The fall, and fall, of Howard Stern
Once upon a time, radio jockeys sounded a certain way.
They had deep baritone voice, and their delivery was replete with standard intonations.
During the news, they feigned seriousness, at times even sounding grave.
The radio jockeys were different creatures altogether, sounding perpetually as if they were inebriated with caffeine.
The pretense was blatant.
Among the radio broadcasters who threw a brick into that wall of artifice was Howard Stern.
For three hours on weekdays, the self-proclaimed "King of All Media," spoke about everything, including taboo subjects that were never heard on the radio before.
Stern talked about his bathroom habits; his method of gratification, including self-gratification; his wife's miscarriage, and his marital problems.
He interviewed everyone from uptight politicians to porn stars.
There was a reality show aspect to his act as well.
Stern frequently excoriated his hapless producer Gary "BabaBooey" Delabate on the air. Stern also discussed office politics. He often put his staff members on air, where they aired their grievances, and even engaged in verbal spats.
Some of the humor was considered off-color for its time, perhaps scandalous in today's woke climate.
Yes, Stern was exploitative of everyone, including himself, who was part of the show, but he was honest.
It was always fun and games.
Stern was live during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and continued to broadcast. This live reporting was one of the first for those listening across the country, with callers sharing their harrowing experiences.
Between 1990 and 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined owners of radio station licensees that carried The Howard Stern Show a total of $2.5 million for content it considered to be indecent.
His risqué content meant that despite his show's popularity, he was never considered worthy of prestigious awards or glowing reviews and was scorned by the elites.
Stern didn't appear to care about it. He frequently relished mocking the phoniness, the vacuity, and the dual standards of the elites in Hollywood and beyond.
Stern was also seen as a rebel against the establishment.
The Howard Stern Show moved to satellite radio.
He was unencumbered by FCC regulations, which meant there were no boundaries in terms of content.
Stern did some very insightful interviews with some of the finest minds in comedy, film, and music, such as Larry David, Sting, and Francis Ford Coppola.
But the standards were devolving.
Stern was beginning to make inroads with the elites. He developed personal friendships with many Hollywood stars and even politicians, even the vacuous variety he used to mock previously on his show.
His personal friendships shouldn't concern his listeners, but they began to affect the show.
Stern, who was famous for calling out hypocrisy, now began to restrain himself.
A perfect example was the Hilaria Baldwin controversy. Hilaria claimed to be Spanish, even speaking with an acquired accent — when, in reality, she's from Boston. Stern from the '80s would have exploded on the air, but now he was mum owing to his close personal friendship with Alec Baldwin.
Stern stooped further, becoming a judge on a lame talent show and fawning over low-grade dating shows such as The Bachelor.
The capitulation was embarrassing, and so was the lack of self-awareness.
Stern probably realizes that his audience has deserted him. Years ago, Stern summoned a crisis meeting where he discussed plans to revive his show. All through the presentation, he blamed everyone but himself for its failure.
The presentation was leaked by a disgruntled employee.
Stern never acknowledged the existence of this tape on his show.
Stern chose to remain mostly neutral during the 2016 presidential race. He spoke favorably of Hillary Clinton but never really joined the irrational confederacy of Trump-hating "comics."
Stern sank deeper a few years later.
In 2019, Stern did a fawning interview with Hillary Clinton.
Hillary blamed everyone from Bernie Sanders to Russian interference for her defeat in 2016 and was never challenged. Stern even credited President Obama for the Trump economy and baselessly attacked President Trump.
Hillary's failures and corruption never received even a perfunctory question.
Stern is known to assiduously prepare for interviews. His hesitation to ask uncomfortable questions was not for the lack of knowledge, but instead because he wanted to appease the establishment and make his membership permanent by doing P.R. for Hillary.
The interview shocked many, who expected honesty from Stern.
But Stern didn't care. He had made his money, and now he wanted acceptance from the elite, which, as it turns out, he always craved.
So what's become of the Stern show now?
There are the reality show elements, the bathroom humor, and the rants, but it is stale and insincere.
The interviews are still good, but Stern hesitates to probe into zones that make the interviewee uncomfortable.
He became a fervent proponent of the COVID-19 vaccine, claiming that unvaccinated people should not be given access to hospitals.
Stern joined the gang of the vicious Trump-haters like members of the mainstream media and entertainment.
Speaking about the recent Mar-a-Lago raid by the FBI, Stern said the following: "I think he [Trump] was trying to prove to the Russians, like, 'I'm really in control here. I've got top-secret papers.' Meanwhile, he's showing to them to Russians.
"Just like, to prove that he was president in a way he doesn't even believe it. That's the safest explanation."
Stern hypothesized that Trump could sell the nuclear secrets of our Western allies to the likes of Russia and Saudi Arabia.
"This is a guy who badly wants to do business with Russia and Saudi Arabia."
"Imagine if he says to them, 'Look, man, give me a couple billion dollars, and I'll show ya where France keeps their nuclear weapons, and you guys can see all this s--- if you do business with me."
Stern was once friendly with Trump and even spoke about how Trump treated Stern and his young wife very well during a trip to Mar-a-Lago.
But the same Stern is accusing Trump of treason, the punishment for which is death.
Stern then targeted Trump-supporters, calling them "morons" last week.
"I mean, my God in heaven, I feel like I'm in a nation of nincompoops. I'm hoping there are still some more brilliant, bright, vibrant people who love this country."
These "morons," Stern continued, should go and live under "that f--- nut [Vladimir] Putin" for a year to get a better appreciation of our democratic system, referring to Russia's president.
Some users on social media reminded the virtue-signaling Stern about his past as a "shock jock":
I'm old enough to remember when Howard Stern frequently played a game with strippers on his radio show called "Anal Ring Toss," but sure I'll take him seriously when he calls half the country "morons."— Joseph Massey (@jmasseypoet) September 7, 2022
I’m old enough to remember when Howard stern use to bribe women with reconstructive surgery with extremely humiliating tasks while degrading them the entire time as the staff laughed at them. Such a great guy.— RomeCharlieMike (@RomeCharlieMik1) September 7, 2022
I remember when his wife had a miscarriage and he put it in a jar, brought it to his show, humiliating his wife & making jokes about it!— Ruthann (@rjkretser) September 14, 2022
Stern proves the theory that some who claim to be rebels are merely bitter and jealous of being rejected by the establishment. They disguise their resentment as rage against the status quo and the establishment.
When these "rebels" are allowed into the metaphorical building, like recent converts of a cult, they become the most fanatical proponents of the groupthink of the establishment, with a fanatical intensity that exceeds the zeal of legacy members.
Stern's advocacy of the groupthink doesn't emanate from honesty. He, and those like him, are grateful for the seat at the table and are willing degrade themselves to retain the seat.
Stern is now the force he once claimed to despise — a hypocrite and a minion of the establishment.
Image: Twitter screen shot.