From the August 17 edition of CNN's Larry King Live:
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LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight, Dr. Laura exclusive. She shocked the country with her repeated use of the N- word on her radio show last week.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LAURA SCHLESSINGER, RADIO HOST: Listen to a black comic and all you hear is (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KING: Now, for the first time since then, she'll tell the world why she did it, what she was thinking. She's got a big announcement, too. It's seconds away.
And then, Kathy Griffin. Big supporters of same-sex marriage. What does she think of the fight over Proposition 8? Anything funny about that?
Find out next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Good evening.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger is the syndicated talk radio host, if I had to tell you that, you're on another planet. She is a "New York Times" best-selling author, and no stranger to controversy. Last week, she stirred up a storm when she used the N-word 11 times on her radio show. She was speaking with a black female caller who said she was becoming resentful of her white husband being what she called racist comments by his family and friends.
Here's a brief excerpt from that conversation and we'll get right into it with Laura. Watch.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CALLER: How about the N-word though? The N-word has been thrown around --
SCHLESSINGER: Black guys use it all of the time. Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic and all you here is (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
CALLER: That isn't --
SCHLESSINGER: I don't get it. If anybody -- if anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing; but when black people say it, it's affectionate. It's very confusing.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KING: Dr. Laura, always good seeing you.
SCHLESSINGER: Thank you.
KING: Before we get to the announcement, the one thing that you said was interesting. You said that on HBO, black comics use the N- word.
SCHLESSINGER: Rap music.
KING: But, Jewish comics can kid Jews, Hispanic comics, Josh Lopez, kids Hispanics all the time. Gay comics kid the gay situation. It's OK, isn't it? But not OK when the non-N-person uses it.
SCHLESSINGER: Well, I was trying to make a point to help her about what I felt, because that -- about her hypersensitivity. And in general, in America, our hypersensitivity about race instead of us feeling more like (INAUDIBLE), and I made the poorly. And so, I upset some people. I offended some people. I hurt some people.
And within 15 minutes, which is what I had to finish the hour, I took myself off my show for the rest of the day because I was so upset because I realized I had blown it. I didn't help her by, you know, making that point.
And, you know, about 8:00 that night, I had sent an apology that I was going to do in the morning on my show to LARadio.com. So, it wasn't until 48 hours later that there was a media brouhaha about it and I had already -- I had already policed myself and apologized and said I was sorry.
KING: Do you -- do you realize that it's OK if blacks want to kid blacks or make fun of themselves, but it's not OK for this lady to have a white person use the word?
SCHLESSINGER: I'm sorry if, you know -- I always tell people on my show to do the right thing. I thought I was trying to be helpful. I was trying to make a philosophical point.
But I was wrong. I apologized.
And there are people who won't accept my apology. And they have their own reasons for that. I feel bad for that. But, my listeners heard my being contrite, being remorseful, being sincerely apologetic because it's not my nature to go out of my way to hurt people. And, you know, get on with things.
KING: So, you're still regretful?
SCHLESSINGER: Well, of course. Any time you do something wrong, you should be regretful.
KING: So, what are you here to tell us tonight?
SCHLESSINGER: Well, I'm here to say that my contract is up for my radio show at the end of the year and I have made the decision not to do radio anymore. The reason is: I want to regain my First Amendment rights. I want to be able to say what's on my mind, and in my heart, what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is a time to silence a voice of dissent, and attack affiliates and attack sponsors.
I'm sort of done with that. I'm not retiring. I'm not quitting. I feel energized actually, stronger and freer to say the things that I believe need to be said for people in this country.
KING: So, you're giving up -- you are giving up the one area of your fame?
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, my dear. I write books. I have blogs. I have my Web site.
KING: But people think Dr. Laura, they think her radio talk show.
SCHLESSINGER: This is the area -- this is the era of the Internet.
KING: So, you are going to do Internet stuff?
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, yes, I am now.
KING: Why is your freedom of speech denied on radio?
KING: Because people can criticize what you say.
SCHLESSINGER: You know, when I started in radio, if you said something somebody didn't agree with and they didn't like, they argued with you. Now, they try to silence you. They try to wipe out your ability to earn a living and to have your job. They go after affiliates. They send threats to sponsors.
