Aug. 17, 2010 -- Dr. Laura Schlessinger announced tonight she is ending her radio show, a week after she broadcast a five-minute-long rant in which she used the N-word 11 times.
Schlessinger said on "Larry King Live" tonight that she has decided "not to do radio anymore" so she can say the things she wants to say.
"The reason is, I want to regain my First Amendment rights," she said. "I want to be able to say what's on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is the time to silence a voice of dissent and attack affiliates, attack sponsors. I'm sort of done with that."
She told King she will not renew her contract, which expires at the end of the year. She said she told her bosses 10 minutes before she went on the air.
She was trying to make a philosophical point, she said, but added, "I didn't help her [the caller] by making that point."
Schlessinger ignited a firestorm of criticism after Media Matters posted audio from an Aug. 10 conversation she had with a black female caller. The caller was complaining about her white husband's friends and their use of the N-word. In response, Schlessinger said:
"Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO and listen to a black comic, and all you hear is n****r, n****r, n****r. I don't get it. 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."
When the caller said she was appalled by Schlessinger's use of the N-word, the radio host demurred, "Oh, then I guess you don't watch HBO or listen to any black comedians. My dear, the point I am trying to make ... [is that] we've got a black man as president and we've got more complaining about racism than ever. I think that's hilarious."
Their exchange heated up after that. When the caller said she couldn't believe Schlessinger was "on the radio spewing out" the N-word, Schlessinger said she "didn't spew out" the N-word and repeated, "n****r, n****r, n****r is what you hear on HBO."
She then criticized the caller, saying, "Don't take things out of context. Don't NAACP me."
Their conversation ended there. Schlessinger offered an epilogue to her audience: "If you're that hypersensitive about color and don't have a sense of humor, don't marry outside of your race."
The Internet dropped its collective jaw as Schlessinger's rant went viral. The story spread through tweets and retweets, blog comments and Facebook status updates. The following day, she offered an apology on the air and on her website.
"I talk every day about doing the right thing. And yesterday, I did the wrong thing," she said. "I didn't intend to hurt people, but I did. And that makes it the wrong thing to have done. I was attempting to make a philosophical point, and I articulated the N-word all the way out -- more than one time. And that was wrong. I'll say it again -- that was wrong."
It's not the first time Schlessinger has offended masses of people: In 2000, she issued multiple mea culpas after referring to homosexuality as a "biological error" and criticizing gays for "deviant" behavior.
Schlessinger's reach is sizeable: According to her Web site, "The Dr. Laura Program," now in its 16th year of syndication, boasts 8.25 million weekly listeners in more than 40 countries on more than 250 radio stations.