One of the first subjects Laura Schlessinger will tackle in depth on her new Sirius XM Radio talk show in the new year is the one that nearly derailed her.
In confirming the exclusive arrangement to bring her talk show to satellite radio beginning Jan, 3, Schlessinger said Monday she intends to introduce roundtable discussions. Within the first three weeks one topic will be race relations and free speech.
"Racism, bigotry and hate," Schlessinger told the Hollywood Reporter, "what they really are, instead of the politically-inspired efforts to eliminate dissenting opinions or state facts."
The "politically correct version is what happened to me," she said, referencing the controversy that erupted during the summer when she used the "n-word" several times during her show "The Dr, Laura Program" to illustrate her point that the term "racist" is overused.
That incident led liberal activists to call for her dismissal and to encourage advertisers to yank their support. Schlessinger responded in August by announcing she'd end her syndicated show on regular terrestrial radio at year's end.
When she begins on Sirius XM, expect her to come out swinging against those she perceives as being a threat to the First Amendment protecting free speech, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, Democratic U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Media Matters, the organization that spearheaded the attacks against her after her use of the "n-word."
Schlessinger's show on Sirius XM will run live three hours daily with repeats nights and weekends. While there will be about 40 percent less time dedicated to commercials, she still has advertisers, though she would not identify them on Monday.
"They're the ones who called me to stay aboard. They've taken an internal pledge to stand up for free speech," she said. "I'm very proud of them and I won't name them. Media Matters will just have to get a subscription and wait to hear them on the air."
It appears such a plan is already in the works.
"We'll monitor her and make a judgment when the show starts," Media Matters executive vp Ari Rabin-Havt said. "If there's any incident of hate speech or conservative misinformation we'll point it out and take action."
But Schlessinger didn't seem fazed.
"Sirius XM is the last bastion of true free speech, because they have that commitment. They will not be touched by someone with a petition," she said.
Schlessinger says that Media Matters, along with activists like Sharpton and lawmakers like Rockefeller -- who said recently the Federal Communications Commission should consider shutting down Fox News and MSNBC -- do a disservice to the country, and she has no intention of letting them, or anyone else, shut her up.
"My creative juices are rekindled," she said. "After having to spend all this time on terrestrial radio with affiliates and advertisers being attacked, you get very distracted. But I just want to forge ahead, even with Al Sharpton asking the FCC to shut down any speech that offends him."
"This is all coming from the Democratic side," she said, noting Rockefeller's political affiliation. "It's very scary. The term 'progressive' always meant to me to progress, not to censor. That Sharpton and Rockefeller want to censor free speech is irrational.
"We have always revered free speech in this country, but even President Obama is saying that speech on cable news is getting in the way of the government doing business. That's backward. The more discourse you have, the more informed the public is."
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