KING: That's their right, too.
SCHLESSINGER: Yes, but I don't hatch the right to say what I need to say. My First Amendment rights have been usurped by angry, hateful groups who don't want to debate. They want to eliminate.
So, that's why I decided it was time to move on to other venues where I could say my piece and not have to live in fear anymore that sponsors and their families are going to be upset, radio stations are going to be upset, my peeps, as I call them, are going to be upset. KING: Did you tell your syndicate today? The people who syndicate you?
SCHLESSINGER: Ten minutes before I came on.
KING: This show?
KING: You just told them?
KING: What did they say?
SCHLESSINGER: That there was absolutely no need to do this.
KING: Who syndicates you? What radio?
SCHLESSINGER: TRN, and (ph) Masters, and I said, this isn't a matter of need.
KING: Are you going to have a new contract?
SCHLESSINGER: This is -- yes. Yes, we've added five stations this week and we added sponsors. This is not an issue of I'm losing anything. You and I were -- anointed as, in the top seven of the most important radio hosts in America. I just got nominated for a Marconi, had great ratings.
This is not an issue of hiding, running, collapsing or quitting.
KING: So, if you've added sponsors, although we get, this group that was after you, "Media Matters" --
SCHLESSINGER: Well, that's their job in life.
KING: They said Motel 6 stopped advertising.
SCHLESSINGER: This proves my point.
KING: Netflix, OnStar, they're going to distance themselves, Advanced Auto Parts. But if you've added new sponsors --
SCHLESSINGER: And I've also added sponsors.
KING: So, where have you lost freedom of speech? You can say whatever you like and they can criticize and they can try to take you --
SCHLESSINGER: Larry, you're missing the point.
KING: I am?
SCHLESSINGER: Living with a constant fear of affiliates and sponsors being attacked is very distracting. It's -- it's -- the list that you just made. I didn't even know about that. I knew about Motel 6. I didn't know about the rest of that.
But I expected it to happen because these companies are in the business are in business. They're supporting their own families. They're supporting other families. They don't want to be in the middle of controversy. They want to be doing their business.
So, it's not a matter necessarily of them agreeing with the special interest group. It's a matter of them wanting to skirt the problems. I don't need --
KING: Who is the special interest group?
SCHLESSINGER: Well, like "Media Matters" and some of the other groups that have lined up to decide that I should be silenced because they disagree with my points of view. I never called anybody a bad word. I was trying to bring -- and obviously, it has become a national discussion now -- I was trying to make a philosophical point and I made it wrong.
But I wasn't dissing anybody. I was trying to make a point. And for that to say I should be silenced is the reason that I'm saying to you, I obviously am losing First Amendment rights.
KING: You agree, though, that's a horrible word?
SCHLESSINGER: Yes, and I policed my self. You know, I don't know of too many people who have apologized before they were told you better apologize. I apologized because I knew what I had done was wrong.
I didn't wait to be threatened. I took responsibility for what I did. And to imagine that there are people who refuse to accept an apology because they have an agenda and would like me silenced is -- I'm done with that. I'm just done with that.
I want my voice out there. I feel freer and stronger than ever to be doing that in all the different venues I have. I am pretty excited.
January, I'm coming out with a book called "Shark Attacks: Surviving Shark Attacks on Land." It's about betrayal and revenge. I think the whole thing is interesting.
But I got so many things upcoming. I'm not going to be silenced in this way.
KING: How many years have you done that show?
SCHLESSINGER: I've been syndicated for 17 -- 16 of those, the top rated female. And I have never been out at the top five. Right now, I'm number three in most listened to talk show hosts in America. And I am -- just ready to take on the next level.
KING: Your last show is New Year's Eve?
SCHLESSINGER: December 31st. But I think I'm on vacation.
KING: When will your last show?
SCHLESSINGER: Christmas. I think just before Christmas, I guess.
KING: You'll come back?
SCHLESSINGER: Of course.
KING: Thanks, Laura. Dr. Schlessinger is chucking it. Good way to put it.