Over the weekend, Don Trump Jr (I guess?) tried to make “Howard Stern is racist” into a thing. It’s this pathetic clownery from MAGA racists now – they try to “own the libs” by pointing out problematic sh-t various celebrities did or said in the past. Most of the time, those celebrities had already apologized and acknowledged their own problematic behavior years ago too. That doesn’t make those acts any less racist or problematic, but it just feels like Don Jr and his coterie of dumbasses are telling on themselves – the “libs” they’re trying to own are always like “yeah, that was problematic AF, and we said so at the time.” So it is with Howard Stern, who did and said absolutely horrible and racist stuff in the ‘80s and ‘90s, like use the n-word and wear blackface. Yesterday, Stern acknowledged Don Jr’s struggle-callout and made a statement of his own. Here’s part of what Stern said:
“The s*** I did was f***ing crazy. I’ll be the first to admit. I won’t go back and watch those old shows; it’s like, who is that guy. But that was my shtick, that’s what I did and I own it. I don’t think I got embraced by Nazi groups and hate groups. They seemed to think I was against them too. Everybody had a bone to pick with me.”
“It was something in me, a drive you wouldn’t believe. As a young man, I wanted to succeed on the radio and I wanted to go f***ing crazy. Emotionally it was costing me a lot. The FCC was after me, the right wing was after me, I had the Ku Klux Klan after me, threatening my life. All kinds of crazy stories. I could do 17 movies on my life, how crazy it was. I was fined millions of dollars by the federal government, for sex. Not for race, because if you talked about race, they never cared. Look, that was the show. I went into therapy and said, what is this? Do I always have to be the guy pulling my pants down? Can I find a way to do the show where I can be a lot happier? Over the years, I did change the show…I got soft. I came to realize in therapy, if I’m going to be with my kids, and have a successful marriage, I can’t be insane completely 24 hours a day. I have to figure out a better way to communicate. So I evolved and changed.
“The big headline is this, and this is my fear in all of this. I was able to change my approach, able to change my life and change how I communicated. If I had to do it all over again, would I lampoon Ted Danson, a white guy in blackface? Yeah, I was lampooning him and saying, I’m going to shine a light on this. But would I go about it the same way now? Probably not. Not probably, I wouldn’t.
“At the same point, I will say, it f***ing distresses me that Donald Trump Jr, and Donald, themselves won’t go into psychotherapy and change. Why not change the way you’re approaching things because, wearing a mask is not a bad thing. Telling people the actual size of the crowd at your inauguration is okay. Attacking me during the coronavirus and Black Lives Matter is absolutely f***ing crazy, concentrating on me. You want to concentrate on me and bully me, and expose me, with all the TV shows I’ve done? They’re all out there. There’s nothing new here. We all know. I was the craziest motherf***er on radio. There will never be another show crazier than mine….. I’m not a hater. I’m excited about being on the radio as most of those who listen on the radio know. I’m excited about gay rights, telling you not to beat up gay people. I’m excited about the changes that are coming out of Black Lives Matter. Watching [George Floyd] choked to death, as I’ve said before, it’s sickening and appalling and I think real change might be in the air. It has nothing to do with me; it’s these guys hitting the streets and saying we’ve had enough. I’m excited about real change that is coming…I’m excited about the changes I’ve made in my approach to radio. But Jesus Christ, anybody who wants…I would suggest the people who are listening now have heard my shows over the past 40 years.
“I never go back and look at that stuff. I cringe when I look at myself 30 or 40 years ago, and that was 27 years ago, I go, I can’t stand it. Am I a bad guy? I don’t think so. Donald Trump didn’t think so, he was on my show 27 times. Donnie Junior did the show. On TV he said, I’m really disappointed in Howard, he’s changed, that I’ve gone Hollywood. Which is it? Do you want me to get in blackface and make fun of Ted Danson? I have changed. They leak TV shows that have been on TV to the press. I remember how badly Donald Jr wanted to take a picture with me.
“Dude, if you’re the president of the United States and you want to worry about me, go ahead. I don’t think I have much influence honestly. And breaking news: Howard Stern was absolutely insane and out of his mind. I would take on anything and say anything and do anything. All the old shows prove it.”
I like a lot of what Stern says here, and it’s true that he went into therapy, he evolved, he tried to grow as a man and as a broadcaster. He’s never hidden who he was or what he did, and if that’s a dealbreaker for some people, so be it. I think Stern would be the first to acknowledge that too, that he’s gotten away with a lot of crazy sh-t in his life because of his privilege. And I love that Stern keeps picking at the Trumps too – they used to love his show, they used to love being on his show. Anyway, just another self-own from Don Jr.
Photos courtesy of Getty.