Radio-talk giant Dr. Laura Schlessinger blasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's proposal to launch a probe against opponents of the so-called Ground Zero mosque Wednesday, citing it as an example of "bullying" that is pushing America "in the direction of Russia" when it comes to freedom of speech."
In an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview, Dr. Laura explained her decision to sign off the radio waves. The best-selling author and family-values champion stunned friends and foes alike, announcing on CNN's Larry King show she will end her radio program when her current contract expires in December.
The news followed a media tempest stirred up by her neutral use of the N-word on her program. She observed that the epithet is commonly used in rap lyrics and on HBO. She also criticized a caller's "hypersensitivity" to race.
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Within hours, Schlessinger posted an apology on the Internet because her words had been hurtful, she said. It was more than a day later, however, that a media firestorm erupted.
Newsmax asked Schlessinger, who pens a monthly column for Newsmax Magazine and writes a Newsmax.com blog, if political correctness is endangering the right to freedom of speech.
Citing the recent call by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a probe into the funding sources of those opposed to construction of a Muslim community center and mosque about two blocks from the World Trade Center site attacked on 9/11, Schlessinger said: "Well, when you have Nancy Pelosi saying she's going to investigate the people who feel profoundly, deeply, that a mosque should not be on Ground Zero, I think you can see where the First Amendment rights are going. It's bullying and it's scary.
"We're going in the direction of Russia, for goodness sake, where if you say the wrong thing you're toast," she added. "I find it very alarming."
Schlessinger told Newsmax the furor over her use of the N-word in her effort to put a caller's remarks into context was "the last straw." But it is not the true reason she's decided to leave her long-time radio program, she said.
"I've been through this as every talk show has a zillion times before," she said. "But somehow on Friday, after 32 years on radio, 17 syndicated . . . I sat down at my desk and said 'I'm done trying to help people in a situation where my First Amendment rights don't exist, where special interest groups and activists can make a decision to silence you.' It's not American. It's not fair play."
She added: "Before you know it, the special interest groups, who have been dying to silence me for a long time anyway, jumped on that. And so it 'demonstrated that I was racist,' which is obviously ridiculous."
Schlessinger, who recently was nominated for a Marconi award and was named one of the top seven radio hosts in radio history, told Newsmax she received two job offers before 8 a.m. Wednesday.
The popular radio host made it clear she intends to be bigger and better than ever after her radio contract ends in December. She told Newsmax she will focus on expressing her views freely via the Internet and new media.
"I want to make it clear I'm not retiring, I'm not quitting, I'm stronger and freer to say my mind, and I have the freedom to speak my mind when I'm not in a venue where my advertisers and stations will be attacked," she said. "So I'm very liberated."
Dr. Laura added that she's looking forward to an opportunity to communicate her views without fear that activists will intimidate sponsors and affiliate stations.
"I want my First Amendment rights back. I can't have them while I'm on radio," she said.
Reactions to Schlessinger's announcement flooded the Internet Wednesday. Among them:
- Eva Rodriguez, Washington Post blogger – "Unlike Mel Gibson's obscenity-laced attacks, Dr. Laura did not use the N-word to describe a particular person or as a smear against African Americans. She used the word matter-of-factly in describing -- accurately, by the way -- how often the word is used by African American comedians. …Were her comments provocative? Absolutely. Did she deal indelicately with an exquisitely delicate subject? Yes, again. But were her comments racist? I don’t think so.
- Melanie Morgan, radio host – "Another conservative voice silenced? You bet. Liberals will be claiming her scalp, and it will be sickening to watch in the next few hours and days ahead."
- Kelli Goff, Huffington Post contributor – "The reason I'd like to thank her is because I'm hoping that her recent on air meltdown will finally help settle a philosophical debate over the n-word that has raged for years. On one side of the debate are those of us who believe that no one should say the n-word -- not a white racist and not a black comedian -- ever. On the other side are those who believe that if you're black, you essentially get an n-word lifetime free pass… But Dr. Laura reminds us why such logic is not just flawed, but dangerous."
- Dr. Dale Archer, psychologist and frequent guest on Fox's The Strategy Room – "Here’s the deal: It doesn’t matter what you think about the n-word or that comedians use it or that it’s in song lyrics or that there’s a double standard because blacks say it to other blacks. The simple fact is that this word is offensive, carries huge negative connotations and it hurts/angers blacks to hear it said by a white person. That alone should be enough for a caring human being to think, 'you know what, I’m not going to say this because it offends folks,' period, end of story."
- Tim Graham, Media Research Center director of research analysis -- "Media Matters weren't listening to her show to expose her as a racist. They object to her social conservatism, her pro-life, pro-marriage stands, and were looking for a way to silence her."
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