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After Bannon Beef, Melissa Etheridge Will Stay at SiriusXM: ‘Speaking Is Stronger’ (EXCLUSIVE)

"I tweeted a knee-jerk reaction," says the singer and songwriter.

Melissa Etheridge on Quitting SiriusXM Over
REX/Shutterstock

Generally pretty mild-mannered, Melissa Etheridge was incensed when she learned satellite radio giant SiriusXM had supported having Steve Bannon host the service’s “Breitbart Daily News” program, which airs on the SiriusXM Patriot channel. The singer has her own music talk show, “Melissa’s Basement,” on the Volume channel.

On Dec. 8, the singer and songwriter tweeted: “After news that @SIRIUSXM has given #SteveBannon a show, I can no longer in good conscience be part of my show.”

Sirius defended Bannon’s participation, stating: “Free speech is vitally important. We ardently believe that by allowing a virtually unlimited platform of viewpoints, we are doing our best to uphold that core value.”

And after speaking with executives at SiriusXM, Etheridge has changed course, telling Variety that an agreement has been reached that offers a new political platform for progressive ideas on the satellite radio network. Etheridge will “be a voice” on that platform,” she says. “[Sirius] stepped up. Free speech is hard. I tweeted a knee-jerk reaction and now believe that staying and speaking the progressive message, which is so desperately needed these days, is a much stronger act for me than to take my ball and go home.”

A new show may find a home on the SiriusXM Progress channel, but Etheridge adds that “the goal is to have a whole new channel.”

Other entertainers have also publicly opposed Sirius’ decision to give the right-wing ideologue who helped President Trump get elected a platform for his ultra-conservative views. Seth Rogen tweeted that he decided against doing a “press tour on @SIRIUSXM… because I can’t bring myself to appear on the same service that has decided to support Steve Bannon.” Rogen has been promoting “The Disaster Artist,” in which he has a supporting role. On Dec. 9, John Leguizamo canceled his Sirius “Town Hall” show, tweeting “because they hired Bannon! No hate mongers!”

“We welcome Melissa, a regular host on our Volume channel, to bring her progressive voice to our national audience,” says SiriusXM spokesman Patrick Reilly. “We look forward to working with her, and others, to provide the diversity of voices in American life today on our SiriusXM Progress channel and other future channels and programming.”