show, saying she doesn't like to fly and that will make it hard for her to travel across the country for auditions.

Kathie Lee Gifford attends the \
Kathie Lee Gifford attends the "Lysistrata Jones" Broadway opening on December 14, 2011, in New York.

"She does not fly. She needs to get over that (doing 'Idol')," he said.

A few hours later, Franklin responded in an e-mail, exclusively obtained by CNN. In it, she set the record -- and her critics at "Today" -- straight.

"While I enjoy Kathie Lee and Hoda daily, her assessment is totally wrong!" Franklin wrote.

"I've been to California from Detroit four times this year and Florida. I go wherever I choose to go comfortably on my custom bus.

"Further, my audience and fans span the age of 8 to 90! And are multi-ethnic, and I am very well known to young adults, tweens and teens. Their parents play my music and I take care of my business whenever I sign on the dotted line!

"I'm surprised Kathie Lee did not research my worldwide celebrity audience! She's usually right on top of things with a great sense of humor, but she's totally wrong this time. She should research me before she speaks about me. I'm sure she thought she was right; still enjoy Hoda and Kathie Lee!"

As for be a judge on "Idol," Franklin made it clear she's up for the task.

"I could enjoy being a judge for a season or two. Let's kick it up a few notches and have a slammin', jammin' season," she wrote.

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